ASSU Senate discusses retroactive non-funding for student groups

May 13, 2015, 7:58 p.m.

The 17th Undergraduate Senate met on Tuesday night to discuss retroactive non-funding, the Fair Trade resolution, and Senator’s ex-officio status.


Retroactive Non-Funding Upheld

Every new Senate inherits a body of laws and precedents from previous years. This week, the 17th ASSU Senate dealt with policy introduced by the 16th ASSU Senate on retroactive funding.

The issue arose when the Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society, requested retroactive funds for the speaker event it held on Friday, May 7th called the “Future of Technology & Entrepreneurship.” Tau Beta Pi requested financial support from the ASSU for this all-campus event. Because the meeting with the Appropriations Committee occurred after the event itself, the request was deemed “retroactive.”

The 16th Senate passed a bill that prohibited retroactive funding. This law was enacted during a time of financial constraint, which was in part due to the overspending of the 15th Senate.

“[The bill was passed] last fall when the 16th Senate had undergone some of the roughest funding period in the spring,” said Senator Malcolm Lizzappi ’17, who was also a member of the 16th Senate. “We had some ridiculous amounts of requests. I think we over-allocated about $300,000 in funding and a lot of that was because of retroactive funding.”

Retroactive funding makes predicting future budgets difficult and can cause financial imbalance. It also becomes more difficult to assess these requests as students claim they have used personal funds for a group’s event.

ASSU Executive John-Lancaster Finley ’16, a member of both the 15th and the 16th Senates, noted that, “retroactive funding put us in the situation where we had to overhaul everything…while that was a policy in the 16th Senate.”

Some Senators felt a responsibility to maintain consistency with previous policy in order to ensure fairness to all student groups. Money that goes to retroactive funding deducts from the same funds that are distributed to all student groups who apply within the guidelines of ASSU funding.

“I personally think that it would be the most fair to say that we can’t do retroactive requests, let’s see if we can work with Student Activities and Leadership, let’s see if we can work on raising some outside money,” Finley said.

Senator Leo Bird ’17 suggested additional communication and financial officer training to avoid situations in which groups faced consequences for misunderstanding or not knowing certain guidelines.

“I think a better way to approach the situation… [would be] to look into mediating the cause before they come to us,” Bird said.


Ex-officio status

The idea of carrying policy between Senate terms also came up during the approval of ex-officio status for a Senator Proxy appointment. There was a brief discussion about the duration of that status, how it could be modified, and how long it could constitutionally carry into the future.


Fair Trade University

There was continued discussion on a bill that was introduced last week to support a Resolution to certify Stanford as a Fair Trade University. A co-author addressed questions through a Skype call. There was agreement that more specific details were needed in the description of the bill.

“In order for me to not veto this resolution, what I would like to see within the language of it, is a lot of the things that were clearly included… verbally or in email,” Finley said. “Constitutionally the bill is insufficient in saying how it directly affects Stanford students.”


New Venue in Bio/Chem Quad

There was an update about plans for the new food venue that will be added to the Biology/Chemistry Quad. The administration is considering a location and student food preferences. There has been suggestions that the price for a meal range about $7 to $10.


Contact Alex Bourdillon at abourdil ‘at’

An earlier version of this article stated that the organization had not received outside funding — in fact, they did. The Daily regrets this error.

Alexandra Bourdillon '18 is a freshman from Cupertino, CA. When she's not eating waffles, she can be found reading tea leaves or quantifying the land-speed velocity of a swallow (African, not European). After Stanford she hopes to explore the world, although the Bay Area will always be her home. To contact Alexandra, email her at abourdil ‘at’

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