The 17th Undergraduate Senate’s final meeting this quarter saw Senators discuss Stanford’s decision to withdraw funding and administrative support for Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ) due to cases of sexual assault and alcohol transports.
The Senate also heard a public records request on the management of Stanford Student Enterprises and discussed bills to clarify club budget processes for student groups and to put the Campus Climate survey on the ballot.
Full Moon on the Quad
ASSU vice president Brandon Hill ’16 brought the news from vice provost for student affairs Greg Boardman that the University is to cut off funding and support for FMOTQ. FMOTQ is an annual “orgy of interclass kissing” that has been around since the late 19th century, as legend has it.
However, in an email to ASSU Executives Hill and John-Lancaster Finley ’16 Boardman noted that this tradition has also resulted in concerns about alcohol over-consumption and sexual assault.
“Given recent conversations about sexual violence, the University has reaffirmed commitment to a culture rooted in mutual respect among all members,” Hill read from Boardman’s email. “Faculty and staff have gotten increasingly concerned that Full Moon on the Quad is not aligned with our concerns.”
“The event has become a highly sexualized experience that has alienated as much as it has welcomed,” Hill continued. “[The administration] has heard from participants who have felt apprehensive, unwelcome and even unsafe. Students feel pressured into certain kinds of behavior and to overcome anxiety, drink to excess. This regularly results in incidents of non-consensual behavior.”
According to Hill, he and Finley disagree on the administration’s decision, which they themselves first heard about on Monday.
While Finley does not fully support Full Moon on the Quad in its present form, Hill objected to the move to “destroy” a tradition.
“I know that FMOTQ is a longstanding tradition, and I am not for cutting ritual and tradition without kind of thinking about what else we can do,” Hill said.
Upon hearing the news for the first time, the Senate debated the decision heatedly during the open forum.
“It sounds paternalistic, and the next thing we’ll do is ban all parties on campus,” Eric Wilson ’16 said.
“I feel like they’ve tried to do this before in the 2000s and the 1990s, and [FMOTQ] happened anyway; it just happened under the table, without the monitoring of the administration, which makes these concerns even worse,” Hattie Gawande ’18 commented.
Justice Tention ’18, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, contested the move as the latest in a series of financial pressures placed on the ASSU Senate.
“I want to add some more color to the conversation,” Tention said. “We, as you guys know, largely financially support FMOTQ every year. So the administration is saying they will no longer support them, meaning they’re not banning the event. They’re implying that if it continues, [the money] has to come from ASSU. That disappoints me.”
“This year, they’ve pushed Club Sports onto the undergraduate student body, when it shouldn’t be,” Tention added. “Frankly, it put us into an extremely tight financial situation, and I am very disheartened to see admin push financially on ASSU. It’s removing financial support and yet expecting the student body to continue to have such a thriving and vibrant community.”
The Senate also took issue with the expectation that they would be the bringer of bad news to the student body.
“I think that it’s wrong that students have to hear this from us,” Senate chair Sina Javidan-Nejad ’16 said. “And if Greg Boardman doesn’t put this up by a certain time, so that if students want they can at least put up a petition, we have to make the email [from Boardman] known.”
Javidan-Nejad was referring to the March 9 deadline to put FMOTQ on the ballot prior to the upcoming elections. The Senate noted that they were left with two options according to the by-laws: either write a bill before the end of the meeting and conduct two online meetings to vote on the bill before March 9 or encourage a student body petition that would have to garner over five percent support from students.
Ilya Mouzykantskii ’16, editor of The Fountain Hopper, spoke as a member of the student body.
“As a non-ASSU person, I strongly encourage you to not just take this lying down,” Mouzykantskii said. “You’ve been informed a week and a day before the petition deadline closes. This is not a way to hear about the end of a Stanford tradition.”
“You’re being told what Stanford culture is by the Stanford administration, when you have the unique opportunity to ask Stanford students,” he added. “ASSU has very extensive liability insurance, so sponsoring the event shouldn’t be an issue.”
At that point in the meeting, the Stanford Review had already posted an article in response to the announcement.
“I don’t appreciate the notion that we should rush decision as a Senate, as a legislative body, based on pressure from the media — the Fountain Hopper and the Review for instance — and we don’t take kindly to threats as a Senate,” Gabriel Knight ’17 said, alluding to Mouzykantskii’s comments and the Review article. “I don’t appreciate the notion that we’re being rushed on due process as a Senate.”
“I don’t necessarily disagree [with Mouzykantskii],” Knight added. “That said, I think it’s more nuanced than what we make it out to be. There are probably reports of sexual assault, and in many ways, it’s inappropriate to subject that to popular vote, whether we want it to continue or not.”
“I agree that we shouldn’t take this lying down — I think we should respectfully demand resources for an alternative to happen,” Hill concluded.
The discussion closed with general agreement to make the news known to the student body and to spark debate on the matter instead of rushing into action as a Senate.
Public records request on Stanford Student Enterprises
As part of an investigation into Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) staffing, Mouzykanstkii presented a request for public records to the ASSU Executive.
Explaining his request, Mouzykantskii alluded vaguely to concerns about SSE employees’ financial records and management.
“I wrote a letter requesting for documents under the ASSU constitution pertaining to the employment of CEO Fred Groce and a few employees of SSE,” Mouzykantskii said. “Last year, Groce’s salary, including his payroll, was over $147,000. That’s a lot of money, to the Senate and to student government. It’s really important for these to be placed in competent hands.”
He requested that Hill describe a SSE advisory meeting earlier that day that the ASSU Executives and the Senate Chair had been invited to.
However, the Senate was not ready to comment.
“There was a CEO advisory meeting earlier this afternoon that I was unable to make,” Hill said. “Just like everybody else, I just saw the letter, and I think what was presented is very complex, with a number of issues contained within.”
“We’re not commenting on this issue now because it’s pending review,” said Luka Fatuesi ’17, summarizing the Senate’s stance.
Previous bills and funding requests
In addition, the Senate discussed bills to place the Campus Climate survey on the ballot next quarter, as well as to define procedures for student groups to reallocate their budgets.
Finally, the Senate approved funding requests for Cardinal Free Clinics and HD Crew dance costumes and declined to recommend the International Undergraduate Community’s request for an increase in funding in the coming year.
Contact Fangzhou Liu at fzliu96 ‘at’ stanford.edu.