At Tuesday’s Undergraduate Senate meeting, Stanford Concert Network was told that they would need to collect 1,200 signatures this week to be on the spring ballot. The Senate also approved a nomination for a graduate student to fill an opening on Constitutional Council.
Being present on the ballot would allow Stanford Concert Network to receive funding for next year through annual grants from the Undergraduate Senate, if the student body votes to approve the group’s requests.
According to the ASSU, Stanford Concert Network’s budget was not approved because they did not meet with the Appropriations Committee as described in the instructions for requesting an annual grant. Therefore, funds for Stanford Concert Network were not included in the annual grant’s package of $2.23 million that ASSU Senate voted to put on the ballot last week.
Stanford Concert Network had submitted their funding application, but one of their representatives missed an email that asked the representative to meet with the Appropriations Committee to discuss the group’s funding request.
Stanford Concert Network members are worried that they will not be able to garner the appropriate number of signatures for their petition in time, especially given that finals week can be a busy time for students.
Stanford Concert Network is a student group that provides live music on campus through sponsored events like Snowchella, Black Love, Blackfest and Frost. They are requesting $306,175 – a 20 percent increase from last year’s request.
“There are several groups that are in [their] situation that we’re not making exceptions for,” said Senator Eric Theis ’16, member of the Appropriations Committee, in reference to Stanford Concert Network.
If Stanford Concert Network is unable to garner enough signatures to make the ballot, they could still apply for standard or quick grants at the start of next year.
According to Theis, the next Senate might be reluctant to pass Stanford Concert Network’s whole budget in the form of standard or quick grants because it would eat up a large chunk of the senate’s discretionary funds for groups at the start of the year.
In addition to addressing Stanford Concert Network, the ASSU Senate chose and then nominated a graduate student for Constitutional Council. In the past, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) has argued that graduate students lacked representation on Constitutional Council, said ASSU Senator John-Lancester Finley ’16 at Tuesday’s meeting.
ASSU Vice President Logan Richard ’15 brought two candidates before the Senate to ask their input on whom they would like to nominate to Constitutional Council, a five-person body that hears cases where the constitutionality of an “association legislative body, the President of the Association or any member(s) of the Association is called into question.”
Four of those seats are currently filled by undergraduates, and one seat is filled by a co-term student.
“I think it is important to have at least one graduate student on the council,” said Finley, who also announced his candidacy for ASSU Executive at the meeting.
The Senate chose to back the nomination of Stephen Richards, who is a third-year law student who is involved in the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at the law school.
Two of the Senators initially expressed opposition to Richards because of a brief he wrote expressing a dissenting opinion on the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) vs. Graduate Student Council (GSC) case. Richards’ brief was against the 4-1 Constitutional Council vote in last year’s ruling against funding an SAS-sponsored conference.
Richards’ brief for the case maintained that the GSC violated the ASSU Constitution when it rejected funding for the conference on the grounds that the society’s advocacy of marriage as only being between a man and a woman constituted hate speech. Richards wrote that the First Amendment protects “hate speech” unless “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless acts.”
Richards maintained that the threatened minority was SAS and not the LGBT groups that found this event offensive.
“Of course, if feeling unwelcome really were grounds to censor speech, [it] is SAS, not the LGBT community, that would deserve protection,” Richards wrote in his brief. “SAS members and their supporters were compared with slave owners, blamed for suicides and had their views branded as ‘unacceptable on Stanford campus.’”
As the senators discussed whom they would like to nominate, other ASSU senators maintained that it was inappropriate to only nominate candidates who share similar views as their own, especially if the candidates are otherwise qualified.
In the end, 10 Senators voted in favor of Richards receiving the nomination, and three voted in favor of MaryJo Lopez ’15, who is a resident assistant at Terra and works at the Stanford Sexual Health Peer Resource Center.
The ASSU Senate then approved the nomination, and Richard plans to present the candidate before GSC during the first week of spring quarter. Richard also emphasized that there will be another opening on Constitutional Council next year.
“For anyone who is interested, Geo Saba, who is the Chair [of Constitutional Council], will be graduating this spring, so there will be another opening for Constitutional Council,” Richard said.
At the end of the meeting, the Senate also passed a bill to amend the language of the by-laws to be more inclusive of those who do not identify with the male/female gender binary.
Contact Alexis Garduno at agarduno ‘at’ stanford.edu.