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CAB to become a ‘branch’ of ASSU

At its last meeting of the academic year, the ASSU Undergraduate Senate endorsed the nomination of almost 100 students to University committees, established the Community Action Board (CAB) as a permanent institution of the ASSU and approved the new elections commissioner and Publications Board chairs.

Nine of the 15 senators were present at last night’s meeting.

Those present unanimously approved the ASSU operating budget for next year despite not having a bill drafted for the budget legislation, thus violating the Senate bylaws.

Almost 100 students were nominated to 40 University committees after being interviewed and selected by the interim Nominations Commission (NomCom), which was made up of ASSU President Robbie Zimbroff  ’12, Graduate Student Council (GSC) Chair David Hsu and members from last year’s NomCom who accepted an invitation to return in the absence of an established replacement for the Commission.

If they receive majority approval from the GSC, these nominated students will be presented as recommendations to the appropriate University committees by June 1.

The Senate also approved Brianna Pang ’13, a former undergraduate senator, as ASSU elections commissioner for the upcoming year.

The Senate confirmed Kathleen Chaykowski ’13, former editor in chief of The Daily, and Kian Ameli ’13 of the Stanford Chaparral as co-chairs of the Publications Board for the 2012-13 academic year.

Approval of the Budget

After receiving the most updated version of the GSC section of the ASSU budget from GSC representatives, Senate Chair Branden Crouch ’14 shared the budget he had received from Naveen Mahmoud, ASSU financial manager and CEO of Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE), with his fellow senators.

Despite not having a bill to establish the budget as a piece of legislation, the Senate unanimously approved it as the official ASSU budget for the next fiscal year.

The previous Undergraduate Senate had approved a budget for the current Association during the last meeting of its term after revising a few provisions in the GSC section of the budget. However, the GSC rejected the bill because it objected to the Senate’s revisions, according to former GSC co-chair Addy Satija.

As a result, the ASSU was left without a budget for the new term.

The Senate suspended the rules of order at Tuesday’s meeting to vote on the budget without previous notice.

The ASSU Constitution states that the Senate must pass a budget before the end of this fiscal year, which will occur during the summer. According to the constitution, if the Senate and GSC do not approve a budget by this deadline, the budget for the new fiscal year must be identical to the budget from the previous fiscal year. However, last year’s Senate passed its budget in October 2011 and did not abide by this clause.

When asked about the status of the budget after the meeting, neither ASSU Parliamentarian Kimberly Bacon ’15 nor Crouch could provide an explanation regarding the legitimacy of the vote.

“Our budget is now official,” Senator Shahab Fadavi ’15 said after the meeting.

Institutionalizing the Community Action Board

The Senate also unanimously approved a bill institutionalizing the Community Action Board (CAB) as a “service project” of the ASSU, defined by the bylaws as a “semi-autonomous student-run agenc[y], subject to the oversight of the President of the Association and the relevant Association legislative bodies.”

“[CAB] guarantees a way for communities to really have that lobbying and advocacy power with the administrators…and facilitates dialogue between those communities,” said Aracely Mondragon ’13 of CAB’s activities this past year, initiated by the previous ASSU Executive.

Mondragon listed CAB’s response to the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) report and establishment of contacts in the administration as the board’s top accomplishments this year.

While several senators explained that the bill’s intent was to ensure CAB’s existence independent of executive discretion, they could not give consistent answers about CAB’s role in the ASSU or its funding source.

“It’s kind of like a new branch — it’s a division,” Crouch said when asked after the meeting about CAB’s role in the ASSU. “They’ll still go through the Undergraduate Senate to get everything approved, so they’ll still be accountable to the legislative branches.”

The legislation did not delineate CAB’s expected funding source. Bacon was the only senator to ask CAB representatives about funding and policies.

CAB Chair Holly Fetter ’13 said she doesn’t feel that CAB funding conflicts with general funding in the ASSU, but did not say explicitly from where the money for CAB will or should come. Last year, CAB received ASSU discretionary funding.

Because the Senate had only nine voting members present and wanted a clear two-thirds support, senators called in Senator Janhavi Vartak ’15, who had previously been absent. Bacon guessed that Vartak had been “at her dorm.”

The 10 present senators then approved the new charter of CAB unanimously, while funding policies and internal review mechanisms must still be drafted.