After successfully overriding the ASSU Executives’ veto over the weekend, the Undergraduate Senate met Tuesday night to discuss, among other things, the possibility of holding a special election to address funding issues.
Despite ratifying the bill allowing the Senate to use up to $150,000 from Special Fees reserves to supplement the General Fees, some of the Senators felt uncomfortable immediately increasing allocations to General Fees groups.
Among the eight bills up for vote Tuesday night, two were authored by the Financial Manager Frederik Groce and his assistants Olivia Moore ’16 and Justine Moore ’16. Their “Bill to Call for a Special Election,” which calls for a special election in December “for the purpose of voting on a comprehensive funding reform bill,” was the subject of much debate.
If a funding reform bill on a special elections ballot garners enough student votes to pass, then a new funding system would be implemented starting winter quarter, potentially replacing the General Fees-Special Fees system.
However, if a funding reform bill passes in the regular spring elections, it would not go into effect for a full academic year, due to the Special Fees budgets on the ballot.
After considerable discussion, the bill failed to pass, garnering only six “yes” votes from the 15 Senators.
Senator Anthony Ghosn ’16 expressed disapproval of the bill, saying that the Senate is getting ahead of itself by not even having a funding reform bill yet to put on the ballot.
“I feel like we are putting the cart before the horse. We don’t have a reform created,” Ghosn said. “I think that doing this at the end of the quarter where we have a Thanksgiving break, doing it the week right before finals…It might be better to do it winter quarter.”
Senator Jackson Beard, chair of the Appropriations committee, echoed Ghosn’s thoughts.
“I don’t know why we are calling an election on something that doesn’t exist,” Beard said, pointing out that the Senate has yet to draft a funding reform bill. “I think it’s irresponsible.”
However, there was considerable support for the bill coming from other senators and a student in attendance at the Senate meeting.
Parliamentarian John-Lancaster Finley ’16 expressed support for having a fall election.
“Timeline shouldn’t be a worry,” Finley said. “ The ASSU is more than prepared to have an election.”
Alizabeth McGowan ’16, a student and a regular attendee of Senate meetings, also encouraged the Senate to have an election this quarter.
“We need to look longer term,” McGowan said. “ [A special election] pushes us to get reform on the table. If it fails, we work on it again, we vote on it again…The world is not going to end if we have an election this quarter.”
The Financial’s Manager second bill invoked less of a debate but, too, failed to pass.
According to Olivia Moore, one of the bill authors, the bill was “somewhat motivated by the bill that passed on Saturday” and would require that the “Financial Manager be notified of any legislation that substantially changes the current understanding of our funding system” or other funding related matters.
Eric Theis ’16, author of the bill that passed over the weekend, responded to Moore saying that that this new bill is unnecessary.
“Having [a bill] on previous notice is the purpose for that,” Theis said. He added that the Financial Manager is able to make a motion to postpone the bill if he needs more time for consideration.
The Senate voted on several other bills that night, one of which would create an equipment rental system for student groups.
“Bill to Create ASSU Senate Equipment Rental System” passed with 14 votes in support and one abstention. The bill allows for the Senate to create an equipment renting system available to student groups free of charge. The purpose of the bill is so that “all student organizations can allocate less of their budget to equipment purchases with the establishment of a free rental service.”
Finally, without any discussion on the bill, the Senate voted in Viraj Bindra ’15 and Brianna Brown ’16 as proxies for the Senators going abroad winter quarter. Bindra will serve as the proxy for Senate Chair Ben Holsten ’15 and Brown will serve on behalf of Senate Deputy Chair Victoria Kalumbi ’15.
ASSU Vice President Logan Richard ’15 announced in his Executive report that the Executives have been working with Angela Exson, director of the SARA office, to organize a training session for all branches of the ASSU.
The training session will be held this Thursday from 6-7 p.m. in Old Union 215. Additionally, Richard mentioned that an online module educating users about sexual assault is possibly in the works.
“It is very much in the planning phase,” Richard said.
Contact Chelsey Sveinsson at svein ‘at’ stanford.edu.