After a charged three hour debate lasting past midnight Tuesday, the ASSU Undergraduate Senate rejected a bill expressing concern for the welfare of Fadi Quran ‘10, a Stanford alumnus arrested last week and since released in the West Bank, and urging the University to issue a statement on his behalf. Senators cited factual uncertainty, alleged anti-Israeli undercurrents and inadequate grounding for the resolution’s proposed measures as rationales for rejection. Among other issues addressed, the Senate also unanimously approved a bill supporting the continued independence of Chi Theta Chi (XOX).
Senator Daniel DeLong ‘13 commented on the often acrimonious and frequently disrupted nature of the meeting, saying to The Daily, “this is the most ridiculous meeting we’ve ever had, in terms of order.”
Resolution in support Fadi Quran
The “Resolution to Support the Safety and Security of Fadi Quran”, authored by Senators Samar Alqatari ‘14 and Janani Ramachandran ‘14 and co-sponsored by Senate Chair Rafael Vazquez ‘12, was proposed in response to the detention and trial of Quran, a Palestinian-American Stanford alumnus arrested by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank Friday while participating in a non-violent protest. Quran was released on bail from an Israeli prison yesterday.
“This is an issue that comes to the heart of Stanford because it concerns an alumnus,” Ramachandran said. “I want to highlight that Quran is a non-violent protestor, something that’s commendable.”
Ramachandran cited the collective concern for Quran’s welfare expressed by faculty and the University administration, as well as by both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups on campus. Representatives from both groups attended the public Senate meeting.
Senator Alon Elhanan ‘14 applauded the bill’s sentiment, and noted the efforts of the resolution’s authors in reaching out to disparate and often conflicting groups on campus.
Elhanan asserted, however, that he had encountered sustained student concerns about the language utilized in the original copy of the bill, seen as implicitly equating Israel with human rights violations, and noted that Quran’s proximity to a violent protest may partially explain the reaction of Israeli security forces. He also noted that, while the resolution called for a statement on the issue by Provost and Acting President John Etchemendy ‘82, Etchemendy had previously expressed his reluctance to make such a declaration.
“There needs to be very narrow, specific language and I don’t think this abides by that,” Elhanan said.
Multiple Senators, including Elhanan and Ben Laufer ‘12, expressed concern that the resolution had insufficient grounds within the ASSU constitution to allow Senate action on the issue, which is reserved for issues affecting Stanford students.
“A matter shall be construed as directly affecting Stanford students only if there is at least one Stanford student who is affected by the matter in a substantially different manner than would be the case if he or she were not a university student,” states Article I, Section 5.B of the ASSU constitution as cited by the resolution.
Laufer argued that Quran’s graduation, and the lack of evidence that his treatment by Israeli security forces was in any way prejudiced by his affiliation with Stanford, meant his plight was no longer incorporated under the ASSU constitution.
Responding to Laufer’s concerns, Ramachandran cited the precedent created by the Senate’s prior willingness to address issues — such as police violence against University of California students — beyond the immediate Stanford community. She argued that Quran’s ongoing links to the Stanford community — emanating from his time as president of Students Confronting Apartheid by Israel (SCAI), now Stanford Students for Palestinian Equal Rights (SPER), from 2007 to 2009 — made his ordeal relevant to the University community, a position echoed by ASSU President Michael Cruz ‘12.
“It’s an issue that has come to campus, and it [has] spurred a lot of people to think about this conflict,” Alqatari said.
Input from members of pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups accentuated and polarized the debate. Daniel Bardenstein ‘13, co-president of the Stanford Israel Alliance, expressed concern that the ASSU was moving beyond the interests of a student body that, he asserted, had yet to engage with the issue. He argued that, following Quran’s release, the legislation had no purpose.
Bardenstein also alleged that the bill, by assuming Quran’s mistreatment while in Israeli custody, made an implicit judgment on Israel. Vazquez supported this point, arguing that the resolution in its current form failed to delineate sufficiently between Quran and the broader conflict.
After substantial revisions removing clauses referring to the Israeli government and moderating the tone of the statement requested of Etchemendy, in addition to repeated recesses to encourage further collaboration and compromise, the Senate remained sharply divided. Senators agreed, however, on the need to address the issue with the information available in a timely fashion.
A roll-call vote on the bill, requiring six votes for approval, came up one vote short, with four Senators opposing the measure and four abstaining. Despite the setback, the Senate approved a motion to reconsider the motion 8-4.
“I support the literal wording of much of this bill,” DeLong said. “I voted ‘no’ because I’m concerned about the political undercurrents and tensions.”
Despite further efforts at reconciling opposing viewpoints, and the increasing frustration of its Chair, the Senate continued to struggle in finding consensus. Arguing against further compromise, and opposing a proposed amended version of the resolution that would remove the request for a University statement, the bill’s authors emphasized the need for an emphatic and unifying resolution.
“Don’t water it down into nothing,” a visibly upset Ramachandran argued. “We just want compromise on something that affects a fellow student.”
Facing mutual recriminations about the lack of progress through three hours of debate, the Senate rejected a motion to adjourn and returned to an adapted version of the original resolution for another roll-call vote. Needing eight votes for successful passage, the measure was only able to garner seven. Four senators voted against the bill and two abstained.
Elhanan put an optimistic spin on the evening.
“This was extremely uncharacteristic,” he told The Daily. “But it shows how seriously we take this.”
Chi Theta Chi
By contrast, the passage of a“Resolution to Support the Independence of Chi Theta Chi” posed few problems and passed unanimously on previous notice. The bill, authored by DeLong , Laufer, Gerad Hanono ‘12, XOX house manager, and Jonathan Anderson ‘12, former XOX resident assistant, in response to the recent termination of XOX’s lease, called for ASSU promotion of XOX’s continued independence and for a dialogue between the XOX Alumni Association and the University “to find an amicable and workable solution.”
“The ASSU represents the entire student body,” Hanono said before the meeting. “We feel they have an important role to play in our community engagement in trying to preserve our independence.”
In front of 30 XOX residents, Anderson noted that — while Stanford recently delayed the transition to University management until Aug. 31 — Chi Theta Chi has been actively seeking to rectify administration concerns and create a long-term proposal for the house’s management. While hesitating to draw conclusions, DeLong identified the postponement as potentially indicating a promising outcome for XOX.
While he expressed his support for XOX’s continued independence, Elhanan noted lessons the co-op could learn.
“I think we can agree this has served as a wake-up call to you, to ensure that communication with the administration is working,” he said.
Prior to discussing Fadi Quran, the Senate turned its attention to the issue of special fees. While the Senate approved a correction to an erroneous bylaw reference in a Feb. 21 resolution granting The Daily an exemption from banking its non-special fee funds with Student Service Enterprises (SSE), Senators expressed concern about eight organizations, including The Daily, which missed the Feb. 21 deadline for filing special fee disclosure packets.
Elhanan argued that the affected Voluntary Student Organizations (VSOs) should come before the Appropriations Committee to explain the delay in document submission. DeLong supported the suggestion, suggesting legislation to impose a “late fee” on delinquent VSOs reserves to deter future tardiness.
Appropriations Committee Chair Brianna Pang ‘13 argued that the delay may have emanated from confusion among the VSOs about the deadline date, or with which body to file the requests.
“It’s not that these groups weren’t prepared, it’s just that they didn’t physically submit it,” she argued.
The bill was tabled for discussion at next week’s Senate meeting.