Senators debate controversial memo recommending juniors, seniors not return in spring

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After the release of an Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) executive memo that drew criticism from some upperclassmen, Senators and attendees argued both in favor of and against the measure at Tuesday evening’s Undergraduate Senate meeting.

The ASSU executives’ memo, which was released on Feb. 12, recommended against bringing juniors and seniors to campus for spring quarter due to recent reports of noncompliance with Stanford’s campus compact. 

At the meeting, Stanford Review editor-in-chief Maxwell Meyer ’22 expressed concerns that the memo had not represented the Stanford student body in its recommendation. Earlier on Tuesday, the editorial board of The Review called for Vo’s resignation due to the ASSU executives’ failure to represent student interests. 

“The risk to students, staff and the surrounding community from juniors and seniors coming back to Stanford is near zero,” Meyer said.

In response, ASSU President Vianna Vo ’21 joined the call to refute Meyer’s statements. Because of time constraints, she said, the ASSU was not able to survey the student body before sending the memo to Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole. Vo did note, however, that all class presidents and the ASSU executive committee approved the statement. 

On Tuesday night following the meeting, the Senate also emailed to students a survey, drafted by Senator Jonathan Lipman ’21, to assess student preferences concerning a spring quarter return.

“Guys, I’m a senior too,” Vo said. “But the reality is, as someone who has worked in the healthcare system for the past nine months, I’ve seen what it’s like to constantly have alarms go off because people are coding.”

Senate Chairman Micheal Brown ’22 ended the discussion, saying, “If we want to be petty and messy, we can be petty and messy. But if we want to get things done for people, and be serious, intelligent adults like I know we all are, then we could do that as well.”

Senators also abandoned their resolution concerning Week 10 work guidelines. The resolution initially urged Faculty Senate members to “reevaluate the composition of work” throughout Week 10 to prevent students from bearing an “undue burden” as the quarter ends. However, resolution co-author Lipman said that the Senate will be “switching tactics” by instead focusing on collecting student testimony to address this problem. 

“This path forward won’t require more Senate action,” Lipman said.

Senator Mià Bahr ’22 also introduced “The Freshman Senators Act,” which would allow freshmen to serve as ASSU senators. Though the bill is still in the works, Lipman suggested that the Frosh Council send a liaison to Senate meetings as an “ex-officio” member to immediately remedy the issue of frosh representation. The liaison would not have voting powers, and the change would not require a Constitutional amendment. Senator Michaela Phan ’23, ASSU liaison to the Frosh Council, said that she will arrange for a liaison to attend meetings.

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Jackie Henley is a writer in the News section. She is a sophomore from Glendora, California, and is studying political science. She enjoys riding horses as a member of Stanford's Equestrian team in her free time. Contact The Daily’s News section at news ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.