Ateeq Suria, the chair of Stanford Student Enterprises’ (SSE) board and interim CEO, has been accused of serial mismanagement, an attempted power grab, and the marginalization of SSE employees by several past and present representatives of the group. Former Senators and other university administrators have reported concerns that Suria is now using his influence to seek the unconstitutional reappointment of Zubair Ahmed to the CEO position at SSE, after the Senate rejected Ahmed last week.
Suria, a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, was initially brought on board at SSE as a student interested in developing the organization. However, this student position has made it almost impossible for the university to depose him, since they fear the consequences of the administration removing a student representative. That said, a number of SSE affiliates have been willing to come forward to the Stanford Review – anonymously, since Suria holds the power to fire or discipline them – to make his abuses of power known.
Informants have expressed concern that Suria has limited experience, and thus is unable to fully manage the liabilities of a group that manages a seven-figure financial sum. It appears that Suria bears the brunt of the responsibility for the SSE scandal that led to the resignation of ex-CEO Frederik Groce. Specifically, while the Fountain Hopper previously claimed that Groce failed to report the hiring of his girlfriend and work for other companies, documents reveal that Groce legally acknowledged his conflicts of interest months before the FoHo’s article, in an official statement recognizing the relationship that he signed previous to the employment of Jasmine Mason. SSE representatives claim that Suria repeatedly neglected to bring up these conflicts with the board – despite the fact that Groce and Suria met weekly at great length. Suria also failed to disclose that Zubair Ahmed was living with him at the time that Ahmed was being vetted for CEO, or the extent of their relationship through Tau Beta Phi.
Additionally, Suria has potentially exposed SSE to substantial legal liability by improperly advertising employment offers. In particular, it is alleged that he informally offered Zubair Ahmed the CEO position months ago, which would explain why the title has been on Ahmed’s LinkedIn profile since March. However, this offer leaves SSE open to being sued, since Suria had no authority to offer Ahmed the job unilaterally.
Suria also faces accusations of a concerted attempt to consolidate power. As chair of the board, he has been accused of micromanagement within SSE, with employees expressing dissatisfaction for their ability to work efficiently without constant disturbance from above. Suria also used his position to appoint himself interim CEO of SSE – a move that quite possibly violates the ASSU constitution. As CEO and chair, Suria currently holds the technical power to liquidate all of SSE’s assets on his own.
Finally, there is widespread concern that Suria is seeking to ensure that Ahmed is appointed as SSE CEO, despite his having been soundly rejected by the Senate. During the nomination process, Suria ignored opposition from within SSE – including a mass letter – to nominate Ahmed as the board’s candidate. He also reportedly refused to allow ASSU Executives John-Lancaster Finley and Brandon Hill to leave the negotiation room at the end of Winter Quarter until they relented and allowed Ahmed to be the nominee.
While the Senate unanimously voted against Ahmed’s candidacy, many within the ASSU have expressed concern that Suria is trying to force a revote. Such a vote would be constitutionally complex since the 17th Undergraduate Senate has been dissolved, and a new Senate sworn in, since the vote was held. Some Senators fear that the resultant Constitutional Council case would be impossible to resolve, since more than half of the Council’s seats remain empty after a year of vacancy.
The SSE board meets tomorrow afternoon, though Suria has reportedly chosen not to invite representatives from this year’s Undergraduate or Graduate Senate. The Review encourages all SSE board members – many of whom see themselves as advisory, and often do not show to meetings – and, indeed, Stanford’s elected representatives to consider the consequences of granting a 23-year-old student with a track record of corruption and power-mongering near-complete control of an $18 million fund.
We will update this article if further information arrives.