The Undergraduate Senate again refused to approve the Stanford College Republicans’ (SCR) request for funding to bring Mike Pence to campus in a meeting on Tuesday.
The purpose of the meeting was to revisit standard grants, including SCRs, following concerns raised about the initial vote that was held in a private Slack channel, a potential violation of Senate regulations. Senators unanimously approved all other funding requests.
“We recognize that there was some unconstitutionality behind voting on a private Slack channel even though our votes were to be made public within a week,” said Senate co-chair Alain Perez ’23.
Echoing Perez, Co-Chair Emily Nichols ’23 said redoing the votes “will ensure that we maintain full transparency and that the votes are public”.
Five Senators voted in favor of SCR’s request for $ 6,000 in funding to bring former Vice President Mike Pence to campus during the winter term. Eight senators abstained and no one voted against the funding which the senators said lacked majority approval.
The vote marks a slight drop in approvals and a sharp increase in abstentions in last week’s Slack vote, in which seven senators voted for, seven against and one abstained.
“I personally voted to abstain from the fundraising request because I don’t want this blood on my hands,” Perez said, referring to last week’s vote. “I think there are personal and core values for me as a person who got me elected to the Senate that are strictly at odds with voting for this funding.”
Perez abstained again on Tuesday.
In addition to general concerns about SCR and Mike Pence, senators raised concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and the potential for the event to draw large crowds from outside the county and state. In SCR’s funding request, the group predicted that the event could attract 1,000 participants. Several senators were also reluctant to speak candidly about their concerns about the event for fear of doxxing. SCR has publicly attacked and doxxed Stanford affiliates, including undergraduate senators.
Although senators have said that the five votes in favor and eight abstentions constitute a majority, it is not clear whether this is a correct interpretation of the statutes of the Senate.
Standard grants require a majority vote to pass, according to Senate regulations: “All votes by the [Undergraduate Senate], or one of its standing committees, shall be by a majority of the members present and voting. The Undergraduate Senate Rules of Procedure, Related to Student Associates at Stanford University [ASSU] constituting documents, stipulates that abstentions do not count towards the counting of votes. Interpreted in this way, the funding received majority approval from members present and voting, as senators who abstained did not vote.
However, in response to a question from The Daily in a public student government channel Slack, Perez wrote that despite no senators voting against funding for the CRA, this week’s vote did not reach the majority threshold. Perez referred to “parliamentary procedure” in the same channel, citing a blog post on Civility.co as to why abstentions counted as a vote.
Senator Amira Dehmani ’24 added that “if you wanted to count five votes [in favor of the funding] like the only ones that mattered, that did not constitute a quorum, ”and the vote would always fail.
At the meeting, community members also expressed concern that SCR was not properly notified of the vote. A representative of the SCR was not present at the meeting.
Senators said they gave sufficient notice to community members via a public Senate Slack channel, # ugs-public, on Student Government Slack. At the meeting, senators said SCR members were not personally briefed on Tuesday’s meeting and that it was not standard Senate practice to personally invite other groups seeking funding.
The meeting “was made public in the UGS public chat, which anyone can join,” Nichols said.
At the time of publication, the public channel had 40 members, the majority of whom are affiliated with ASSU. Six other members are Daily News staff.
“None of us contacted SCR,” added Perez. “If they wanted to know [the Tuesday meeting], they could be on ASSU Slack.