Senate rejects D’Souza funding request over alcohol costs

Nov. 28, 2018, 2:25 a.m.

On Tuesday, in its final meeting of fall quarter, the 20th Undergraduate Senate voted on 97 Standard Grant applications submitted by 95 student groups. Among the applications was one submitted by the Stanford College Republicans (SCR) for $6,000 to fund a visit to campus by controversial right-wing author Dinesh D’Souza.

The SCR application was rejected on the grounds that some of the funding was designated for purchasing alcohol. Members of SCR dispute that reasoning.

Additionally, the Senate passed a measure to appoint ex-officio Senator Tim Vrakas ’21 as Senator Michal Skreta’s ’21 proxy during Skreta’s upcoming study abroad trip, as well as a joint resolution in support of transgender and gender non-conforming students’ rights.

Laura Wilson, Chief of Police at the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS), and Pete Posada, a public safety patrol officer, presented to the Senate about SUDPS’s role in law enforcement on campus as well as what they see as its insufficient implicit bias training.


SCR’s funding request

During discussion of the standard grant proposals, rather than vote on the package of 97 grants as a whole — as is standard practice — Appropriations Committee Chair Gabe Rosen ’19 flagged SCR’s Standard Grant request with new information regarding a component of the funding request that appeared to be earmarked for the purchase of alcohol.

Voting on the other 96 proceeded as planned, according to the recommendations of the Appropriations Committee. Of the 97 Standard Grant applications, 31 applications were completely approved. 22 applications, including SCR’s, received no funding at all.

“Look, as [Appropriations] Chair, I will be the first one to point out when the Committee has accidentally made a bit of an oversight,” Rosen said of the funding request for the D’Souza event. “We were originally intending on providing some funding for the event, but it came to our attention that in the documentation that was submitted to us by the Financial Officer of [SCR], there was a total of … $1,400 for alcohol.”

A 16 percent service charge of $224 was added to the $1,400 charge for alcohol, bringing the total amount of requested alcohol-related funding to $1,624.

The Senate is unable to provide student groups with funds if they are explicitly targeted towards alcohol because of the potential for illegal underage drinking, Rosen told The Daily.

After the meeting, Rosen commented that the Appropriations Committee missed the alcohol request earlier because it had “skimmed” one of the two invoices sent by SCR. Rosen added that the alcohol request was not submitted through the GrantEd student group funding management system but rather attached in an email sent directly to the Senate.

Before discovering that SCR’s request included an invoice for alcohol, the Appropriations Committee had recommended that $16.50 of SCR’s $6,000 request be granted for travel expenses.

In a statement provided to The Daily, SCR treasurer Ben Esposito ’21 disputed the Senate’s rationale for rejecting the funding request. Esposito wrote that funding for alcohol had not been specifically requested by SCR but was rather included as part of the standard draft cost estimate for Paul Brest Hall provided by Munger Catering and Events.

According to Esposito, he had “cleared” the funding request in a meeting with Katie Hufker ’18 M.S. ’19, a current Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) peer advisor and former member of the 19th Undergraduate Senate.

“The ASSU is making up excuses to hide the real reason they are suppressing speech: They want to make it impossible for conservative ideas to be publicly expressed at Stanford,” Esposito wrote.

Rosen expressed doubt that SAL would have cleared such a funding request, given that the Senate has a standing policy against funding undergraduate events that will include alcohol.

Hufker did not confirm whether or not she had met with Esposito, instead emphasizing that SAL lacks authority over funding requests submitted to the ASSU.

The Daily has reached out to Munger Catering and Events for comment.


Ex-officio Senator as proxy

The Senate also passed a bill that appoints ex-officio Senator Vrakas as Skreta’s proxy while the latter studies abroad.

“We have already worked with [Vrakas] on my seventh [ASSU] project as well as some of the printing issues,” Skreta said. “I’m looking forward to this wonderful period of cooperation,”

The bill passed with a vote of four in favor and seven abstaining.

“For me it’s more about the process of you being questioned by the public and having them decide, which is not a precedent that has been set,” said abstaining Senator Jon Johnson ’21. “But that’s why I’m on Senate — because it wouldn’t be fair of me to just say, ‘Yes, you can join the Senate.’”

“I will point out: I am the next [senator] on the ballot, in terms of the previous [election] result,” Vrakas said in response.

In the most recent ASSU election, Vrakas received the 15th most votes in a race for 15 Senate seats (after former Tree Sam Weyen ’18 was deemed ineligible due to his graduation year). However, because of a policy requiring a certain number of upperclassmen to be represented in the body, the 15th seat was given to Matt Wigler ’19 rather than Vrakas.

Vrakas received 117 more votes than Wigler and eight less than Rodolfo Salazar ’21, the Senator with the next most votes.


Transgender and gender non-conforming rights

The joint resolution in support of transgender and gender non-conforming student rights — tabled after its introduction in a past meeting — was passed on Tuesday with all but Senator Faa Diallo ’21 in favor. Diallo voted against the resolution.

The resolution, among other things, “call[ed] upon the University to act as a true ally and advocate on behalf of its marginalized communities through continuously affirming its support for students of all gender identities even when sacrifices might be necessary to do so.”

The bill was also passed by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) earlier last week after prolonged debate over the wording of some resolution clauses.


Implicit bias and law enforcement

Wilson and Posada presented to the Senate about SUDPS’s role in law enforcement on campus, the effect of implicit bias in SUDPS and its efforts to engage productively with the Stanford community.

Officers receive only 24 hours of implicit bias training every year, which, according to Wilson, is insufficient. However, she said, SUDPS is struggling to find better methods.

The doors are kind of being slammed these days,” Wilson said. “So I would actually like to know from you guys what we could do differently or better because we’re kind of scratching our heads.”

The presentation also included an in-depth description of SUDPS’s role with regards to various topics requested by the ASSU including: police response to self-harm, suicide, alcohol poisoning and drinking on campus; police community relations and engagement; and police training.


Contact Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ and Zora Ilunga-Reed at zora814 ‘at’

Zora Ilunga-Reed is a columnist and a junior studying Philosophy & Literature. A native New Yorker, she was a Copy Editor, Desk Editor and Staff Writer in volumes past. Read her column if you want to hear her thoughts on the woes of humanities students, tech culture and more.Erin Woo '21 is The Daily's Vol. 259 Editor-in-Chief. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, she is studying communications and creative writing at Stanford. She has also reported for The Mercury News and WNYC. Contact her at eic 'at'

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