Two members of the 15th ASSU Undergraduate Senate will seek re-election to a second term through this year’s spring ballot, making them the first incumbent Senators to do so in three years. The Daily sat down with Senate Chair Ben Holston ’15 and Senator John-Lancaster Finley ’16 to discuss their time in office and their plans for their second term.
During his time leading the 15th Undergraduate Senate, Holston helped champion the SAFE Reform proposal, a measure that aims to simplify and improve the current student activities funding system. The bill will join Holston on this year’s ballot.
“[If the bill passes] we will be instituting a new funding system,” Holston said. “There will be tons of work involved educating student groups and funding system will change pretty significantly.”
Looking ahead to a prospective second term, Holston said that he hopes to employ his experience in educating future Senators and student group leaders on the dynamics behind the measure and the details of the new quick, minor and major grant options open for students.
“I know that leadership [will be] required in enacting SAFE Reform with the new group of incoming senators,” Holston said as a reason for his decision to run again.
Holston’s campaign last year was centered on helping student-athletes and resolving student dining conflicts as elicited by the Suites controversy. While the latter issue has since been resolved, Holston — a former varsity swimmer himself — said that helping student-athletes will remain a priority for him going forward.
“A huge part of what I want to do [is] with athletics,” Holston said. “I want to get them better class times because practices often occur during the [current] times. A lot of these guys have to come back for a fifth year and pay tuition for another year because they couldn’t take some of those classes because of travel policies.”
Holston also identified improving academic department communication of class issues and facilitating a more unified ASSU as priorities. With regards to the latter, he expressed interest in developing joint initiatives between the Senate and the ASSU Executive to improve inter-departmental and institutional communication.
“Ben and John-Lancaster’s re-election will encourage a continuation of institutional knowledge,” said Senator Zane Hellmann ’16. “Institutional knowledge is quickly lost in the undergraduate career due to a one year turnover and having two [veteran members] will help the next senate. They are great candidates, and I fully support their reelection.”
Deputy Chair Anna Breed ’16 also commented on the importance of institutional knowledge.
“I am really excited that both of them are re-running,” Breed said. “I think the most important thing for the ASSU in general and for the Undergraduate Senate is to maintain institutional knowledge. Encouraging upperclassmen and returning senators to run is what we hoped to accomplish when we lifted the going abroad restriction.”
Finley, who co-led the Joint Legislative Committee on Judicial Affairs and led the Senate’s Administration and Rules Committee, is the Senate’s expert on the ASSU Constitution and bylaws. According to Finley, his particular duties require a large amount of institutional knowledge and experience in the ASSU.
“It took me about a quarter and a half to familiarize myself with the Constitutional bylaws and processes of the Senate,” Finley said.
This year, Finley’s platform rests on upholding community standards, reviewing the method in which the students are appointed to University committees and scrutinizing the efficacy of the honor code.
“As the undergraduate student body representatives, we have a role in seeing whether the honor code needs to be overhauled,” Finley said. “We also need to make sure accused individuals have their rights preserved.”
The University is currently in the process of discussing the efficacy of the Honor Code, a contractual understanding between students and the faculty.
“If we are to discuss the Honor Code, we need to work with the Office of University Standards and Judicial Affairs,” Finley said. “In order for there to be a serious comprehensive approach to that situation, we will need serious communication, which will require experienced ASSU officials who were involved with forging the honor code — many of whom will be graduating this year.”
Similar to Holston, Finley has singled out problems of communication between student representatives chosen by the Nomination Committee and the ASSU.
“We often have student voice represented in committees, but we have never created a relationship between them and the ASSU,” Finley said. “We need to repair this avenue of communication between the ASSU Senate and Nomination Committee representatives.”
If elected, Finley will be the only Senator who has experience with the Appropriations Committee, SAFE Reform bylaws, Judicial Affairs and Joint-Legislative Committee.
Voting will take place on April 10 and 11.
Contact Peter Moon at pmoon ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.