The 15th Undergraduate Senate convened Tuesday night to discuss last minute concerns over the SAFE Reform proposal – a constitutional amendment that aims to reform the student activities funding process and that will be voted on by the student body later this week – as expressed by some students and the influential Students of Color Coalition (SOCC).
SOCC represents six student groups: the Asian American Students’ Association (AASA), the Black Student Union (BSU), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) de Stanford, the Muslim Student Awareness Network (MSAN), the Stanford American Indian Organization (SAIO) and the Stanford chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Minutes before the Senate meeting, SOCC sent an email via the Diaspora mailing list encouraging people to vote against the SAFE Reform proposal, citing concerns including the planned freezing of reserves and the subordination of funding to a partially unelected Funding Board.
These concerns were addressed by members of the Senate and the bill’s co-authors, Olivia Moore ’16 and Justine Moore ’16, during the meeting.
“[The latter point of ASSU’s greater control over funding] is factually inaccurate,” Olivia said. “All groups currently have to go through [the] Senate to get on the ballot to petition [students]. The current process will be similar with the SAFE Reform, in that students will have to go through the Funding Board to obtain their grants.”
Senate Chair Ben Holston ’15 noted that the current special fees system actually harms SOCC’s constituent members. Four of the six SOCC groups experienced reductions in their special fees requests earlier this year following efforts by the Senate to restrict spiraling increases in sums requested. MSAN saw a 45-percent cut; AASA had a nine-percent cut; SAIO had a 21-percent cut, and MEChA experienced a two-percent cut.
ASSU Assistant Financial Manager Stephen Trusheim ’13 M.S. ’14 similarly expressed support for the proposal.
“I am a proponent of SAFE Reform,” Trusheim said. “SAFE Reform puts checks on the right place and the Senate still has control over fund allocations and students have control over major grants.”
The Senate also discussed the flaws of the current special fees system, concluding that SAFE Reform offered the best solution available.
“There is an increasing demand for activities funding and we as a student body are going to have to reconcile with this,” said Senator Zane Hellmann ’16. “SAFE Reform is a way to allow more students to get more funding. At this point SAFE Reform is the best option and any concern coming now is too late.”
The Senate adjourned following the passage of a bill to appoint Green Store’s directors and the postponement of bill regarding the confirmation of the Nominations Commission’s nominees to various University committees.
Contact Peter Moon at pmoon “at” stanford.edu.