ASSU proposes new governing document

Feb. 27, 2012, 2:08 a.m.

The ASSU released a newly proposed constitution in a campus-wide email Saturday night.


ASSU President Michael Cruz ’12 and ASSU Parliamentarian Alex Kindel ’14 co-wrote the document, which at 32 pages is nearly half the length of the current constitution. Cruz and Kindel serve as co-chairs of the ASSU Governing Documents Commission (GDC), a body that Cruz chartered in spring 2011.


“Going into writing [the proposed constitution], there were definitely things that I understood as needs, for instance the special fees process, representation by undergraduate and graduate students and the structure of the University committee system,” Cruz said.


Cruz described the key goals of the overhaul as refocusing the mission of the ASSU back to its initial goal of advocacy and programming and ensuring that each branch of the ASSU has a clearly defined mission. He added that the “legislative branch’s power of the purse” is enhanced in the new constitution.


Before being released to the general student body, the proposed constitution was reviewed by ASSU senators, Graduate Student Council (GSC) members and administrators. The GDC also studied the governing documents at peer institutions such as UC-Berkeley, Brown, Harvard, Princeton and Yale, and spoke with former student body presidents both from Stanford and other universities.


Cruz said that the GDC will move to introduce bills about the constitution to the Undergraduate Senate and GSC this week as a way of shifting the conversation about the document into a more formal setting. He added that the GDC is not asking either body to vote on the bills this week.


The new constitution must be approved by both legislative bodies – or petitioned onto the ballot if rejected – before the student body votes on the document. If two-thirds of Stanford students approve the bill (this two-thirds must comprise at minimum 15 percent of both the undergraduate and graduate student populations), then the document will be sent to the University President, Provost and Board of Trustees for approval. These individuals would then send the bill back as either approved, approved with qualifications or denied. If the bill is approved with qualifications, the GDC will work to incorporate the final comments, Cruz said.


The final stage of the approval process can take anywhere from two weeks to several months, Cruz said.


The ASSU will hold four more feedback sessions regarding the proposed document. The first session was held last Friday before the document was publicly available. An initial feedback session planned for Thursday was postponed.


The upcoming sessions will be held Monday from 8:30 to 10 p.m. in Old Union Room 215, Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. in Old Union Room 104, Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Arrillaga Family Dining Commons and next Monday, March 5, from 8:30 to10 p.m. in Old Union Room 104. According to Cruz, these feedback sessions will be located in Old Union and Arrillaga in hopes of maximizing the number of students who will attend.


“We want feedback from the average Stanford student, not just simply the person who’s going to reach out and try to find it,” Cruz said. “We wanted to have [the feedback sessions] in places where people can swing by for 15 minutes or five minutes or whatever.”


The last full constitutional overhaul occurred in 1960.


“The entire system of the ASSU is in need of an update,” Cruz said.

Alice Phillips '15 is Managing Editor of News at The Stanford Daily. Previously, she worked as the paper's Deputy Editor, Chief Copy Editor, a News Desk Editor and a News Staff Writer. Alice is a biology major from Los Angeles, California.

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