ASSU Senate discusses Fair Trade Agreement, plans for summer

May 20, 2015, 2:22 p.m.

The 17th ASSU Undergraduate Senate revisited the Fair Trade Bill and previewed future plans, before the quarter begins to wrap up.


Fair Trade Resolution Bill tabled again

For the third week in a row, the Senate has discussed the Bill to Make Stanford a Fair Trade University. The discussion was two-fold: examining the constitutionality of the proposed bill and the content of the specific issue at hand.

Serving Parliamentarian Matthew Cohen ’18 invoked Section 5 of the Undergraduate By-Laws: “All resolutions must… show that the issue has a direct effect on at least one Stanford student who is affected by the matter in a substantially different manner than would be the case if he or she were not a University student.”

Some Senators gave their interpretations on this particular article and how the Fair Trade Resolution fit in.

“To me the constitutionality… comes down to whether the component of choice is eating at a dining hall or whether because you are eating at a dining hall and…you are in fact forced to eat a product that is not fair trade,” said Senator Hattie Gawande ’18.

The resolution’s author did Skype in to the meeting last week to address the specific language of the bill and was assured the Administration and Rules Committee would continue oversight. This meeting has not been concluded and some of the concerns last week about the specific effects of the resolution have not been amended.

“Last time… we brought up these issues of constitutionality, and then the author expressed a question [about] if there was anything we could do to help her out in making it more constitutional and I feel we’ve failed in that if we’re coming to this conversation today and still arguing whether it’s constitutional,” said Senator Leo Bird ’17.

There was a discussion about the merits and cautions of “Fair Trade” itself. This included some arguments offered by Harry Elliott ’18, who recently published an article on the issue for The Stanford Review.

“It is not at all clear to me that the empirical data as to whether Fair Trade is efficacious or actually exists; the Fairtrade Foundation often uses individualized case studies in areas that look good for it, rather than conducting randomized-sample trials… that would be nicer to see before we commit,” Elliot said at the Senate meeting.

Nanci Howe, director and Dean of Student Activities and Leadership, raised the question as to whether the resolution would give an outside entity the ability to label the University, something that the Undergraduate Senate does not have the power to give.

“I don’t think ASSU can give an off-campus organization permission to affiliate with the name Stanford University,” Howe said. “There is a staff person in the University who can make those decisions.”

Some Senators also asked why the author approached just the Undergraduate Senate instead of considering a joint resolution, since the resolution would affect graduate students as well.


Other items

ASSU Executive Vice-President Brandon Hill ’16 gave a brief report on the “Real Talk at Stanford” event hosted last week. It brought together 50 student leaders from diverse student groups to generate dialogue about issues on campus.

A resolution to support El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transport was introduced and will be voted on in the next meeting.

Communications Committee Chair Eni Asebiomo ’18 announced plans to enhance the ASSU website over the summer.


Contact Alex Bourdillon at abourdil ‘at’


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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