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Senate discusses increasing term length

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At its Tuesday meeting, the Undergraduate Senate discussed a bill that would increase the length of time senators serve from one year to two years. The measure would also structure the Senate such that only half the senators would be up for reelection each year, aiming to smooth the transitions between Senates by ensuring that that the Senate will always have members who have served for at least a year.

The bill, proposed by Senator Tim Vrakas ’21 and sponsored by former three-term senator Gabe Rosen ’19, aims to “re-establish the Senate as a continuous body” to fix long-standing problems with retention.

“The amendment was drafted to address the lack of experience and institutional knowledge in the Senate,” Vrakas said. “The hope is that by staggering elections, the Senate is never left without some amount of experience.”

In response to the bill, Senator Sarah Saboorian ’22 raised concerns that freshmen, who make up the majority of candidates running for the Undergraduate Senate, might not be able to commit to the body for two years. She mentioned that many juniors choose to study abroad or become residential staff, which would limit their capacity to dedicate time to the Senate.

“Those are both really, really big components of the junior year experience,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to disincentivize rising sophomores to run.” 

Vrakas responded by stating that by serving two-year terms, senators don’t lose out on as much of their tenure on the Senate.

“Going abroad during the two-year term, you’re losing one in six quarters whereas currently you’re losing one in three quarters,” he said.

The Senate voted to table discussion on the bill.

The Senate also voted to endorse the ASSU Sexual Violence Report, and tabled resolutions to form permanent community centers for the first generation and/or low income (FLI) and disability communities and urge Stanford to provide free Bay Area transit for students.

Contact Michael Espinosa at mesp2021 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Michael Espinosa '21 is majoring in international relations. He's the head of The Daily's social media team and also writes for the University beat. He's the biggest Taylor Swift fan at Stanford and the proudest New Yorker will ever meet. Contact him at mesp2021 'at' stanford.edu.