Oct. 21 ASSU Senate recap

Oct. 22, 2014, 8:14 p.m.
  • Senators discussed a bill that would amend the study abroad restrictions on first-year senators. Senator Victoria Kalumbi ’15 has plans to go abroad winter quarter but is currently prohibited from doing so according to by-laws as they are written now. Senator John-Lancaster Finley ’16, the author of the original bill allowing senators to go abroad during their term, explained that “the intent of the [original] bill is to motivate upperclassmen to join senate” and to retain the “institutional knowledge” that is lost when senators do not run for re-election because of the requirement to serve all three quarters of their term.
  • The Senate postponed discussion of “Bill to Assign Reserve Accounts to Student Groups” and “Resolution on General Fees Funding for Housed and Greek Organizations” until next week’s Senate meeting. Prior to the vote, Eric Theis ’16, Senate Treasurer and author of the first bill, made explicitly clear that “this bill is not to be a final solution but something that incentivizes [reform].” He also explained that the bill, if passed, would not be in effect until the next fiscal year starting in July, allowing time for the bill’s constitutionality to be challenged during the time leading to its effective date. Senate Chair Ben Holston ’15 was disappointed that the bills were not going to be discussed that night. “If you want to postpone this bill, I understand but you have a responsibility as a senator to get yourself in the position where you are ready to vote. It’s not okay for us to keep kicking this can down the road, assuming that it’s going to fix itself.” The bill permits the Senate to supplement the general fee with up to $150,000 from special fee reserves under the conditions that the Senate has to have made “a significant effort to pass comprehensive funding reform on an election ballot” and that the general fee funds are depleted. Theis also detailed that an equal percentage will be withdrawn from each special fees group’s reserve accounts and that special fee groups will receive “at least a one month notice” that the Senate is making withdrawals from their reserves.
  • Olivia Bryant ’15, president of the Stanford branch of Seneca International, a woman volunteer student organization (WVSO), defended her retroactive funding request in front of the Senate, asking that she and a Stanford professor be reimbursed for $1,000 and $2,500 respectively. The money was used on a micro-finance event organized by the WVSO. Appropriations Chair Jackson Beard ’17 felt strongly that the request was not the “Senate’s issue,” but rather something for the Women’s Coalition, a special fees group that supports WVSOs on campus. “The unwillingness of the Women’s Coalition to fulfill their duties as an umbrella organization is separate from our duty to fund student groups. Because they are not willing to reimburse you and the professor that contributed, it has nothing to do with our decision as a senate. At the end of the day what they want to do with their money has nothing to do with us… This is not a request that we need to be revisiting for the third or fourth time.” Seneca’s request for funding was approved by the Appropriations Committee last year but did not receive Senate approval. After a lengthy discussion about possibly setting a precedence for retroactive funding or leaving a student $1,000 “out-of-pocket,” the Senate voted and denied Seneca’s funding request.
  • In his executive report, ASSU Vice President Logan Richards ’15 announced a mental health town hall this Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. at a location that is to be announced and “[gave] a nod” to all of the senators who hosted the ASSU Senate’s town hall discussion about funding student groups.
  • Financial Manager Assistants Justine and Olivia Moore ’16 reported that the myGroups website is receiving a “facelift” to make it easier to use for students and student groups. Additionally, they announced plans for a press release that will provide numbers for student group’s discretionary line items, how much money is in graduate and undergraduate general fees and other financial figures regarding student group funding.
  • Constitutional Council case Finley v. Undergraduate Senate was heard October 22 at 9 p.m. The Parliamentarian made good on his threat to sue the Senate after the Senate passed a bill allowing ex-officio members of the senate to vote in committee meetings. Senate Chair Ben Holston described the case as a “throwdown of epic proportions between Senate titans.” The case was heard by the ASSU Constitutional Council, chaired by Geo Saba ’15.
  • The Senate approved a bill to appropriate $6,000 from the Traditions Fund to fund Mausoleum, organized by the Class of 2017 this year. The Traditions Fund is a $13,000 fund.

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