By Sonja Hansen
At its 7th meeting, the 21st Undergraduate Senate discussed initiatives involving significant changes to the appropriations committee, an app intended to improve campus safety, plans to collect data through polls and a resolution that would restructure senators’ personal projects.
Student group funding
Senator Micheal Brown ’22 also introduced a bill meant to “Improve the Function of the Appropriations Committee,” which would require the committee to provide explanations for funding decisions, and require student groups seeking funding to provide demographics on their diversity.
Brown said that in funding applications student groups often claim to be working to be more inclusive without providing sufficient evidence.
“It helps us because we’d know if they are actually inclusive, and it helps students know what communities are out there,” Brown said.
Senator Tim Vrakas ’21 expressed his support but raised the issue of how they could enforce or check such claims of inclusivity, suggesting collaboration with the Office of Student Engagement.
Senator Mustafa Khan ’22 also raised a Friday night incident in which a deputy was seriously injured by an individual resisting arrest near a fraternity party. He segued into a broader discussion of alcohol-fueled behavior and campus safety, saying that many frosh had been seen intoxicated.
“We know that for freshmen, especially, this is very much an issue,” he said. “For a lot of them it’s their first time drinking, their first time in an environment where they’re expected to be completely responsible, but there’s always the risk that they are put at harm as a result.”
Khan said that he spoke to 5-SURE — a campus organization that provides free car rides, escorts on foot and snacks to intoxicated students — and found that the team is understaffed. The team told him that they can’t always provide help to every individual in need, he said.
In response, Khan said he and a handful of other students had begun work on an app in which frosh could send alerts seeking assistance if they feel unsafe, believe someone is following them, feel unable to go home or sense danger.
Brown and Khan told the Senate of their plans to collaborate with The Daily to poll the student body on the Senate’s performance, part of a resolution intended to increase student feedback. Khan, who manages Senate communications, pushed the Senate to strive for greater contact with students.
Senators hope that polls will allow them to proactively address potential dissatisfaction with the Senate “rather than waiting for them to come to us with problems,” Khan said.
“We as a Senate have to commit to hosting a town hall,” he added. “If anything, this is the one thing we should be doing this year.”
Besides town halls, Brown and Khan pushed for general polling on campus issues through The Daily. In a meeting over the weekend, Daily Editor-in-Chief Julia Ingram ’21 told Brown that The Daily could conduct the polls and publish the results.
The resolution will be voted on next week.
The Senate also discussed a resolution that would move toward restructuring the personal project, in which senators work individually on an issue. Some Senators expressed complaints that the projects do not encourage collaboration or working toward common goals.
“We’re not going to be able to accomplish a lot in one year if we can’t work with each other,” Senate Chair Munira Alimire ’22 said. “We need to rethink personal projects. I really want to talk about this a lot more in the next week because I want us to be intentional on how we change it.”
“So much of The Daily’s past criticism is that we haven’t been doing our personal projects,” Senator Martin Altenburg ’21 said. “It’s not that we don’t want to do them, we want to have meaningful projects, just not on an individual basis but with more teamwork and collaboration.”
Some former members of ASSU attending the meeting expressed their support for a redesign.
Alimire opened the meeting with the announcement that Callisto, a site directing survivors of sexual assault to resources at their disposal, has been down for a few days and that Title IX is attempting to restore it.
She added that Senator Mia Bahr ’22, who was absent from the meeting, and a few other individuals outside of ASSU, have an upcoming meeting with Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole about racially-motivated crimes in light of the noose that was discovered outside of Columbae in July.
Senator Kobe Hopkins ’22 described his work to ensure “permanency for Stanford’s black community” by communicating with Brubaker-Cole, Senior Vice Provost of Education Harry Elam and the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) program. He sought to emphasize the importance of administrators attending black community events as a show of support.
Contact Sonja Hansen at smhansen ‘at’ stanford.edu.