Senate discusses possibility of alcohol reimbursements, town halls

May 14, 2013, 11:56 p.m.

The ASSU Undergraduate Senate’s meeting on Tuesday evening was relatively productive, as senators discussed the possibility of future ASSU reimbursements for alcohol and a CEO vacancy at Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) in addition to creating an ad-hoc committee for town hall meetings.

At the beginning of the meeting’s open forum, ASSU Assistant Financial Manger Stephen Trusheim ’13 M.S. ’14 introduced the issue of alcohol reimbursements by the ASSU. Trusheim explained that, contrary to popular belief, general fees funding could potentially be used to reimburse alcohol purchases. Such funding, however, would require policy action from the Senate.

“In previous years, the ASSU Undergraduate Senate has thought that they can’t use their general fees to go to alcohol,” Trusheim said. “That is untrue. They can. This has come out as a thing that is possible.”

He stressed, however, that the Senate would first have to draft a policy that would pass muster with the University.

“Until we have seen such a written policy,” Trusheim said, “[we] will be exercising our authority to reduce our liability and not fund alcohol purchases.”

The Senate seemed enthusiastic about Trusheim’s proposal, with only three senators following up on his presentation. However, Trusheim warned them that the decision to reimburse alcohol purchases would be consequential.

“[Funding alcohol] really opens Pandora’s box in terms of problems that can start rising in the ways that ASSU money is used,” he said. “We need to think about exactly what goes into providing money out of the ASSU.”


Town Halls

Senator Eilaf Osman ’16 also proposed bimonthly town hall meetings with senators in attendance.

“Our job is to find out what is happening on campus and I think the best way to do that is to have an open forum and actually ask people about what is happening around us,” Osman said.

The proposal was generally well received, with former Senator Viraj Bindra ’15 and Senator Nikos Liodakis ’16 stating that they believed a town hall meeting would offer a very different student experience.

However, Senator John-Lancaster Finley ’16 expressed concern that such meetings would simply repeat the weekly Senate meetings and that the student body might feel “bombarded with too many meetings” to attend.

“I think that there is an implicit barrier to entry to people coming here because of the formality of this meeting,” Bindra countered. “Having an open, informal dialogue would be really helpful.”

The creation of an ad-hoc committee for town hall meetings, intended to discuss the efficacy of town halls, passed unanimously at the end of the open forum. The committee was tasked with designing, organizing and implementing any potential town halls.

In SSE business, Senator Ilya Mouzykantskii ’16 voiced concerns about the SSE’s search for a CEO.

SSE had hired an individual — Eitan Winer Pinkas ’12 M.S. ’12 — but a sensitive human resources matter has prohibited SSE from allowing him to continue in the position. The position remains unfilled, though training for the position was supposed to begin at the start of winter quarter.

“It’s a big role,” Mouzykantskii said. “I believe that it is really concerning that the state of affairs has led us to the position that there is no viable candidate.”

Senators weren’t aware of the situation, having failed to learn about it from ASSU Financial Manager Neveen Mahmoud ’11. Trusheim explained that closed meetings, required for sensitive human resources matters, could only take place if the public had been informed 24 hours in advance.

Unable to explain the situation to senators at the time, Mahmoud offered to discuss it at a later date.

“I am happy to discuss details next week, maybe all together,” she said. “We get that this is a very important thing and we have been working tirelessly towards it.”

Near the end of the meeting, Trusheim accused the ASSU of conflating personnel issues within the CEO search with general apathy within SSE towards filling the position.

“It’s not like we don’t get that us not having a CEO is a big issue,” he said. “But this whole insinuation that we don’t care about why there is not a CEO of SSE, it’s not like we are not freaking out about it ourselves.”

The meeting closed with the passage of 14 funding bills.

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