In its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, the ASSU Undergraduate Senate approved funding for various student groups, including Kappa Kappa Gamma for Snowchella, deliberated and voted against a bill to modify senate by-law policies and passed a resolution for a sustainable dining hall.
The bill to modify the Senate by-law policies, drafted by Viraj Mehta ’18 and Christian Sergent ’18, called for proposed student petitions to be vetted by the Senate for impartial language, feasibility and adherence to University policy.
“I am interested in making sure the way student government runs is how a true democracy would run,” Mehta said. “Currently, referenda just need a number of signatures, and they are put on the ballot without being vetted for impartiality of wording. A question’s wording can affect the democratic process and can make the outcome of a referendum election invalid.”
Several Senators expressed reservations regarding the exact details of the changes the bill would propose.
“[Mehta and Sergent] may not have thought through the exact minutiae but I think that’s important,” said Gabriel Knight ’17, Senate Advocacy Committee Chair. “It is a cool idea in theory but it is important to know how it will work in practice.”
Others conveyed concerns about the bill unjustly inflating the Senate’s authority.
“We feel like this is giving the Senate more power without the consent of the student body,” said Pablo Lozano ’18, proxy for David Wintermeyer ’17. “We don’t think it’s democratic of us to give ourselves more power without oversight.”
ASSU President John-Lancaster Finley ’16 argued that the bill conflicts with the constitution by abridging the student’s power to petition.
“Our constitution creates a direct democracy, like the California referendum policy,” said Finley. “That is the intent of our constitution and how our democracy was intended. If the ASSU were to come to a point in which it decided that this is not a good system, there should be a bigger conversation amongst the entire student population.”
The bill failed to pass, but Mehta and Sergent will continue to work with the Senate to develop and propose a revised version of the bill.
The Senate passed a resolution in support of a sustainable food-themed dining hall, which would create a mainly vegan dining hall in Roble Dining.
At the start of the meeting, Michele Dauber, professor of law and sociology, gave a presentation, in which she detailed and presented the inconsistencies of Stanford’s Climate Survey.
Kappa Kappa Gamma asked for and received $6,000 to secure the audio farm budget for the speakers and logistics necessary for Snowchella.
This year, the proceeds from Snowchella will go to the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization focusing on ending sexual assault and domestic violence, rather than Support for International Change as it has in past years.
“We chose to change the organization this year because this is an issue that both [Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sigma Nu] are extremely passionate about; we want to extend the impact beyond the event itself by doing things like fundraising through social media,” said Madeleine Lippey ’18, Kappa’s director of philanthropy. “We want to make sure people know that this is a philanthropy event.”
Contact Pallavi Krishnarao at pallavik ‘at’ stanford.edu.