Undergraduate Senate discusses special fee requests

April 16, 2014, 1:45 a.m.

Tuesday night’s meeting of the 15th ASSU Undergraduate Senate featured an introduction from newly elected ASSU Executives Elizabeth Woodson ’15 and Logan Richard ’15 and the discussion of various funding issues.

The Senate began with discussion of a bill that sought to appropriate general fee reserves to support the Stanford African Students Association (SASA), whose special fees request garnered the support of a majority of both undergraduate and graduate students in this year’s ASSU elections but fell short of being voted on by 15 percent of the combined student populations.

“This is a unique situation,” said Senator John-Lancaster Finley ’16. “Lots of student groups who serve graduate students don’t apply for joint special fees because they have to be voted by both undergraduate and graduate students.”

“If we don’t take action, SASA will have to operate with $6,000 in general fees and $2,000 in reserves,” Finley added.

According to SASA representatives, the group contributes extensively to Stanford’s culture. Last year, the group held a cultural show and a tribute to Nelson Mandela, as well as collaborating with the Graduate School of Business’ Global Speakers series and Africa Business Forum to invite guest speakers and experts to Stanford campus.

While SASA’s request for an emergency grant of $10,000 will likely pass in the next Senate meeting, that measure will still leave the group $7,000 short of its initial request.

Advocacy Committee Chair Hisham Al-Falih ’16 recommended that SASA go to the Graduate Student Council for further support.

“SASA should ask GSC for money, regardless of whether SASA receives money from the Undergraduate Senate,” Al-Falih said.

Other senators also advised SASA to ask other organizations on campus for funding, including the Bechtel International Center. Several senators also praised SASA for the group’s honesty in pursuing joint special fees.

“We will vote next week on the bill,” said Senate Chair Ben Holston ’15. “We want to help you, but this is not the extent [to which] we want to help — we want to do more.”

The Senate then discussed spending over the recommended budget for funding bills, an unprecedented occurrence for the 15th Senate. This year’s Senate collected $345,000 from the undergraduate student population as a student activities fee and $140,000 from the general fees reserve to allocate general fees to student groups.

However, the 15th Senate has allocated $510,000 in funds, thus exceeding the recommended budget by $25,000. By next Tuesday, the Senate will have to resolve the issue of how they will fund student groups with general fees for the rest of spring quarter.

As student groups request more money, the Senate has been pressured to go over the recommended budget, reflecting a growing need for financial and budgetary reform.

The Senate meeting ended with unanimous votes in favor of the Bill to Appropriate Funds for Public Financing of Senate Candidates and the Bill to Confirm the Nominations Commission’s University Committee Nominees. The latter bill will allow the students chosen by the Nominations Commission to interview for a spot on the six Board of Trustees committees. Each committee will then select one undergraduate and one graduate student to serve on the committee.

Several members of the recently elected 16th Senate were in attendance at the meeting.


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

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

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