Senate declines to fund Stanford College Republicans’ Mike Pence event

Dec. 2, 2021, 10:58 p.m.

The Undergraduate Senate did not approve Stanford College Republicans’ (SCR) Standard Grant request for a speaker event with former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during winter quarter. 

SCR’s request for $6,000 through a Standard Grant application to the Undergraduate Senate did not receive a simple majority in a closed session vote over Slack on Monday. All other Standard Grant requests were approved.

“Senators weighed student safety, freedom of speech and COVID-19 protocols” when voting on SCR’s request for funding, a senator who requested to remain anonymous due to fears of doxxing wrote in a statement to The Daily. SCR has previously publicly attacked and doxxed Stanford affiliates, including undergraduate senators.

SCR spokesperson and former president Stephen Sills ’22 wrote in a statement that the group is “not surprised in the slightest that the far-left radical [Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU)] Undergraduate Senate has categorically rejected our request for funding.”

Sills wrote that SCR remains committed to hosting Pence in winter quarter and characterized any attempts to prevent Pence from speaking on campus as “completely futile.” 

He further raised concerns about the constitutionality of the vote. Sills wrote that the Senate “is constitutionally obligated” to approve their grant request. SCR will be exploring legal responses and intends to “actively expose the ASSU Senate and the broader Stanford administration for bias,” he wrote.

The Senate previously rejected a funding request from SCR in 2019 when they invited far-right author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza to speak on campus. After SCR filed a complaint with the ASSU Constitutional Council, the Senate revoked their vote and ultimately provided funds, citing concerns about the speed and process of the original vote.

SCR argued that the Senate’s initial decision not to provide funds for the D’Souza event was a violation of the ASSU Constitution, due to a clause that the ASSU cannot impede freedom of speech on campus. Since funding was ultimately provided, the Constitutional Council did not rule on the case. 

The ASSU Constitution, in Article V Section 8 on Standard Grants, states that the “Undergraduate Senate may, by majority vote, approve each Standard Grant. Grants that are not approved shall not be disbursed.” 

The anonymous senator wrote that the argument that the Senate’s vote constitutes a “violation of freedom of speech, which the club [SCR] has done before, may or may not apply in this case.” The Senate considered many factors, including safety of an event with more than a thousand people, potentially including people from outside of the campus community, they wrote.

Moreover, the scale of the event makes this request for funding different from other grant requests, according to the senator. “No other student group that has requested funding from us has petitioned for an event of this magnitude,” they wrote.

Following the Senate’s vote to not approve SCR’s funding request, University spokesperson Pat Lopes Harris wrote in a statement that the University “continues to work with the Stanford College Republicans on its event plans,” in accordance with the Office of Student Engagement’s event planning policies

University policies require that for special events with security, event organizers must demonstrate their ability to fund the event before extending an invitation to a speaker. At least 50% of funds must come from on-campus funding sources. As long as they are able to meet this requirement, SCR can proceed with the event without funding from the Undergraduate Senate.

“The ability to express a broad diversity of ideas and viewpoints is fundamental to the University’s mission of seeking truth through research and education,” Harris wrote.

Kaushikee Nayudu '24 is a staff writer for The Daily. Contact her at knayudu ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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