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ASSU Senate discusses class scheduling proposal

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The 15th Undergraduate Senate tackled a 20-page agenda in a meeting on Tuesday evening that was nearly two hours in length including a five-minute recess. Despite a few moments of disorder, Senate Chair Ben Holston ‘15 commanded the meeting with authority, controlling a substantive open forum on 8:30 am class times and passing three bills as well as $20,193 in funding bills.

“I think the fact that we are having long meetings is a good thing, because the reason they’re long is that we’re doing a lot,” Holston said. “We’re very busy, we’re very committed to helping the University—and on nights like tonight, that takes time.”

MADELINE SIDES/The Stanford Daily
MADELINE SIDES/The Stanford Daily

One of the central parts of Tuesday’s meeting was the discussion—initiated by Senator Ilya Mouzykantskii ‘16—on a scheduling proposal written by Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Harry Elam and University Registrar Tom Black that will be discussed at the Faculty Senate meeting this Thursday.

Elam and Black’s proposal recommends several scheduling changes, including that all classes start on the half hour from 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Mouzykantskii and ASSU President Dan Ashton ‘14 were invited to a meeting with Black, Elam and the Chair of the Faculty Senate David Palumbo-Liu last Wednesday to discuss their thoughts on the proposal.

“We are thankful to the registrar for spending the time he spent on the proposal to rationalize scheduling for students,” Mouzykantskii said. “The one part that I, as a representative of the student body, and Dan, as a representative for the Executive of ASSU, wanted to address, was moving class times up to 8:30 a.m.”

Mouzykantskii felt that in this situation, the Senate—as the elected representatives of the undergraduate student body—could represent student opinion on keeping the class start time at 9 a.m. Black indicated he was willing to consider this modification, according to Mouzykantskii.

The Senate was unable to vote on a resolution about amending the registrar’s proposal because, technically, the full text of the resolution must be presented at least one week in advance of the Senate meeting and the resolution was not presented until Sunday. The senators were largely supportive of the amendment, however, noting the inconvenience to athletes and citing widespread student opposition to the earlier start times.

Although bylaws did not permit official action on the issue, the Senate was able to take a straw poll, assessing whether the senators were in support of the spirit of the resolution in favor of moving the start of classes to 9 a.m.

Twelve of the 14 senators were in support of the spirit of the resolution, with Hisham Al-Falih ‘16 and Ryan Matsumoto ‘16 abstaining. Mouzykantskii will present these results to the Faculty Senate on Thursday during his three-minute speaking time on student opinion.

Following open forum, the Senate passed a bill appointing Hunter Kodama ‘14 as ASSU Elections Commissioner, and then discussed two proposals that were presented by Assistant Financial Manager Stephen Trusheim ‘13 M.S. ‘14 last week; the first proposal was to upgrade the ASSU offices and the second to study and improve ASSU operations. After some back and forth between Mouzykantskii and Trusheim, several friendly amendments were added, and the two bills were passed.

The Senate also began discussing bills that will be voted on in future meetings— including a winter quarter grant bill, currently titled “A Snowy Surprise: Winter Quarter Grant Program,” which creates a $50,000 grant to support general fees groups’ winter quarter events.

The Senate Innovation Bill—which will distribute $3,000 to each senator to help affect change in the Stanford community—was drafted by Mouzykantskii this past week based on Trusheim’s initial blueprint. The two aim to meet in the next week to hash out some of the bill’s details, such as ensuring that there is a strong system of checks and balances in the process.

Lastly, the Senate suspended the rules of order at the end of the meeting to reassign Brianna Brown ‘16 to the Appropriations Committee to replace Senator Abby Dow ‘16, who recently left the committee. The Senate kept the rules of order suspended to provide reimbursements for Mouzykantskii and Deputy Chair Anna Breed ‘16, respectively.

Contact Lucy Svoboda at lsvoboda ‘at’ stanford.edu