ASSU Senate talks VSOs, sustainable dining hall, special fee waivers

Oct. 28, 2015, 12:39 a.m.
A bill to change VSO funding guidelines will be voted on next week. (MCKENZIE LYNCH/The Stanford Daily)
A bill to change VSO funding guidelines will be voted on next week. (MCKENZIE LYNCH/The Stanford Daily)

On Tuesday night, the ASSU 17th Undergraduate Senate met for the 12th time, discussing the involvement of pre-professional groups with the open membership bill as well as a bill to require Volunteer Student Organizations (VSOs) to purchase custom products through Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE). The Senate continued discussion regarding a sustainable food themed dining hall.   

Regarding funding, the motion to approve all funding bills as recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committee passed unanimously. The groups involved with these funding bills include the Stanford Democrats, Stanford Storyboard Club, Math Magic and the Stanford Conservative Society amongst others.

Additional costs outside of the budgeted $24,500 for Mausoleum were covered by the ASSU Exec.

Administration and Rules Committee Chair Matthew Cohen ’18 continued discussion regarding the creation of a sustainable dining hall on campus after meeting with the executive director of Stanford Dining.

“We are going to keep [this bill] on the docket for some time,” Cohen said. “They are thinking of revitalizing Roble Dining Hall, so they were very receptive to our idea of making it vegan-themed or emphasizing sustainability.”

The Student Life Committee (SLC) worked with Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) to clarify the rights of students and student groups, particularly with regard to the open membership bill.

“We want to work with SAL in the future to make things more clear to student groups [about] what their rights are,” said Student Life Committee Chair Molly Horowitz ’18. “We just have to do a better job of providing that information.”

“VSOs might be afraid of sharing honest complaints with SAL since SAL controls their existence as a group,” said Academic Affairs Committee Chair John Luttig ’18.

Next week, the Senate will vote on a bill as an addendum to the standard funding guidelines to require VSO custom products purchasing through SSE. This bill will require VSOs receiving funds to get their custom apparel and paraphernalia through SSE’s custom printing services in order to keep money within the ASSU rather than external contractors.

“We will cut into any profit margins that exist and make sure that we are providing the best prices, and the money will go to the ASSU,” said Financial Manager Frederik Groce ’14 M.A. 15. “The bill is set up such that for groups that are getting funding from us directly, we are their first option; this is to keep money within the ASSU instead of money moving out because any sort of external entity will have profit margins.”

ASSU executives John Lancaster-Finley ’16 and Brandon Hill ’16 met with the Provost regarding sexual assault prevention and to discuss the timeline for implementing the recommendations from last year’s task force report. The recommendations should be implemented starting winter quarter.

Regarding the plans to have John Legend come to Stanford, Legend and his wife will be having a baby around the time initially discussed for him to come, but there is a possibility of his coming earlier or later than anticipated.

Groce highlighted the increase of waiver rates in terms of students voting for special fees.

“We should be educating students about why they should not be waiving fees and educating them on what the impact of that is on student groups,” he said.

If the waiver rate is greater than 10 percent, this may impact annual grant groups in keeping their usual budgets next year; this year, SSE covered the extra cost with a buffer fund.

Groce sought senator input in finding a new financial manager to replace him.


Contact Pallavi Krishnarao at pallavik ‘at’

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