Widgets Magazine


No Free Lunch: Something that Actually Needs Saving

At this point, we’re as tired of the ASSU election process as anyone, but with the results in, we thought it important to point out an unfortunate result due to a ridiculous technicality. Thanks to exactly 90 grad students, FLiCKS lost it’s special fees for the coming year.

According to the ASSU Constitution, groups that serve the entire student population — i.e. FLiCKS — can elect to apply for special fees from the entire student population: undergraduate, graduate and co-term. If this is the case, they must be approved by a minimum of 15 percent of the student population as a whole. There is a little-known additional requirement too: they must gain the majority of each individual student population. And even though a group applies for a certain amount of funds from each population, if they don’t get a majority in either election, they don’t get any money at all.

This means that if 100 grad students vote in the ASSU general election, 51 of them, or in the case of FLiCKS, 90 of them can override the entire undergraduate student body, dictating not only their own funds, but ours (i.e. the undergraduates) as well. FLiCKS received more undergraduate yes votes — 2310 — and was approved by a higher percentage of the undergraduate student population — 33.68 percent — than all but eight other organizations seeking exclusively undergraduate fees. Just for a quick point of reference, there were 46 groups seeking exclusively undergraduate special fees and all but two — The Chappy and The Claw — received approval. So it is obvious that we as an undergraduate student body want FLiCKS to remain a part of the Stanford experience and want it funded. It is one of those distinctively Stanford experiences, something that is talked about on tours and during Admit Weekend.

So there are a couple takeaways from this. The first is that there are 90 graduate students who are miserly troglodytes who aren’t willing to pay eight bucks a year for weekly free movies. Moving on.

More actionable is the ridiculous policy that one population can dictate the other’s funding decision. FLiCKS made the decision, justifiably, that because they are used by both student populations that they should receive funding from both. So grad students disagree. Why does that mean anything for undergraduate special fees? Is there any reason for that at all? It simply seems absurd. This loophole is one that should immediately and completely plugged for the next cycle. But how could FLiCKS be saved for the next year?

The simple answer is that within the existing structure of the ASSU, it probably can’t be. But that shouldn’t actually be a problem. The ASSU constitution is not divinely inspired. We don’t have to stand by the consequences of a decision that 90 grad students were allowed to make because of rules designed by previous Stanford students — we need to recognize that the student government is there to serve us, and when it fails to achieve that goal, it is the government that should give, not our wellbeing. Yes, very 8th-grade civics class, we know, but true nonetheless. If the new student government wants to really do something productive (after, or course, they save the environment, cure cancer and eliminate racism) they should get FLiCKS the undergraduate student funding that we determined they should receive. Do it by referendum if you must, but it should definitely be done. And whenever special fees reform inevitably comes up for the next ASSU senate, keep this from happening again.


If you like theater-quality movies, once a week for $8 a year, contact Dave and Zack at Daveg4@stanford.edu and zhoberg@stanford.edu.