21st Senate passes first bill on committee reform

May 22, 2019, 12:02 a.m.

On Tuesday, the 21st Undergraduate Senate experienced a change of scenery for its fourth meeting. With Nitery 209 locked and no sign of a key, the senators, Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Executives and other attendees were forced to meet in the ASSU conference room in Old Union in lieu of their usual space.

It was in this new space that the 21st Undergraduate Senate passed its first bill to reform Senate’s standing committees’ bylaws. Senators also discussed a new bill introduced by Senator Jonathan Lipman21 which would request that the Hoover Institution be included in the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in a Learning Community (IDEAL) dashboard, a database of demographic data at Stanford compiled by the University. Senator Martin Altenburg ’21 also introduced a new bill that would formalize the joint committee formation process.

Bylaws bill

After the routine Senate updates, discussion turned to the bill that’s been on the Senate’s agenda since its second meeting: the bill to reform the standing committees’  bylaws. After further discussion on some of the updates to the bill — including the requirement for each senator to be a member of at least one committee — the bill was passed unanimously.

There was some debate about one of the bill’s additions which would have required all senators to hold at least an hour of office hours per week. Senator Kobe Hopkins ’22 took issue with this, reminding senators that members of the Appropriations Committee are already required to hold weekly office hours. An additional hour, he contended, would be too great a commitment.

Ultimately, the senators agreed that the office hours requirement would be removed from the current version of the bill and included in a new bill to be drafted and discussed next quarter.

IDEAL resolution

Lipman’s legislation — introduced as a bill and redefined as a resolution during the meeting — moved the discussion beyond the four walls of the Old Union conference room across campus to Hoover.

The resolution would request that the Hoover Institution participate in the University’s IDEAL survey. Lipman read aloud an email correspondence he’d had with a representative from Hoover about the think tank’s lack of inclusion in IDEAL. The representative, who Lipman did not identify, pointed out that some members of the Institution are included in the category “Other Administrative Unit,” but that category has yet to be clarified or further organized.

In proposing the now-resolution, Lipman noted that he did not wish to criticize Hoover, but rather, “just [wanted] to ask for Hoover to be added to IDEAL dashboard.” The dashboard includes every other major on-campus group including undeclared undergraduates. Lipman also noted that Stanford is already taking steps to implement this request. The resolution will be voted on at the next Senate meeting.

Altenburg then introduced a new bill at this week’s meeting. His bill broached the ASSU committee issue and, if passed, it would allow the formation of joint ASSU committees, would require special committees to have an official project charter to be published online, and would allow collaboration between Undergraduate Senators and Graduate Student Council members on such committees. The bill was discussed briefly and will be voted on at next week’s meeting, which will also be the final meeting of the quarter.

Notably, fewer than half of all the senators have attended all four meetings this quarter. One senator hasn’t attended any meetings and another has only attended one. Four unexcused absences automatically invokes termination of tenure proceedings and one senator is already halfway there.  

This article has been corrected to reflect that the 21st Undergraduate Senate met on Tuesday, not the 22nd. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Zora Ilunga-Reed at zora814 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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.

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