By Ellen Huet
The ASSU Undergraduate Senate is set to vote today on whether or not to dissolve the current Senate on May 11 and swear in the senators-elect, a move that usually happens in the fifth week of the quarter. The decision could be postponed another week in today’s meeting.
According to Senate Parliamentarian Alex Katz ’12, the current Senate has delayed dissolving because of a need to focus on budget discussions and Senate bylaws, which haven’t been updated in four years. Katz also said the Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member, had concerns about needing more time to handle the transition to next year’s influential committee.
“We have business that still needs work, including continuity in Appropriations and sustainability initiatives,” said Senate Chair Varun Sivaram ’11. “But a late transition will really set back the incoming Senate — they’ll be really pressed for time.”
A Senate committee was also talking as recently as last week about ethics reforms, spearheaded largely by Senator Shelley Gao ’11 (who is also a Daily columnist); a green events checklist is also still in committee talks.
Current Senator Mohammad Ali ’10 said he believes the Senate is postponing dissolving to avoid discussion of a potential divestment bill. Ali co-wrote the bill to dissolve May 11.
“Senators are saying that the new Senate’s not ready,” Ali said. “But from what I know, the Senate’s only postponing because they want to push a vote about this issue [divestment] until next year.”
Ali is also an organizer for Campaign Restore Hope (CRH), a coalition of students whose mission is to raise awareness about perceived human rights violations in Israel and Palestine and encourage divestment from four specific companies.
On Sunday, a hard-copy petition was distributed under the doors of some residences on campus from CRH, asking students to write a sentence of support for the initiative and to deliver the petition to their “dorm representative or RA.”
The petition’s goals include passing “an ASSU bill urging our University to disinvest from these companies” that violate human rights.
No such bill has been introduced in the Senate. CRH organizer Fadi Quran ’10 said the campaign intends to introduce a bill to the incoming Senate.
A group of students tied to the Stanford Israel Alliance denounced the emergence of CRH’s petition on Monday.
Senate bylaws dictate that once a bill is introduced, the Senate must wait at least one week before voting on it. Since the Senate is not required to meet during dead week or finals week, if the Senate postpones dissolution until the eighth week, the incoming Senate would not be able to pass any bills unless it chose to meet after the ninth week.
Stanford is currently in the sixth week of spring quarter.