On Tuesday night, the 15th Undergraduate Senate expressed widespread support for a bill that would remove the current study abroad restriction for sitting senators.
The bill, which will be voted on next week, seeks to address what senators believe is a major obstacle for many upperclassmen considering running for Senate. With many students electing to study abroad their junior year, the bill would allow senators to study abroad while serving.
“I definitely think it will increase the number of upperclassmen running for Senate,” Senator Anna Breed ’16 said.
Due to a high turnover rate from year to year – no members of the 15th Senate have had previous experience and all but one were freshmen when they ran for office – the Senate has been robbed of institutional memory. The bill, as currently written, would allow up to three senators to study abroad per quarter, limiting first-year senators to study abroad only during the final quarter of their term and allowing returning senators to study abroad during any quarter.
Senator John-Lancaster Finley ’16 noted that, according to data from the Bing Overseas Study Program, on average 51 percent of each graduating class studies abroad at least once during their time at Stanford.
“There’s no question that someone with more experience would be better prepared to step into the role of being a senator than a freshman would,” Finley said. “We’ve identified the study abroad restriction as one of the main things that’s stopping upperclassmen from running.”
Many of the senators indicated support for the spirit of the bill, but several senators raised concerns about having committee chairs and other Senate leaders abroad.
The Senate also heard an update from the members of the Student Activities Fee (SAFE) Reform group Tuesday night. Olivia Moore ’16 and Justine Moore ’16 outlined several potential changes to their reform, which focuses on the funding process for student groups. They noted that they hoped for a Senate vote on the legislation in a few weeks.
“Seeing under the hood of the funding system for the first time, you realize that we are funding so much more than our peer institutions. The funding system we have is crazy and incredibly inefficient,” Senate Chair Ben Holston ’15 said. “It is very important this passes.
The Senate also confirmed four members to the Constitutional Council, approving Geo Saba ’15, Jelani Munroe ’16, Milton Achelpohl ’13 M.A. ’14 and Sona Sulakian ’16. The Constitutional Council functions as the judicial branch of the ASSU.
“The Council grants us additional knowledge in the ASSU – additional people to go to on issues, additional people to get involved and additional people to provide student voice,” Finley said.
The Senate also passed $30,583.49 in regular funding bills.
Contact Andrew Vogeley at avogeley ‘at’ stanford.edu.