The bill proposes solutions to the ASSU system of funding that are concrete and uncontroversial. Additionally, its passage will give us the chance to propose more dramatic changes to the funding system in the Spring Quarter without holding the student body hostage.
I strongly encourage every member of the Student Body to vote YES on the funding reform proposal that is being put forth on the December 4-5 special election. The proposal itself streamlines the budgeting process that has long plagued student life at Stanford and promises to make more money available to Student Groups. This is a good bill, it does the job intelligently without creating bureaucracy.
The current funding system is broken and is genuinely hurting our community. As a Senator, I have seen events turned down because of a lack of money while millions of dollars sit in closed accounts. Stanford’s rich extra-curricular life is at stake here. The funding process as it is could not be more irrational and unfair.
This election provides us with an opportunity to remedy the system. The proposal will unlock a lot of money that was formerly hidden in untouchable accounts such as the Buffer Fund and the General Fee Reserve. This money will now be put to use for events that students value like Diwali and Snowchella.
Moreover, students will not have to deal with the confusing General Fees and Special Fees entitlements. There will now be a simple system with three clearly defined grant types: Quick, Standard and Annual. The current system is essentially bifurcated between short-term small disbursements called General Fees and Annual budget allotments that comprise tens of thousands of dollars called Special Fees. The current dynamic makes it impossible for groups that develop unexpected costs to stay out of the red. With quick grants, student groups are no longer trapped by the rigid funding system.
Naturally the bill is not perfect and there are certain areas where it could take a stronger stand against the endorsement groups have a great amount of influence over the Senate. For example, I published an opinions piece earlier in the year describing how the Special Fees reserve was cheating students out of money on a yearly basis. In it I proposed that we ban Special Fees reserves all together. This idea came from the predecessor to this Funding Reform Proposal, SAFE Reform. While this bill does not eliminate Special Fees Reserves, it does whittle them down through taxes. What is more, the fact that we are having a special election this early in the year will mean that we can amend the funding system further in the regular spring quarter election with more controversial amendments – such as Special Fees reserve elimination—without holding hostage the more fundamental aspects of our funding system.
I can not stress this point enough. Any issues one many have with the current funding reform proposal can and will be addressed in the spring. What we are currently voting on is a solution to problems that everyone agrees need to be fixed.
This is an example of the Senate working well. I have sat shoulder to shoulder with the people who have poured their sweat into this project by speaking to student groups, hosting town halls and drafting compromises late into the night. Special recognition must go to Olivia and Justine Moore as well as the bill’s current author John Lancaster Finley. These three students are exemplary student leaders and they have crafted a well thought out solution to a persistent problem. It is crucial that the student body rally behind this example of good student governance and vote yes come midnight.