Senate discusses $400k fund

Dec. 7, 2011, 2:03 a.m.

The ASSU Senate meeting started off with a closed meeting between the Undergraduate Senate and the internal review panel for judicial affairs.


Senate Chair Rafael Vazquez ’12 asked that reporters and people not associated with the ASSU leave the meeting, at the request of members of the panel. Vazquez told The Daily that the topic of the closed meeting was the preponderance of evidence standard for sexual assault on campus.


This action may have violated the ASSU Joint Bylaws, which state that there are only three reasons a legislative meeting may be closed: to “discuss the appointment, the employment, the performance, or the dismissal of an Association member or employee who is neither the President, the Vice President, nor a member of an Association legislative body,” to “discuss pending litigation” or to “discuss proprietary business practices.” No mention of personal requests from panel members is included in the ASSU constitution.


The Senate re-opened the meeting after an hour and received an update from Neveen Mahmoud ’11, CEO of Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE), the financial arm of the ASSU. Mahmoud praised the successful opening of Ground-Up, the new coffee shop set up by the SSE.


Mahmoud then informed the Senate about the $400,000 buffer fund that was discussed last week, after Stephen Trusheim ’13 requested money be allocated from this fund to a concert he was helping to plan,


Mahmoud informed the senate that every year Stanford students are charged 10 percent higher than what is deemed necessary to fulfill special fees requirements. This 10 percent is used to account for students who choose to not pay their special fees and also to cover mistakes. Last year two student groups were incorrectly left off the special fees ballot, and the ASSU covered their expenses from this buffer fund.


Money from this fund was again requested, this time by organizers of BlackFest. Looking to book an artist capable of pulling in large crowds, BlackFest organizers have been in contact with Grammy-nominated J. Cole.


BlackFest is requesting $40,000 due to an increase in interest and cost. Renting Frost Amphitheater would cost the group $62,000, and they say they simply don’t have enough money to pursue a big-name artist.


This money could come in the form of a grant or a loan, to be paid back by revenue generated from ticket sales. Current internal projections put the cost of a ticket to BlackFest at $30, thus organizers are requesting funding for a big-name artist to ensure that enough tickets are sold.


Senators expressed a desire to talk further with Mahmoud about the origin and actual amounts of this buffer fund before making any funding decisions. However, the bills are time-sensitive, as both groups wish to start negotiations with artists before January.


Pending senators’ availability, Vazquez hopes to schedule an emergency meeting of the Senate over finals week to vote on these bills.


Senators also asked ASSU Executive Michael Cruz ’12 questions about the resignation of ASSU Chief of Staff Emma Ogiemwanye ’12. Some senators expressed confusion as to why her going abroad was not discussed during the interview process, and Cruz responded that there were no plans for her to go abroad at that time.


Senator Brianna Pang ’13 asked why Ogiemwanye decided to go abroad during fall quarter of this year, after she’d already accepted the job as Chief of Staff for the ASSU Executive. Cruz responded that Pang would have to ask Ogiemwanye.


Vazquez also briefly addressed the Senate, encouraging senators to stay involved over winter break.


“Any senator who is going to be online or able to meet during winter break, we’ll be hashing out more details for winter quarter, re-hash our goals and reorient ourselves into being more effective.”


No legislative bills were passed during this week’s meeting.

Brendan is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. Previously he was the executive editor, the deputy editor, a news desk editor and a writer for the news section. He's a history major originally from New Orleans.

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