In their first meeting of the current school year, the 18th Undergraduate Senate announced an upcoming University report on Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ) and debated a resolution on a Santa Clara County public transportation measure.
Senators also gave routine reports on their personal projects and heard funding requests from the Stanford Gaming Society and the International Justice Mission at Stanford.
FMOTQ working group report slated for Thursday release
Senate Chair Shanta Katipamula ’19 and Senator Carson Smith ’19 announced that the working group report on FMOTQ would be released on Thursday.
The working group was formed after student outcry at news that the Office for Student Affairs was considering whether to defund FMOTQ. In March, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman had written a letter to the student body president and vice-president that cast doubt over the administration’s future support for the event.
Both the Senate and the student body protested at the move itself as well as the perceived lack of student input, with a student referendum showing 88.55 percent support for continued University sponsorship for FMOTQ. In response, the University convened a working group consisting of student, faculty and staff representatives to discuss the future of FMOTQ.
Smith, as the Senate representative on the working group, expressed her satisfaction with the process and the outcome.
“I’m extremely happy with the result and how we were able to bring people together from a variety of different areas on campus,” Smith said.
While she could not discuss the content of the report, she stressed that the students on the panel were included in the discussion.
Debating Measure B and the Senate’s role
Carl Guardino, who serves as President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, presented his organization’s proposal to improve transportation in Santa Clara County during the meeting. Guardino was seeking a Senate resolution in support of the so-called Measure B, which Santa Clara County voters will vote on in a Nov. 8 ballot.
Measures included extending the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system to better serve lower-income communities such as East San Jose, as well as building level boarding platforms at Caltrain stations for passengers with physical disabilities.
While Senators largely agreed that the measure was a step forward for the county, they worried that supporting an external political cause might violate the ASSU constitution.
Senator Junwon Park ’19 commented, “I personally appreciate and wholeheartedly support the measures to increase the safety of drivers here and in the community around us.”
However, Park went on to question whether the measure could be said to “directly [affect] Stanford students,” a condition stipulated in Article I, Section 5B of the ASSU constitution.
Senators TG Sido ’18 and Khaled Aounallah ’19 raised students, faculty and staff members who commute to campus as examples to show that the student body — and by extension, the Senate — should indeed be concerned with the issue.
Meanwhile, Senator Hattie Gawande ’18 argued that the debate on constitutionality was skirting the core issue of the Senate’s role as the representative of the student body.
“I think that a lot of the squeamishness about the measure is less about any special affection we have for the constitution,” Gawande said. “[It’s] more of us using the constitution to justify the fact that we’re uncomfortable with this is new role we’re taking on… to encourage the student body to be involved in electoral politics.”
“But if we as a Senate got into the role of encouraging students to do the right thing, it seems like a good role to me,” she concluded to applause from fellow Senators.
The Senate agreed to reopen their conversation on the measure at their next meeting.
Contact Fangzhou Liu at fzliu96 ‘at’ stanford.edu.