Senate debates campaign spending bill

Oct. 27, 2010, 3:05 a.m.

The 12th ASSU Undergraduate Senate decided Tuesday evening on the spring 2011 ASSU general election date, received the resignation of the Appropriations Committee Deputy Chair and began animated discussion on a bill to cap campaign spending for ASSU executive candidates.

The spring 2011 general election will take place April 7 and 8, two weeks after the beginning of spring quarter.

Senator Ben Jensen ’12 submitted his resignation Tuesday as deputy chair of the Appropriations Committee, citing a heavy course load and difficulty in attending meetings.

“The needs of the committee and my personal needs are not being met, so in the interest of the committee I feel I should resign,” Jensen said.
Senate Chair Michael Cruz ’12 told his fellow senators they may apply for Jensen’s position, and Jensen may choose to join another committee in place of Appropriations. Jensen’s replacement will require two-thirds approval by the Senate.

Executive Campaign Finance

ASSU President Angelina Cardona ’11 and Vice President Kelsei Wharton ’12 presented a bill on previous notice containing campaign spending caps for executive elections, as well as other stipulations for executive candidates. Most notably, the “Bill to Reform Elections to Create Equal Access to the Executive Office” would cap expenditures for slates receiving public financing at $750 and would require slates to submit itemized budgets of campaign expenses. The ASSU executives would allocate $3,000 from their budget to the Elections Commission for public financing for candidates.

The bill would require slates to gather 300 signatures in order to receive public financing, with 100 each from undergraduates and graduate students — an increase of 100 signatures from current policy, aimed to make it difficult for less-serious slates to receive funding.

“You don’t necessarily need to spend, spend, spend to run a good campaign,” Wharton said, introducing the bill. Without spending caps, he argued, potential candidates may be deterred from running.

Cardona spoke of creating a “culture where people of all backgrounds feel like they have the opportunity to decide to run.”

Zachary Warma ’11, a senator last year, attended the meeting specifically to voice numerous concerns about the details and philosophy of the bill. (Warma is chair of the Daily editorial board.) The 10th and 11th Undergraduate Senates rebuked similar campaign finance bills, Warma said.

Warma argued that the bill would unnecessarily politicize the role of ASSU financial manager and elections commissioner and questioned the bill’s necessity.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Warma said, noting that executive campaign expenditures have decreased since hitting spending highs in 2008.

Senator Robin Perani ’13 argued in favor of spending caps, citing her own difficulty in deciding whether or not to run for Senate despite monetary concerns that almost caused her to drop out of the race.

“It’s unfair and discriminating against someone’s socioeconomic status,” Perani said.

Warma responded, saying, “If there are people with different
circumstances who want to run, they will find a way.”

Discussion of the bill was suspended until next week.

Internal Development Chair

Also discussed on previous notice was a bill proposing the appointment of a Senate internal development chair to plan social events for the Senate. The bill, authored by Perani, would select Pat Bruny ’13 as this year’s inaugural chair.

Both Perani and Bruny expressed a demonstrated need for Senators to interact outside of their official duties.

“Us understanding each other as people is essential to the way we work together,” Perani said, adding she hopes the bill, if passed, will affect future years.

When Minh Dan Vuong ’11 reminded the Senate to set an appropriate balance between work and play, Senator Will Seaton ’13 said social events will be considered additional to normal working hours.

Green Events Consulting

ASSU executive chair of sustainability Theo Gibbs ’11 and co-president of Students for a Sustainable Stanford (SSS) Molly Oshun ’11 presented to the Senate Tuesday on Green Events Consulting, a new ASSU and SSS initiative designed to help student groups “green” their events. A pilot program debuting this winter quarter will grant seven to 10 volunteer student organizations the opportunity to meet one-on-one with green events consultants in an effort to follow the Green Events Checklist, a list of guiding criteria for event sustainability.

The Senate passed all of the evening’s funding bills and budget modifications.

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