GSC discusses Special Fees, constitutional revision

Jan. 14, 2010, 12:04 a.m.

Potential constitutional revision dominated Wednesday’s GSC meeting, with a proposed bill to reduce special fees spending and talk of clarifying the ASSU staff confirmation process with members still upset over the rejection of Farah Abuzeid ’10 to the position of co-chief of staff.

The meeting began with funding requests from two student groups. The GSC approved $250 for the Pakistanis of Stanford and $4,221 for the Stanford Africa Business Forum. After approval of these requests, GSC funding committee chair Ping Li raised a concern about fund use.

According to Li, some student groups may be lying about funding an event for the well-being of the student body when instead they are simply buying food for their officers. Li proposed a transfer of $500 from the food account to the internal account. The money would be used to hire an auditor to keep student groups in check.

“If we find they did anything to abuse the funds, then they can’t access funds for the rest of that fiscal year,” Li said. The pilot project will be implemented immediately and will be continued in following years.

“We’ve been doing it by honor so far,” said Justin Brown, deputy chair of the funding committee, “but people have been screwing with the system.”

In an attempt to curb special fees spending, the GSC also discussed a possible Special Fees bylaw change to prevent groups from increasing their budgets by ten percent without oversight. The bill, entitled “A Bill to Reduce Growth in Special Fees Spending,” was also discussed during Tuesday’s ASSU meeting.

Currently, student groups requiring special fees get an automatic budget increase of ten percent each year, plus inflation.

“If you want to increase your special fees budget, then you have to do it the way everyone else does it — which is to petition,” Brown said.

According to co-chair Eric Osborne, existence of the student groups will not be affected, but their funding may be decreased due to GSC oversight.

“They shouldn’t be able to add ten percent willy-nilly to their budgets every year,” Osborne said.

School of Education representative Eric Shed agreed with Osborne on the special fees bill.

“This strikes me as a fair, practical, and effective solution, and that is an irregularity in legislature,” Shed said. “I just want to acknowledge that.”

Voting will be delayed until next week in order for GSC members to familiarize themselves with the proposal.

ASSU Announcements

Following the discussion on special fees reduction, undergraduate outreach chairs Adrienne Pon ’12 and Britt Kovachevich ’09 were unanimously confirmed as legislative liaisons for the ASSU.

The next announcement was an introduction to a new initiative that aims to help student groups by offering free technology consulting services for maintaining their websites. Basic website techniques will be taught at Old Union on Jan. 15 and Jan. 22 from 4-6 p.m.

Other ASSU announcements included a salary/benefit negotiation workshop called “MAANuary: MAAN Mustache Challenge” and the “Hack-a-thon” for coders as an alternative to the Dance Marathon.

The Mustache Challenge involves Stanford men growing out their facial hair and then accepting bids to shave them, in order to raise money to prevent violence against Stanford women. The “Hack-a-thon” allows for students not keen on dancing to still participate in the marathon.

“If you have computer science or software development skills, you can code for 24 hours instead of dancing for 24 hours,” said ASSU President David Gobaud ’08 M.S. ’10.

Constitutional policy revisited

The confirmation of Abuzeid to the co-chief of staff issue was revisited as Osborne asked Parker for an update of the pending positions. According to Parker, there will be no case to clarify the issue. GSC members were not satisfied with the statement.

“We want to get this issue cleared up,” Osborne said.

The GSC debated the possibility of claiming that harm is done by not confirming Abuzeid. According to parliamentarian Robert Hennessy, harm needs to be done in order for the GSC to bring the issue up to the constitutional council.

“I can honestly say that the GSC is harmed because Andy [Parker] is overworked,” Osborne said in reference to Parker taking up both positions of vice president and co-chief of staff in the meantime.

“Arguably, every student at Stanford can bring up a case,” he added, “because they are all affected by Andy being overworked.”

Members proposed the idea of draft to clarify the voting procedure regarding ASSU confirmations in the bylaws.

According to Adam Beberg, doctoral candidate in computer science and former GSC member, the Senate may be acting against their constitutional power in attempting to prevent Abuzeid from being confirmed.

“It’s a staff position, not [an] employee,” Beberg said. “It’s not something we should be voting on.”

Login or create an account