GSC critiques constitution policy

Jan. 7, 2010, 12:05 a.m.
Approved unanimously by the GSC, Farah Abuzeid ‘10 was not confirmed by the Undergraduate Senate as ASSU co-joint chief of staff, launching the graduate council into a discussion on Wednesday of the appointment process. (DYLAN PLOFKER/The Stanford Daily)
Approved unanimously by the GSC, Farah Abuzeid ‘10 was not confirmed by the Undergraduate Senate as ASSU co-joint chief of staff, launching the graduate council into a discussion on Wednesday of the appointment process. (DYLAN PLOFKER/The Stanford Daily)

The first Graduate Student Council (GSC) meeting of the new year kicked off Wednesday night with discussion of the Undergraduate Senate’s failure to confirm Farah Abuzeid ’10 as ASSU co-joint chief of staff. Abuzeid was approved unanimously by the GSC in November, and last night’s announcement led to a critique of the lack of appointment process literature in the constitution.

Continuing with ASSU updates, Vice President Andy Parker ’11 reported that Old Union room reservations, previously completed via scheduling on door calendars outside rooms, and the ASSU book exchange will now be available online (at ASSU President David Gobaud ’08, M.S. ’10 said 450 students have used it so far to make 600 reservations.

The meeting concluded with new goals for this year on the GSC agenda in various aspects of student life, such as housing and health care, and listing the necessary accomplishments for each.

Appointments in the Constitution

Discussion arose as Andy Parker ’11 announced that Farah Abuzeid ’10 had not been confirmed as ASSU co-joint chief of staff in the Undergraduate Senate. The Senate voted 8-5 in favor of Abuzeid; however, because she failed to receive two-thirds of the votes, she was not confirmed.

GSC members were surprised at the news as Parker went on to explain that he will retain his duties as co-chief of staff while in his new position.

“I’m sorry, but that sucks,” said Chief Financial Officer Ryan Peacock, fourth-year graduate student in chemical engineering. “For the record.

“We don’t want to discourage participation in the ASSU,” Peacock added. “We want to make it open.”

Concerns were raised about the ambiguity of the constitution regarding cabinet appointments. According to Robert Hennessy, a fifth-year student in electrical engineering, it takes two-thirds of the Undergraduate Senate to remove a person from the cabinet, but there are no details regarding the appointment process.

GSC members considered the possibility of asking the constitutional council to rule on whether an appointee needs two-thirds vote for confirmation or a simple majority. Others just wanted the rule set firmly in preparation for possible future occasions.

“We should either put it in the joint bylaws or propose a constitutional amendment so that appointment laws are clear,” Hennessy said.

The GSC previously confirmed Abuzeid unanimously at its Nov. 18 meeting.

“I think the whole thing is absurd,” said GSC Co-Chair Eric Osborne. “Those who voted no in the Undergraduate Senate didn’t have a reason to do so. A qualified person like Farah [Abuzeid] should at least get the reasons for why they were voted against.”

New Confirmations

The GSC confirmed three people as new Undergraduate Senate chairs. Jen Hawkins’11 was confirmed as co-chair of Undergraduate Health and Wellness.

“The workload was getting a little heavy for the chair,” Parker explained. “We wanted to put a little more emphasis on mental health.”

Gobaud said that Alisha Tolani ‘10, the current chair of health and wellness, will now be focusing on the executive’s ongoing campaign to reduce sexual assault and relationship abuse, while Hawkins will be focusing on mental health.

“We wanted to make sure both issues would receive the attention they deserve,” Gobaud said.

Cisco Riordan ‘10 and Vincent Chen ‘12 were confirmed as co-chairs of marketing and HCI.

“They will be working on online marketing, especially in Web site design, e-fliers and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter,” Gobaud said. “They will work with every member of the team to create electronic marketing material.”

GSC Resolutions for the New Year

The GSC also recommitted themselves to previously proposed goals heading into the new year.

Nanna Notthoff, a second-year graduate student in psychology, said the GSC has compiled all possible goals to pursue and steps needed in order to accomplish them. “We will be figuring out what is most important to accomplish before winter quarter ends and elections come again,” she said.

Committees will be formed to follow the steps proposed to accomplish the goals.

Items on the GSC winter quarter agenda include GSC operations awareness, health care, housing, dining and related issues, parking and transportation, “academics and beyond” and social/programming.

Pertaining to operations, the GSC will seek a humanities representative, present a clear breakdown of GSC funding to the public and clean up the funding Web site.

For health care, the GSC plans to educate students about various Vaden resources. “Grad students don’t know much about health promotion services,” Notthoff said.

In housing and dining, the GSC will be working to improve housing options, lower housing rates and provide cheaper options in places like the Market at Munger.

As for parking and transportation, the GSC will pursue more parking options for off-campus students.

“We want to survey to see if there can be more room for off-campus students to park so that they would be more encouraged to come to this building,” Notthoff said of the Graduate Community Center.

Notthoff also said there will be more social programming for the off-campus community and professional development workshops to advertise jobs for life after Stanford.

Notthoff was optimistic about accomplishing the goals she named. “We used to make a long list of goals,” she said. “But that was really abstract. That’s why we’ve decided to make small steps to accomplish them. That way, we would really make some progress.”

A $2,000 funding request for Graduate Family Events to take place winter quarter was approved, and $400 was also requested to provide incentives for students to take a survey on the graduate budget. The Black Graduate Student Association also received funding allocations for an event.

It was announced that $2,205 was left in general discretionary funds.

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