As soon as we were elected last year, we assembled a team to focus on one important question: How can we make ASSU funding better? We’ve met with hundreds of students and found a major, overriding truth: ASSU funding doesn’t work.
Why? ASSU funding is unclear. It’s hard to access. Except for about 50 big groups with practically unlimited budgets, it doesn’t give any group more than $7,000 — hardly enough for a growing group. The fee is too high; in fact, it’s the highest student fee at any university, and last spring 14 percent of students chose not to pay it, taking money away from the groups that need it most. Worst of all, we found incredible waste in the system — millions of dollars sit in “reserve” accounts for years. In fact, only about 75 percent of the money you pay is ever spent for anyone’s benefit.
We’ve proposed SAFE Reform as a solution to all of these issues. Here are the raw facts: SAFE Reform cuts the student fee by 20 percent while increasing the amount of money available to student groups by more than 10 percent. It makes funding more flexible for every group, with a common “reserve.” It keeps the exact same ASSU control over funding — the Senate is still in charge of most allocations, and the student body still votes on all major allocations.
Some people don’t understand what SAFE Reform does and are afraid of changing a system — even when the change we propose is the result of a year of research and collaboration with hundreds of student leaders. A previous editorial lays out why SAFE Reform isn’t just a step forward, it’s a leap forward. You can visit the SAFE website (assu.stanford.edu/safe-reform) for more information, including direct responses to recent criticisms. In short, SAFE Reform criticisms are filled with misinformation.
No one wants to see an ASSU that wastes 25 percent of the money it charges students. No one wants to see an astronomical student fee, especially when we can support more student groups with a smaller burden on students. Unfortunately, all of that is true today, and it won’t get better. SAFE Reform fixes today’s problems and lets the ASSU keep improving the funding system to better serve everyone.
Tomorrow, vote “yes” on SAFE Reform. It’s better for students, and better for Stanford’s 850 student groups. Together, we can fix a broken ASSU.
Dan Ashton ‘14 and Billy Gallagher ‘14