Undergraduate Senate overrides Executive veto on funding bill

Nov. 2, 2014, 11:39 p.m.

In response to Tuesday’s veto of a funding reform bill, the Undergraduate Senate held a meeting on Saturday, overriding the Executive’s veto with a 12-3 vote, which was more than the two-thirds majority needed to override the executive veto.

The Bill to Assign Reserve Accounts to Student Groups was passed on Tuesday by the Senate with a 14-1 margin but was vetoed by the Executive.

In his introduction, Senate Chair Ben Holston ‘15 characterized what happened on Tuesday as “unfortunate” because the veto was not used, in his opinion, in the correct manner – as a tool to promote negotiation and communication.

He nonetheless urged the Senators not to take the events personally, and stated that nobody was “better qualified” than the Senate to deal with these funding issues.

Discussion over this bill, which would potentially take up to 10 to 15 percent of the reserves of Special Fees groups to pay for general fees groups has been ongoing for three weeks.

According to Holston, the alternative is “far more damaging.” He expressed concern about a significant number of general fees groups not being able to operate at their baseline level if the bill did not pass.

This sentiment was echoed by most of the Senators.

“It cannot be overstated that this is a hurtful system that we have put in place and that we are currently operating under,” said Senator John-Lancaster Finley ’16.

He strongly disagreed with the point that this bill was distracting from larger concerns.

“We’re having the greatest conversation about funding we’ve ever had on this campus since I’ve been here,” Finley said. “I don’t think [this bill] is distracting us at all; I think it’s motivating us.

According to Senator Anthony Ghosn ’16, this bill gives the Senate “a lot of power to bargain in favor of the 600-something General Fees groups.”

“This way, Special Fees have some skin in the game,” Ghosn said. “Before they had no skin in the game, everything was working exactly the way they wanted. Now they’re facing that their reserves are chipped away at for the next [10 or so years] if they don’t sit at the table with us. I think that’s a really important tool for us.”

ASSU President Elizabeth Woodson ’15 characterized the current situation as “a lineage of lots of bad decisions.”

Woodson stressed the importance of maintaining a long-term view instead of putting band-aids of a failing system.

“[We must make] the decision we feel is the most responsible for everyone, not just this year, not just right now,” Woodson said.

Contact Nikhita Obeegadoo at nix19 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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