Senate pledges $30k for on-campus event featuring Chanel Miller

Nov. 20, 2019, 12:51 a.m.

The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Undergraduate Senate unanimously approved a bill on Tuesday night to fund $30,000 towards an on-campus event in winter quarter featuring Chanel Miller, who came forward publicly in September as the woman who was assaulted in 2015 by former swimmer and convicted felon Brock Turner.

The bill, authored by former ASSU President Shanta Katipamula ’19 M.S. ’20, also has the support of current ASSU President Erica Scott ’20 and Vice President Isaiah Drummond ’20. The ASSU Executives are already in the process of organizing the event with the help of co-sponsor Stanford Speakers Bureau. 

The event is set to function as a solely student-attended and student-funded event, without backing from administration, according to Katipamula. 

“We are trying to do this with the least University involvement as possible,” Katipamula said.

The $30,000 will come from the Senate’s Programming Board Reserve, which currently holds $1.8 million for undergraduate programs. The reserve is an accumulation of program funds that were unspent throughout the years. The ASSU Executives expect that the Graduate Student Council will contribute another $10,000.

According to Katipamula, $20,000 of the funds is allotted for payment to Miller and her team. Security for the event will account for another chunk of the funds, though the exact cost has yet to be determined. This funding request would not place a dent in the already substantial reserves in the Programming Board Reserve, Katipamula said, and if this event was to not occur for any reason the money would immediately be returned to the reserve. 

The Undergraduate Senate decided, due to a request from Katipamula, to suspend the rules of order and approve the bill immediately, as opposed to waiting at least one week. According to Katipamula, the bill would need 85% of the funds to be already in the executives’ account to get approval from the Office of Student Engagement. Katipamula cited the need to begin advertisement and start garnering student support for the event as a reason to vote on the bill immediately. 

Senator Tim Vrakas ’21 argued against the suspension of the rules of order, stating that it was important for ASSU senators to review and comment on a bill before it is passed. 

“I don’t take any issue whatsoever with the proposed event, nor with the appropriation of general fees reserves to fund the event,” Vrakas said. “My concern was over a lack of prior notice. For an event that doesn’t even have a concrete date, forcing the vote could be mistakenly construed as an attempt to prevent public feedback.”

However, the decision to approve the bill immediately was supported by the rest of the senators, with most citing the need for advertising to begin soon and the small monetary cost this would be relative to overall Senate funding. 

“It will not put a dent in the reserves, there is no reason why we should not use this money and do this as soon as possible,” said Senator Veronica Ayala ’22. 

Both the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate Student Council have been vocal in their support for Miller, both bodies unanimously passing resolutions defending her right to choose the quote that will be placed on the plaque in the contemplative garden at the site of her assault. The University recently decided to walk back its original decision and will seek to install a plaque with Miller’s quote, along with an additional site marker describing the purpose of the garden and the plaque. 

According to Katipamula, this action centralizes ASSU as an overarching organization across different groups on campus. 

“It makes a lot of sense for the ASSU to act as the overarching coordinator [of the event] as the ASSU has done a lot of work on sexual assault prevention on campus,” Katipamula said. 

This article was updated to show that the outcome of the vote was unanimous. This article was also corrected to reflect that the bill was introduced by former ASSU President Shanta Katipamula, not current ASSU President Erica Scott.

Contact Emilia Diaz-Magaloni at emilia2 ‘at’

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