In a rare show of unanimity, the ASSU Senate tonight rejected the nomination of Zubair Ahmed as SSE’s proposed new CEO, in the wake of multiple conflicts of interest surrounding his candidacy.
ASSU President John-Lancaster Finley, a member of the committee responsible for Ahmed’s nomination, declared the “incompetence of the 17th ASSU Senate […] astounding, gravely disappointing, and truly historic” in an emotional email to Stanford’s outgoing student Senators sent after the vote. “Never once have I felt so utterly disrespected that I was compelled to leave the room,” he added.
Finley commented in an email to the Review that “it puts the cherry on top of the incompetence they’ve showed all year – including changing the rules to allow Senators to just up and leave whenever they feel like it.“
Ahmed, a 2011 Stanford graduate, was proposed to replace Frederik Groce, who resigned his position as CEO of SSE after the Fountain Hopperrevealed that he hired his girlfriend at a cost of $70,000 a year, and engaged in unauthorized part-time startup work.
The Stanford Daily, the Review, and tips from SSE employees and Senators have since confirmed that:
- Ahmed had an undeclared relationship with the chair of SSE’s board: both are Tau Beta Pi officers and were contemporary Mechanical Engineering graduates.
- Ahmed has reportedly lived with the interim CEO of SSE for the past two months.
- When questioned by the Senate, he offered no specifics on how he would manage Stanford students’ money, only promising to improve personal relationships within the organization.
- His history at three startups comprised two that failed – reportedly as a result of continual disputes with co-founders – and one that never saw him managing a single paid employee.
- He has presumptively listed himself as the CEO of SSE on LinkedIn since March.
SSE manages a portfolio that now totals over $18 million. The Senate determined that given the importance of SSE’s leadership, and the scandals of the past, it was important to find a candidate distinct from the controversy of Groce’s leadership, though President Finley expressed his discontent with this line of reasoning during and after the meeting.
In the aftermath of the vote, the Senate rushed through a bill to make Luka Fatuesi, currently SSE’s assistant financial manager, interim manager until a new nominee is selected. Undergraduate Senators had previously expressed concern that SSE was trying to rush them into a decision. This fear was underscored by the decision to make tonight’s nomination a closed-door event, open only to Senators and not to campus news.
President Finley commented that “the Senate had ample opportunity to contribute to this process over the past several months. None of them showed up to any interviews.” He called the decision “hugely disrespectful and dangerous.”
Frederik Groce has been contacted for comment, but has yet to respond.