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Senate speaks standards, solidarity, and student safety

At its 8th meeting, the 21st Undergraduate Senate discussed initiatives to improve Senator efficiency and accountability, affirmed their continued support for Chanel Miller and considered additions to student safety service 5-SURE. 

Senator Micheal Brown ’22 proposed a resolution to require minimum engagement standards for Senators as part of a push to enhance accountability and communication amongst the Senate and student body. The resolution comes in response to questions of Senate productivity and the proposed transition towards more collaborative work in lieu of personal projects. 

Brown advocated for changes to Senate training. Traditionally, preparation for incoming Senators contained material on the independent “personal projects” which Senators undertook. 

“With the job of senator being to attend committees and responding to emails, the focus in training on personal projects does not prepare you for the job,” Brown said.

“It’s important that we are approachable and able to be held accountable,” Senate Chair Munira Alimere ’22 added. Alimere suggested the implementation of Senate office hours in campus community centers in order to remove the distance between the Senate and the student body. 

Community engagement was a focus of the resolution. Senator Martin Altenburg `22 advocated for “wider perspective on students at Stanford.” 

Senators discussed specific measures, such as requiring members to attend a certain number of critical University events each quarter and ensuring Senators submit updates to be published at specific intervals which would be determined by the Senate. 

However, Senator Sarah Saboorian ’22 raised the question of enforcement, pointing out that the only punishment is complete removal from the Senate. If a Senator failed to submit a resolution, for example, they would not be punished until the end of their term, at which point such punishment would not hold meaning. The Senate voted to push this resolution to next week for further deliberation.

Senator Mustafa Khan ’22 proposed his bill to fund a newly developed ASSU-5 SURE mobile application SafetyNet which aims to improve campus safety and increase 5 SURE services.

“The idea is to get awareness about this out,” Khan explained.  

The bill proposes funding to support the app’s development and server costs with the goal of increasing student use of the service. 

However, there were doubts about the app’s effect on 5-SURE’s efficiency, seeing as the service is already understaffed. The app would not solve the issue of lack of 5-SURE drivers, and would potentially exacerbate this issue. 

While Senators disagreed about the long-term effectiveness of the app, they reached a consensus that greater efforts should be made to enhance campus safety through community programs. 

The Senate decided to push this bill to their next meeting, though the app has already launched. 

The Senate also reaffirmed their continued support for survivor Chanel Miller, proposing the bill as a statement to the Faculty Senate and university at large. 

“We are urging the provost to issue an official apology and instate the quote suggested by Chanel Miller,” said ASSU Executive Erica Scott ’20. 

The bill reiterates calls for the addition of a quote from Miller’s victim impact statement to the on-campus memorial plaque. 

The Senate also discussed the resignation of Senator Joshua Pe and considered the addition of a 15th Senator as a replacement, perhaps a current member of the Senate Associate Program. The bill will be discussed further and finalized next week. 

While the Senate did not move to vote on any of the new resolutions discussed during the meeting, they did pass bills deliberated upon at their last meeting, including those regarding improving communication with the student body, facilitating respectful on-campus political movements and improving the function of the appropriations committee and personal projects. 

“The work that we will do will change the Senate for a very long time,” concluded Alimire. 

Contact Brooke Beyer at bbeyer ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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