Undergraduate Senate votes to create librarian, tables term length discussions

Feb. 25, 2020, 10:23 p.m.

The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Undergraduate Senate focused on institutional knowledge at its meeting on Tuesday. The body voted to create a new position, “ASSU Librarian,” whose goal is to maintain institutional knowledge in the ASSU, and tabled a bill that would have increased the length of each senate term from one to two years.

According to the bill proposed by Jonathan Lipman ’21, the librarian’s role is “to create a paper trail” that preserves the history of the ASSU and student advocacy on campus.

“People frequently say that the administration tries to avoid making changes by waiting for students to graduate,” Lipman said. “Hopefully creating this position will help prevent that from happening and help tell the story of student activism in the ASSU over the years.”

Discussion on the bill focused on the meeting attendance requirements that the librarian would have to fulfill. According to the bill, while the librarian will not be a senator, they must “attend all meetings of the Constitutional Council and Joint Meetings of the Legislative bodies.” Lipman proposed that the librarian also attend all undergraduate senate and Graduate Student Council (GSC) meetings. 

The librarian, who will be compensated with a stipend determined by the ASSU financial manager, is tasked with maintaining the official copy of important ASSU governing documents such as the constitution and bylaws.

Senator Mià Bahr ’22 expressed concerns that the role of librarian might be too much for one person to handle.

“I’d rather we parse things out so that individuals do individual work rather than assigning it all to one person and hoping that we just get a competent person, because what I learned is most people are incompetent,” she said.

Bahr currently serves as the Senate parliamentarian. Lipman’s bill will create the librarian position to “replace the currently unused ASSU parliamentarian,” which is separate from Bahr’s role on the Undergraduate Senate.

Eventually, the Senate decided that both the Undergraduate Senate and GSC have “the power to request the attendance of The ASSU Librarian at any event or meeting of record,” as Lipman’s bill states.

The Senate also continued discussion about the bill introduced by Senator Tim Vrakas ’21 to increase the length of each senator’s term from one to two years. Senator Micheal Brown ’22 expressed concerns that these changes might give priority to incumbent senators who might not deserve the role.

“People make the most informed decisions about who will best represent them,” Brown said. “So I don’t think it’s fair for us to reserve seats for ourselves, not even individually ourselves, but for senators. Just because you’ve run before, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more qualified.”

Vrakas responded by saying that the bill was originally written when few senators decided to run for reelection. Currently, six senators have filed to run for re-election. Three current senators have also filed to run for ASSU executive.

“So maybe we’ve solved that problem in other ways, or maybe that problem is solving itself in other ways and so we don’t need to do this,” Vrakas said before the bill was tabled. “That’s definitely a possibility, and it’s probably less urgent than it originally was.” 

The senate also voted to suspend the rules of order to approve a new resolution standing in solidarity with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band in southern Santa Clara County and calling on the University to “urge the County of Santa Clara to deny the permits” for a proposed quarry on the tribe’s sacred land.  Additionally, the senate voted to grant an additional $5,000 toward this year’s installment of Blackfest.

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

Michael Espinosa '22 is majoring in international relations. He's the head of The Daily's social media team, and editor for the University beat and also occasionally writes for sports, arts, and The Grind. He's the biggest Taylor Swift fan at Stanford and the proudest New Yorker you will ever meet. Contact him at mespinosa 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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