ASSU Senate discusses grant program, music practice spaces

Jan. 22, 2013, 11:34 p.m.

At its Jan. 22 meeting, the ASSU Undergraduate Senate discussed interest in their $80k grant programs and voted to fund the purchase of equipment to furnish a temporary music practice space in Stern Hall.

Stanford Student Enterprises CEO and ASSU Financial Manager Neveen Mahmoud ’11 opened the meeting with a brief financial update and highlighted an ongoing effort to simplify the ASSU’s finances for student government representatives.

“It’s a huge project of ours, and we’ll hopefully have some great information for you soon,” Mahmoud said.

In a closed portion of the meeting, senators discussed the nomination of Eitan Winer Pinkas ’12 M.S. ’12 as Mahmoud’s replacement. Senators will vote on the subject next week.

ASSU President Robbie Zimbroff ’12 M.A. ’13 updated the Senate on the progress of the University’s new food truck policy. While Zimbroff hesitated to draw conclusions from the program’s first two weeks, he emphasized the significance of upcoming weeks in determining the pilot program’s future.

“The next couple of weeks are definitely going to be indicative whether this is something that will gain traction with the student body,” Zimbroff said.

Zimbroff also highlighted the upcoming Nominations Commission applications, in an effort to avoid replicating last year’s disorganized selection of students for 40 university committees.

“You guys remember the mess it was last year,” Zimbroff said. “We want to start early and not get crunched for time.”

Appropriations Committee Chair Nancy Pham ’14 drew attention to the award of nearly $50,000 to student groups participating in the Senate’s “Redefining Student Life: The 80K Challenge” winter grant program.

“It’s been hugely successful,” Pham said, noting that most groups that were denied funding would be able to request funds from conventional University sources.

The Senate voted unanimously to increase the funding available for the winter grant program – originally set at $40,000 – to $50,000, accommodating the recommended disbursement of $49,824.15. The Senate will vote at a future meeting on a further proposal to adjust funding for the spring quarter program to a total of $75,000.

“I’m assuming there’s going to be a ton more funding [requested],” Pham said.

Communications Committee Chair Viraj Bindra ’15 updated senators on the progress of the Senate’s new website, discussing the possible inclusion of a petition form to solicit ideas from the student body. The much-maligned Senate website is now nearing completion, according to Bindra.

The Senate quickly allocated a maximum of $1,500 from discretionary Student Life Committee funds in order to purchase instruments and equipment for an interim practice space in Stern Hall, after a lack of practice space frustrated student arts groups last quarter. The Senate passed the bill unanimously.

In other business, the Senate passed a bill allocating buffer funds to the ASSU Financial Manager to upgrade the ASSU’s myGroups2 accounting software. The Senate will discuss Pinkas’ nomination, as well as bills addressing the Senate’s attendance policies and spring grant program, at the body’s next meeting on Jan. 29.

Marshall Watkins is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily, having previously worked as the paper's executive editor and as the managing editor of news. Marshall is a junior from London majoring in Economics, and can be reached at mtwatkins "at" stanford "dot" edu.

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