Senate discusses SAFE Reform proposal

Feb. 26, 2014, 2:19 a.m.

The 15th ASSU Undergraduate Senate voted to approve the Student Activities Fee (SAFE) Reform proposal at its meeting Tuesday evening.

Authored by various members of the ASSU, including co-president Dan Ashton ’14 and financial analysts Justine Moore ’16 and Olivia Moore ’16, the SAFE proposal aims to lower the student activities fee, recycle unused money currently trapped in the system and make it easier for student organizations to apply for funding.

Its passage as an amendment will require two-thirds approval from the Senate, two-thirds approval from the Graduate Student Council and a majority of yes votes from at least 15 percent of the undergraduate student population in the spring election. If approved, the reform will be fully implemented in the 2015-16 academic year.

Before turning to writing the actual amendment, the Senate had spent several meetings debating the inefficiencies in the allocation of funding to student organizations.

“The SAFE Reform Bill will simplify the complex special fees process,” said Angela Zhang ’16, appropriations committee chair. “It is definitely an improvement from the current system.”

Justine Moore and Olivia Moore explained that Major, Minor and Quick Grants will replace the pre-existing system of special and general fees.

“Like Special Fees, Major Grants will be the major source of funding for big student organizations,” Justine Moore said. “Prior to putting the grants on ballot, they have to be approved by the Funding Board and Senate.”

Replacing the Appropriations Committee, the Funding Board will be responsible for the allocation of student fees. It will be composed of four senators and three non-Senate members appointed by the outgoing Funding Board.

Under the proposed reform, all organizations will have the opportunity to apply for Minor Grants, which are available once a month and will effectively replace the current system of general fees funding. Quick Grants will also be made available to organizations that need big one-time expenses or last-minute funding for activities they couldn’t have requested in advance.

Under the proposal’s stipulations, special fees groups will also have their reserves frozen on June 30 this year. The groups will subsequently be able to spend the reserves but not add to them.

Finally, SAFE Reform also proposes limiting increases in student activities fees. Student fee may be subject to increase by inflation and the Senate will be able to vote annually to increase the fee, but this will be limited to no more than 5.5 percent over inflation.

The Senate ended the meeting with Zhang’s update on the recommended budget for the Robotics Club, which was reduced by approximately $90,000 from the proposed estimate of $150,000 in response to the late submission of the group’s special fees application.


Contact Peter Moon at pmoon ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.

A previous version of this article said that for approval of the SAFE Reform 15 percent of the voters would be required, however the correction was made that this was actually 15 percent of voters that would need to vote with a majority approving. Additionally, the previous version had reported that only smaller organizations would be able to apply for Minor Grants when in truth, all organizations are able to apply for the Minor Grants. The Daily regrets these errors. 

Peter is currently a deputy desk editor and a freshman majoring in economics (anticipated). He enjoys soccer, basketball, and fitness.

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