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ARP, Senate initiatives discussed at poorly attended meeting

At the sparsely attended ASSU Undergraduate Senate meeting last night, senators announced the creation of new projects for winter quarter and discussed the progress of their Alternative Review Process (ARP) recommendations.

Senator Lauren Miller ’15 said that the Alternative Review Process (ARP) subcommittee met with the Board of Judicial Affairs (BJA) regarding the Senate’s proposed changes to the ARP. According to Miller, the BJA had no major issues with the Senate’s proposal.

“They were really receptive and really excited to work with us,” Miller said. “Most of the things we talked about weren’t really changes but clarifications of what we meant.”

The only significant change, according to Miller, was the creation of guidelines regulating what questions would be permitted in the cross-examination process. The BJA determined that all questions would be presented unless they are deemed invalid or inappropriate.

According to Miller, the BJA will likely approve a slightly modified version of the Senate’s recommendations “without a problem” and send the ARP back to the Senate for another vote before it is sent to the Faculty Senate. Miller predicts that the Faculty Senate will approve the recommendations as well.

“They just want to know if the students are okay with it,” Miller said. “They don’t anticipate any problems with it.”

As their role in the ARP deliberations winds down, senators are launching new initiatives for winter quarter. Student Life Committee Chair Viraj Bindra ’15 said he is developing a system where students can submit a petition about any aspect of campus life that they believe should be changed. Bindra noted that this program would likely be similar to the petition system currently in place at the White House.

Senator Anna Brezhneva ’15 said she is working with a student at Yale to create a version of Yale’s Class Roulette website for Stanford. The Class Roulette system involves logging on to a website and pressing the spacebar, which randomly generates a list of ten classes. Class Roulette also provides the professor names, meeting times, class descriptions and any prerequisites for the randomly generated classes, and links to Yale’s Bluebook, which Brezhneva said was the equivalent of Explore Courses.

Brianna Pang ’13, the current ASSU elections commissioner, visited the Senate during open forum to discuss issues relating to the upcoming ASSU elections. Pang said that senators should help to ensure that more people run for Senate seats this year, as last year there was “barely anyone running,” with only 19 students competing for the 15 Senate seats.

“I see you guys as the primary ASSU ambassadors for the rest of campus,” Pang said. “You should be getting people to these info sessions and getting them interested in basically taking over your jobs next year and ensuring a good transition.”

ASSU Assistant Financial Manager Stephen Trusheim ’13 also spoke to the Senate about a bill on previous notice that he wrote with Financial Manager Neveen Mahmoud ’11. If approved, the bill would allow Mahmoud to spend $4,000 from the Undergraduate Senate’s buffer fund and $4,000 from the GSC’s buffer fund in order to make upgrades to the system that runs MyGroups2.

MyGroups2 is “the primary accounting tool for the ASSU and student groups,” according to Trusheim’s bill. He said that the problems with the current system are threefold, as the hardware is likely to fail because of its age, the software is no longer supported by the original vendors and is vulnerable to hackers and the servers are not secure from theft, malicious intent or natural disasters.

“We want to solve all three of those issues at once by moving the computers to the University’s secure data center, throwing out the old computers and buying new ones and buying more modern versions of all the software with long term support contracts on them all,” Trusheim said.

Miller put a series of amendments to the ASSU bylaws on previous notice to be debated next week, including several amendments that clarify the Senate’s attendance policy, which was an issue of discussion last quarter. While the attendance policy currently states that senators may not miss three meetings per quarter, the new policy will state that only one of these three absences may be unexcused, and that if a senator has more than one unexcused absence, a bill will be drafted for his or her expulsion.

The proposed amendments define an unexcused absence as “an instance in which the senator in question did not notify either the Chair, Deputy Chair, or Chair of Administration & Rules of their absence 24 hours in advance,” though it states that special exceptions can be made at the Chair’s discretion.

At last night’s meeting, only nine of the 14 senators were present, which Miller said was a result of the flu. All of the absences were excused, according to Miller.

Though Appropriations Chair Nancy Pham ’14 was absent, Senate Chair Branden Crouch ’14 told senators that Pham had miscounted the number of applications for the first round of “Redefining Student Life: The 80K Challenge,” the Senate’s new initiative to spend some of the money in its large buffer fund. According to Crouch, 20 general fees groups applied to receive additional funds for winter quarter events, a correction of Pham’s statement at the Jan. 13 meeting of the Appropriations Committee that only 12 groups applied.