Op-Ed: New general fees policies inspired by principles

Opinion by and
Oct. 20, 2010, 12:10 a.m.

Every Stanford student will be affected by the implications of this op-ed. The ASSU Undergraduate Senate funds over $300,000 in student programming each year, giving students opportunities from experiencing traditional Mexican folk dance to playing Quidditch. Every candidate in last year’s elections had something to say about Appropriations and student funding.

This week, the Appropriations Committee of the 12th Undergraduate Senate is proud to finalize and release the new General Fees policies for the 2010-2011 academic year (available at senate.stanford.edu). After five months of dedication — including two all-campus town halls, research into the process of student funding, and meetings with financial officers, student leaders, administrators, SSE staff and other ASSU student government officials — the committee has created a set of policies that is based on student input, collected financial data and the work of previous Appropriations Committees. These changes are based around three basic principles: increased communication, increased programming and increased feedback.

The Appropriations Committee’s first main initiative is to close the communication gap between the student body and the Undergraduate Senate. Each financial officer (FO) of each voluntary student organization (VSO) applying for general fees will be assigned a member from the Appropriations Committee to act as a liaison between that particular VSO and the committee. This liaison will answer questions about funding, myGroups and the ASSU student government, working to stop problems and address issues before they arise. The committee will soon launch a Facebook profile, which will serve as a more convenient and informal method for Stanford students to ask questions about funding. Along with the recently revamped Senate website, the Appropriations Committee will be able answer FO questions with a variety of resources.

One huge change this year is that the committee will be promoting greater student programming by funding events that would not usually be funded via loans. These loans will allow student groups to put on more programming and float larger upfront costs. This year, loans will be issued to student groups after consideration of the committee’s regular policies along with the likelihood that the group will be able to repay the association. Student groups interested in pursuing this should contact the committee in advance.

The committee has stated one of its major goals is to optimize the line item amounts and caps based on hard data and feedback. The Committee now distinguishes between line items (GL Codes) with three terms: not funded, subsidy/capped amount and fully funded. In the past, this distinction has implicitly existed; this year it will be explicitly outlined. Furthermore, this year’s committee is incorporating economies of scale into its funding policies in line with the theory that buying in bulk is cheaper per unit. Beyond this, the committee has also formalized retroactive funding, decided to fully reimburse gas costs for community service groups, and adjusting other line items.

The newest Appropriations Committee was formed five months ago. We seek to be better than our past and set the standard for future Appropriations Committees.

For more information, please e-mail [email protected] and [email protected].

Rafael Vasquez ’12, Chair of the Appropriations Committee

Michael Cruz ’12, Chair of the Undergraduate Senate

Stewart Macgregor-Dennis ’13, Senate Treasurer

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