In their last meeting, the Undergraduate Senate tabled a pilot bill to fund extracurricular program participation for low-income students and students on financial aid. The bill requires a significant ASSU contribution of $35,000, and has been up for debate since last spring with more changes to come.
The Diversity and First Gen (DGEN) office is the official financial account holder for the fund and started working with the Full House Fund last spring, offering the initial $15,000 for the proposal. Former ASSU Executive member and Social Scene Issue leader Joshua Seawell ’18 initially designed the bill for low-income students wanting to join Greek life last spring.
“It’s a fact that Stanford low-income students face an un-level playing field when it comes to extracurricular opportunities on campus, especially in Greek life, and it’s unconscionable that we wouldn’t commit some of our abundant campus resources to fixing that,” Seawell said.
The Undergraduate Senate rejected the proposal last year because it lacked a financial plan and only supplemented Greek life, not all student groups.
Seawell put together a working group during the summer to build a better bill, including members Kayla Guillory ’18 and Senator Gabe Rosen ’19. The working group has continued editing and adjusting the bill into the current academic year. Rosen and Guillory co-authored the bill presented to the Senate last Tuesday.
The new bill provides funding for low-income students joining many student organizations, including Greek life, student groups and club sports. It also outlines a confidential application process led by the DGEN office so that the funding does not affect the students’ financial aid package.
First-Generation/Low Income Partnership (FLIP) endorsed the new bill. The co-president of FLIP, Sydney Osifeso ’17, says that the remodeled bill is more inclusive of all students.
“Opening up space where we can make opportunities for [first-generation low-income (FLI)] students is something that we wholeheartedly support,” Osifeso said. “I think we should take on anything we can do to make student groups more inclusive of FLI students.”
FLIP offered the Full House working group additional changes with the endorsement, which Guillory said would be added to the bill.
“This is going to change, this is going to evolve,” Guillory said. “It was designed that way. I really hope the Senate sees that.”
The bill was tabled last Tuesday due to questions on the expense and confidentiality. Several senators expressed concerns that students wouldn’t be comfortable sharing their financial needs, or would feel less of a part of the group. Rosen assured the Senate that the only parties aware of students on funding are one DGEN office member and the head of the organization that the student joins.
Guillory and Rosen are hopeful that the bill will pass this evening.
“It is a great step forward for inclusion and it sends a signal to all current students and all future students that this is a school that takes the concerns of low-income students very seriously,” Rosen said.
According to Rosen, the fund would help between 125 and 1,000 students, depending on the need of the students and number of applicants. The working group hopes to start funding winter quarter.
Rosen also said that as soon as the Senate approves the legislation, the current working group will send out applications for a committee. The committee would collect feedback from student organizations, regulate funding and communicate with DGEN.
Rosen and Guillory praised Seawell as the creator of the Full House Fund and for setting up the working group and connections with DGEN and FLIP. Seawell said that he is glad to see the bill realized.
“I strongly support this bill, which takes a big first step to solve an abhorrent issue,” Seawell said. “I urge the Senate to do right by low-income students in our community and pass it on Tuesday. In my view, their vote is a referendum on equal opportunity.”
Contact Gillian Brassil at gbrassil ‘at’ stanford.edu.