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Senate discusses public transit, fair trade

The 17th ASSU Undergraduate Senate met this Tuesday for their penultimate meeting. Two bills remained on the agenda for the Senate.

 

SSS Pushes for El Camino Transit Resolution

Students for Sustainable Stanford (SSS) have spearheaded a resolution to support public plans by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) spanning from Palo Alto to San Jose.

The BRT project would introduce bus lanes on El Camino that would expedite the public transportation service. If completed, this particular project would mark the second of three BRT projects in the South Bay Area. The first BRT, the Santa Clara to Alum Rock corridor, is scheduled to finish this year.

The VTA is currently deliberating whether to move forward with the Palo Alto-San Jose project. They are assessing community support, and the City Councils of Los Altos and Mountain View have already voted in favor.

SSS is pushing for recognized Stanford support as Palo Alto City Council considers this topic.

There was some discussion and continued clarification about Section 5 of the Undergraduate By-Laws regarding the necessity of direct impact on Stanford students. This item was cited in the previous meeting regarding the Fair Trade Resolution.

“Does that clause exist to show that it’s a uniquely Stanford problem or that if you weren’t at Stanford, it wouldn’t affect you?” asked Senator Gabe Knight ’17.

The resolution asserts that the Stanford community would be greatly impacted by the BRT service as students and faculty commute throughout the South Bay Area for residential, professional or recreational purposes.

Supporters of the BRT claim it will offer a valuable mechanism of commute for Bay Area residents, especially as low-income workers rely heavily on these services. Supporters also claim enhanced public transportation options will reduce traffic and tackle air pollution.

“El Camino is turning from a car-oriented/-dominated corridor to really an urban corridor,” said John Ristow, Director of Planning and Program Development, VTA. “The character of that street is changing and this is the kind of system that will serve that very well.”

The Senate was not able to vote on the item without previous notice. There was a discussion to suspend the rule of order to vote on the bill, but the bill was ultimately not voted on.

“I’d rather let the undergraduate population air its views on this for a few days before voting on it,” said Senator Hattie Gawande ’18.

 

Fair Trade Resolution Stalemate

Matthew Cohen ’18, Administration and Rules Committee Chair, gave an update of the work with the author of the Fair Trade Resolution in order to assess the Bill’s constitutionality.

According to the Senate, there needed to be significant evidence that the Resolution was pertinent to the Stanford community as designated in Section 5 of the By-Laws (the same clause discussed in the BRT resolution).

The author was also asked to talk to administrators in charge of approving the use of the “Stanford” name in conjunction with an outside organization.

The resolution could not be voted on because it was not deemed constitutional.

It was also brought to light that the author of the resolution was being paid in some capacity.

“That raised some serious questions for me,” Cohen said.

 

Contact Alex Bourdillon at abourdil ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Alexandra Bourdillon

Alexandra Bourdillon

Alexandra Bourdillon '18 is a freshman from Cupertino, CA. When she's not eating waffles, she can be found reading tea leaves or quantifying the land-speed velocity of a swallow (African, not European). After Stanford she hopes to explore the world, although the Bay Area will always be her home. To contact Alexandra, email her at abourdil ‘at’ stanford.edu.