The Undergraduate Senate passed a bill on Tuesday night that would refine the role of the ASSU Publications Board and discussed a separate piece of legislation that would put caps on campaign expenditures in ASSU elections.
The “Bill to Improve Campus Publications,” co-authored by ASSU publications directors Zachary Warma ’11 and Alice Nam ’11, aims to raise the previous ASSU funding cap of $6,000 for individual campus publications to $10,000.
“Traditionally, the reason for the publication board is to take up-and-coming publications, give them a couple of years of funding and send them off on special fees,” Warma said. “As we’ve seen in the last two elections, publications–particularly, those that are trying to improve–lose out on the special fee ballots because they weren’t able to mount an all-scale campus-wide campaign.”
Nam said by increasing the amount of funding that can be given, publications like Stanford Scientific Quarterly could be completely taken off of special fees in the future. She also said the publication board typically receives $70,000 from discretionary funding each year. Historically, it only spends $40,000 of this amount.
“It would make sense to make sure the money goes to funding student groups instead of being floated into the reserves year after year,” Nam said.
Senate Chair Madeline Hawes’13 initially said there had not been enough time to review the bill when it was presented for discussion during the meeting. She took a straw poll to determine whether or not to vote on the bill last night, but the majority voted against taking action on the legislation.
However, when Nam clarified that the bill had been sent prior to the Monday at noon deadline, Hawes said it was a mistake that the item had not been placed on the agenda. The Senate took a five-minute recess to read the bill.
In the end, the bill gained the two-thirds majority necessary with two revisions: it no longer states that the publication fund would be pegged to one-tenth of the Undergraduate Senate General Fund and that the ASSU publications director would serve as the grammarian of the Undergraduate Senate.
The discussion then turned to the “Bill to Reform Elections to Create Equal Access to ASSU Elected Positions,” which was co-authored by ASSU President Angelina Cardona ‘11 and President-elect Michael Cruz ‘12. This piece of legislation aims to put caps on the amount candidates can spend in ASSU general elections: up to $100 in Senate races and $400 in class president races.
Lauren Felice ’14, who ran in the sophomore class president race under the slate “Face to Face,” talked about the difficulty of competing against candidates with higher spending budgets. She described how this circumstance takes the focus away from substantive issues in election races.
“I support the $400 limit,” Felice said. “I think one of the hardest burdens was buying T-shirts in this election. A $400 limit would eliminate that very high cost option, which I don’t think is representative of competence in that position.”
Many senators, however, expressed concerns that putting a financial cap would heighten the influence of endorsing organizations in election process. Quinn Slack ’11, the former Elections Commissioner, said the change would give ASSU incumbents a greater advantage, making it harder for those outside the student government to get involved.
“This is like capping a leaking hose,” Warma said. “You cap it at one place and it’s going to blow up at another place.”
Senator Will Seaton ’13 suggested holding a town hall to discuss the issue with the student body.
All spending bills–including one to fund The Claw magazine–were passed.