Latest Senate meeting examines individual projects, funding for partisan events

May 4, 2016, 12:09 a.m.

The third meeting of the 18th Undergraduate Senate featured bills to amend the bylaws for Senate proxy and secretary nominations, as well as individual Senators’ reports.

Individual projects: from resources for undocumented students to Senate transparency

Senators who had yet to present their individual projects to the Senate outlined their plans briefly. The full list of proposals ranges from familiar issues such as sexual assault prevention and Senate transparency, to providing public information for undocumented students at Stanford.

Senate Chair Shanta Katipamula ’19 and returning Senator Matthew Cohen ’18 are both tackling campus sexual misconduct. Katipamula has proposed an online sexual harassment reporting system, while Cohen is continuing his previous work on disclosing the results of the controversial campus climate survey.

Cohen explained, “[Getting the administration to disclose more specific statistics] takes care of the problem where there are different definitions of what sexual assault and misconduct look like. You can just look at the individual responses to certain questions and say if the number should be tallied differently.”

Senators Jayaram Ravi ’19 and Alpha Hernandez ’19 are focusing on campus mental health. Hernandez is interested in reaching out to upperclassmen on mental health issues they may face, while Ravi has set up a meeting with the director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to discuss potential collaboration.

Other Senators chose to work on subsidizing low-income students for fee-paying classes and spring break meals, and providing more public information for undocumented students.

The new bi-weekly project reports were mandated during the previous Senate’s term as part of a bill to boost Senate accountability. According to Katipamula, full list of projects will soon be posted on the public Senate website.

Speaking to all Senators, Senator Hattie Gawande ’18 suggested, “I’m seeing a lot of ideas that are good first steps, like reaching out to individuals or a Faculty Senate committee … but maybe giving us an end-goal for these steps would be best so the rest of the Senators can follow up on that.”

Stricter funding guidelines for partisan activity

Appropriations Chair Cenobio Hernandez ’18 announced that the committee had decided to follow stricter policy on funding partisan events in light of legal concerns.

Hernandez said, “We’ve made a tentative decision to fund only meeting food for events that may be partisan.”

Last week, the Stanford College Republicans’ request for travel subsidies roused concerns that the ASSU would violate its non-profit status by funding partisan activity. After consulting legal advisors, the Senate voted unanimously against the funding bill since it violated federal tax codes on non-profits.

Finally, the Senate heard two bills to amend the bylaws on secretary and Senate proxy nominations. Previous ASSU Executive Cabinet member Joshua Seawell ’18 also stopped in on the meeting to pitch a proposed Greek life dues subsidy for low-income students and said a more detailed proposal would be available next week.


Contact Fangzhou Liu at fzliu96 ‘at’

Fangzhou Liu ’19 was Vol. 253 Executive Editor; before that, she co-led the news section. She grew up in Singapore and studies computer science and linguistics.

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