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Senate debates spending bills

Last night, the Senate passed a handful of funding bills, approved its budget for next year and passed several action items, notably creating ASSU Parliamentarian and Publications Board consultant positions and appointing Emma Ogiemwanye ‘12 as ASSU executive chief of staff.

The senators began the meeting by reviewing funding bills from student organizations. Three examined in-depth were requests from fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon for funding to fix a community house in East Palo Alto, from Project Motivation for reserve funds for a keynote speaker and from the Stanford African Students Association for the majority of its spring funding to go toward a speaker.

All three funding bills passed unanimously.

The ASSU budget also passed unanimously after considerable debate. The rise in the allocation for Senate associates from $250 to $1,000 generated contention, as senators mostly agreed that the position was important, but many thought it was not taken seriously enough to receive more funding. After noting that the ASSU endowment had increased enough to allow for the extra allocation, the budget bill passed.

Several times throughout the meeting, senators requested additional outlets for information about past Senate actions. ASSU President Michael Cruz ‘12 pointed to the online ASSU Senate archives, noting that the hardcopy Senate archive files were thrown away when the ASSU rented space to Courserank.

A later bill creating the office of ASSU Parliamentarian was amended to include the responsibility of highlighting year-to-year changes in bills, especially budgets, so that senators could better understand the decisions they were making.

Publications Board Director Alice Nam ’11 presented a bill creating two consultant positions, meant to assist student publications in developing and learning their publications’ print layout and web design strategies. The bill passed, and applications will open soon for the two paid positions.

Print design and web design “were two things that were specific to publications that weren’t really available anywhere else,” Nam said.

“We wanted to make sure that especially new groups that have the motivation have the resources to learn print design and web design,” she added.

Another major bill was the appointment off Ogiemwanye as chief of staff to Cruz and Vice President Stewart Macgregor-Dennis ’13. Both Executives testified to Ogiemwanye’s commitment to the position, saying they planned to have daily meetings or calls with her.

Other senators echoed the belief in Ogiemwanye’s commitment.

“I came by the executive office after last night’s committee meeting and lo and behold they were skyping Emma,” said Senator Daniel DeLong ’13.

The Senate met some disagreement over the bill to form the Ad Hoc Committee on the Governing Documents of the Association, meant to update and improve ASSU documents. In the bill’s list of members, the Senate had trouble deciding whether to allow the committee to nominate additional, full-voting members, or to leave that power to the Senate. The Senate compromised by allowing the committee to appoint ex officio members, while keeping the appointment of voting power in the Senate.

The open forum brought a presentation from Keshav Rao ‘12 about a new social network called Locra. Rao and two others are building the site, locra.org, as a central place to find charitable opportunities and track service participation. Rao said the Haas Center for Public Service had expressed much early interest in the site as well.

The Senate was mostly impressed with the website, particularly in the resource it presents to them as a Senate. Senator Alon Elhanan ’14 noted that the Senate could follow up with the site to ensure that service groups receiving ASSU funding were completing their projects.

The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to meet with Rao and other Locra leaders at a later date.

The final bill approved at the meeting appointed DeLong as internal development chair for the Senate, who will be in charge of social events for senators.

The bill was presented as a notice for next meeting, but Elhanan motioned to suspend the rules in the interest of allocating any more Senate time away from an internal social affair.

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