ASSU Senate concludes debate on banking waiver

Feb. 22, 2012, 2:30 a.m.

The ASSU Undergraduate Senate passed a bill during its Tuesday meeting exempting The Stanford Daily from the ASSU constitutional mandate requiring student groups to bank through Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE). Following a debate that spanned three Senate meetings, although most agreed with the preservation of The Daily’s current banking system, senators disagreed about the bill’s provisions.


Senators Ben Laufer ‘12 and Ian Chan ‘14, co-authors of the bill’s final version, supported a clause requiring The Daily to post its audit on the spring Special Fees ballot. They also favored another clause requiring The Daily to submit its financial receipts to SSE quarterly rather than annually, as The Daily has historically done.


“We’re just trying to make things better, for all parties. I don’t see any reason not to do it quarterly,” Laufer said, arguing that a one-time filing of the approximately $90,000 annual Special Fees request from The Daily would impose an unnecessary burden on SSE.


Other Senators, including Dan Ashton ‘14 and Alon Elhanan ‘14, argued that the provisions would force The Daily into requirements that are unprecedented for other Voluntary Student Organizations (VSOs). Although General Fees groups are required to submit their funding requests to SSE quarterly, Special Fees groups such as the Daily are not, Appropriations Chair Brianna Pang ‘13 said.


The Senators debated whether or not it is within the Senate’s power to require a group to post its nonprofit audit on the special fees ballot, and whether the Senate can regulate the timing of a Special Fees group’s invoice submissions to SSE.


Laufer and Chan argued that the nature of the exemption gave the Senate discretion to adjust the requirements for The Daily. Elhanan said that he thought the constitution was sufficiently vague to be up for interpretation and offered up his interpretation — that the constitution prevents the Senate from requiring an audit on the Special Fees ballot, as this might interfere with the electoral process of special fees.


After a straw poll on the bill’s wording, which resulted in a split vote between “requiring” and “encouraging” The Daily to file quarterly reports, the Senators opted out of the binding provision and approved a clause encouraging The Daily to submit reimbursement requests to SSE quarterly.


Instead of requiring The Daily to post its annual audit on the special fees ballot, the final bill included an amendment, suggested by Senate Parliamentarian Alex Kindel ‘14, requiring that The Daily “provide documentation to the student body on the Spring Elections ballot that fulfills the requirement specified in Appendix I, Section 4.E.10 of the ASSU Joint Bylaws.” This section of the bylaws requires The Daily to provide a “numerical table” with information about the current and following fiscal years, to inform the student vote.


Special Fees approval


The Senate approved five special fees funding bills Tuesday to be voted on by the general student body in the spring election.


All of these bills were unanimously approved except for the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) budget, which Laufer opposed. ASB, a VSO which hosts spring break trips and programs that promote public service and student activism, submitted an approximately $90,000 budget proposal that met all ASSU guidelines.


“For a group that immediately serves less than 5 percent of [the] Stanford undergraduate population and rejects so many others, I do not think undergraduates should contribute $12 to $15 each towards a $90,800 budget,” Laufer said in an email to The Daily explaining his opposition.


Clarification: This article previously stated that in following Appendix I, Section 4.E.10 of the ASSU Joint Bylaws, as stipulated in a bill passed Tuesday by the ASSU Senate, The Daily will have “several options” of how to report financial information on the special fees ballot. The Daily will be required to provide a “numerical table” detailing information about the current and following fiscal year budgets. The Daily “shall have the option of dividing [its] budget into Special Fee funded and non-Special Fee funded portions,” as stated by the bylaws.

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