If we abolished the ASSU today, what would we miss? (“Nothing.”)
The most obvious, possibly the only, function that we’d actually miss would be its funding of student projects.
How could we do so more efficiently, with less annoyance? Here’s an idea.
Set a fixed overall budget for all student group funding equal to the amount the ASSU spent on all student groups in 10-11, to be taxed equally to all students. Each year, have an election of the entire student body to decide whether the overall budget should be increased by 5%, decreased by 5%, or maintained at the previous year’s level.
Require each student group that wants funding out of this overall budget to submit a proposal by September 1. Convene a jury of 21 randomly selected Stanford students to vote yes or no on each proposal in a single meeting, by a simple majority. (This, of course, will give student groups the incentive to make only moderate and well-justified requests, since they get no second chance.) Do not permit student groups to lobby the jury through anything except the written proposal (with a strict page limit). Keep the identities of the members of the jury secret. Pay each member of the jury $100 per day of actual work for their service.
Should the jury approve less than the total student groups budget, return the surplus to the students pro rata. Should it approve more than the total budget, require them to reconsider yes votes until they’re in the black. Require the jury to complete its business within one week from the proposal deadline; automatically deny any budget requests not approved within that week. Have one paid staff member to do the accounting and enforce the rules (with appeal to the university).
And, finally, abolish “special fees” — nothing any Stanford student group does is important enough that the student body should need to override a random sample of its members. We trust random juries of ordinary citizens enough to determine whether accused criminals live or die. We should trust the vastly more competent pool of Stanford students to achieve the vastly less important task of funding student groups.
Voila. A fair and efficient way to replace the ASSU’s main (only?) function.