By Erin Woo
In its 13th meeting, the 20th Undergraduate Senate discussed the operation of a working group seeking to align funding policies for student groups with the Fundamental Standard, including by clarifying guidelines for invited speakers and instituting a “best practices” checklist for student events.
Senators also unanimously confirmed two first-year graduate students, Viktor Krapivin and Garrett Jensen, to the Constitutional Council. Both Krapivin and Jensen have experience serving on student governments as undergraduates – at Rutgers University and Santa Clara University, respectively – and both were confirmed without any questioning from the senators.
They will join Jayaram Ravi ’19 and Carson Smith ’19, who were confirmed in October of this year, and Josie Bianchi ’20, who is currently abroad.
The meeting began with a presentation from Remy Gordon ’20, deputy chair of the 19th Undergraduate Senate and current member of the working group, on student group funding policies.
The working group was created in the final meeting of the 19th Undergraduate Senate after the outgoing senators ran out of time to vote on a bill that would have given the Senate the power to financially penalize student groups whose invited speakers were perceived to be in violation of the Fundamental Standard.
According to Gordon, the working group would not have any such power; any action taken against student groups would need to be by the Undergraduate Senate.
Instead, the group – whose current members are Gordon, former senator Erica Scott ’20, Senator Jianna So ’21 and Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Director of Academic Freedom Zintis Inde – plans to create an “ASSU Guide to Free Speech and Student Events.” The guide would consolidate and clarify University policies that already exist publicly.
In addition, the group seeks to institute a “best practices” checklist for student groups, including using a moderator at speaker talks and encouraging debate-style events instead of speeches.
“[The ‘best practices’ checklist] could come along with a ‘seal of approval’ for events,” Gordon said. “This would not mean that events can or can’t happen. It would kind of be an extra mark that this group is contributing positively to campus discourse.”
Recently, Stanford College Republicans’ (SCR) invitation of far-right conservative author-filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza to speak on campus has drawn sharp criticism, including two petitions opposing SCR’s request for ASSU funding for the event. Jewish Student Association member Sarah Myers ’21, who authored the petitions, pointed to D’Souza’s past statements, including retweeting a tweet including the hashtag “burnthejews,” in labeling him anti-Semitic.
Despite the controversy D’Souza’s invitation has sparked, Gordon emphasized that the working group’s goal is to create “content-neutral policy” and as such as has not been influenced by the high-profile invitation.
“Anything like [D’Souza] should not be influencing and has not influenced our decision-making process, because regardless of who’s invited or under what circumstances, our goal is to foster a community of respectful dialogue,” Gordon said.
SCR’s standard grant request is scheduled to be discussed by the Senate at the end of November.
“Senate is currently reviewing standard grant applications, and we should have those finalized by … Nov. 27 or some shit,” said Senator Jamie Seney ’21.
It was later clarified that the standard grant applications would be finalized by Nov. 25.
Contact Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu.