Party With Fees: A Lighthearted Rant

Posted by at 3:22AM

Would you like $250 $140? Right now? Free and clear? How about every quarter? Yeah, so would I. However, unlike most random hypothetical questions, I can actually deliver on this one. $250 $140 of your tuition per quarter automatically goes to special fees. However, saying as you don’t ever actively consent to this distribution of funds to various student groups, the ASSU would be in something of a legal snafu if they didn’t give you the option of taking the money back at some point. So they do. For the first two weeks of every quarter, you have the option of waiving the money you paid for special fees. It’s really that simple. You can get a refund for $250 $140 worth of special fees every quarter. The solitary attached string? The leadership of groups that get special fees are allowed to request a list of students who waived their fees and may bar those students from using their services. But that’s seriously it. Now some food for thought: what could I buy with the $750 $420 a year that I currently spend on special fees? Here’s my short list:

 – A boatload of Philz coffee

Seven Four trips skydiving

– One of those giant stuffed trees from the bookstore

– A romantic weekend in Tahoe

– My weight in marshmallows

– *Part of* The mens water polo team

– Parking for my entire Stanford career ~two years

– A flight to somewhere very far away

30 17 cases of Two Buck Chuck

– Half an Ochem textbook

– An iPhone 17

3 2+ Dance Marathon pledges

– The worlds most hipster bike

Someone to slap me when I procrastinate (could definitely use one of those right about now…)


As the season of special fees madness approaches and descends upon our fair campus, I feel like this is a useful fact to keep in mind – one that every member of the student body should really know about. In the meantime, however, here are some other general ideas about how I feel the special-fees/signatures process could be greatly improved:


– Each person can sign up to 5 petitions. That’s it. No being a signature slut. Those who have signed their quota are allowed to wear a sign around their neck indicating so, discouraging signature scavengers.

– If you pester me in the library while I am studying for a midterm, I should be allowed to light your clipboard on fire.

– Similarly, if you enter a residence with the intention of going door-to-door for signatures (YES I AM TALKING TO YOU, MACGREGOR-DENNIS CAMPAIGN), I should be allowed to fire water balloons/my nerf gun at you until morale improves and/or you depart with severely broken confidence.

– All groups seeking special fees should be required to participate in some sort of Great Stanford Challenge. The first things that come to mind include having to consume all the specials at TAP then sprint the Dish, bike around the Circle of Death at 10 am with no hands, recover a book from the South Stacks, attend Synergy’s sacrificial ritual to the pagan god of kale, finish an entire case of wine at Kairos, pass a Physics 41 midterm, friend-zone someone at Sigma Nu, have a meaningful conversation with a Nobel Laureate over coffee, and watch the swim team win their 192nd consecutive national title. Those with the best performances will be awarded the special fees they rightly deserve.
… Actually, come to think of it, that’s just a normal day at Stanford. Let me think on it more and get back to you one that one.

– The power of bribery should really not be underestimated while petitioning for special fees. I am implementing a new personal policy that I will refuse to sign any special fees petition without a reasonable incentive. I’m really not that hard to please. Things I’ll accept: girl scout cookies, serenades, a lap dance from Channing Tatum, a backrub, a cute puppy, a genuine compliment, the Westboro Baptist Church getting struck by lightning several thousand times, a guy running around White Plaza in a giant pigeon suit, Ryan Reynolds’ cell phone number, a lifetime supply of boba – hell, I’ll even sign your piece of paper for a cheap pun. But if you come up to me while I’m thoroughly enjoying a “Name of Girl I’m Dating” at Ike’s (seriously, it is the highlight of my week)… I WILL CUT YOU. Just don’t get in the way of my dirty sauce, that’s really all I ask.

– Do not petition for special fees and then turn around and tell me that I have to pay to go see your event. I just won’t do it. If I previously wanted to see your performance, I don’t anymore, if only on principle. I have already given you money. I will not pay you more money simply so that your group can go on a retreat and get hammered for 36 straight hours. Don’t get me wrong, I know that not every entrance fee in cases like these are directly used for group inebriation purposes, however I’ve simply seen it done so many times that my faith in the whole idea has been completely killed. If you want to have a sweet progressive with your group, that’s fine with me, but do it on your own dime. If you think you need more money to do whatever it is you want to do, then petition for it, and if you’re really, extra good that year, I might devote one of my five signatures to you.


5 Responses to “Party With Fees: A Lighthearted Rant”

  1. Stephen says:

    Howdy –

    I’m the ASSU Assistant Financial Manager, and I eventually oversee most administrative tasks related to managing and distributing the ASSU student fees. I wanted to correct one thing and explain one thing.

    Correction: you cannot waive $250/quarter from your ASSU fee. Undergraduates pay $120/quarter ($420/year) in ASSU fees, and you can waive up to 100% of that. That said, of course, $420/year isn’t anything to sneeze at.

    Explanation: the statement that “[students] do not actively approve the distribution of Special Fees” is not really true in my interpretation. The entire Special Fees system is codified in the ASSU Constitution (which is under the control of students), and part of the Special Fees system involves the Special Fees getting voted on by all students. If you are passionately against Special Fees, change them! You have the power to move from contemplating action to actually making it happen – and I’m happy to help you.

    Stephen Trusheim ’13/’14
    (last name @

  2. Leigh says:

    Stephen –

    You’re absolutely right, my research for this post showed that $250 was the correct number, and, as it turns out, it was from an inaccurate source. I’ve updated the post to represent the true amount which, I agree with you, is still “nothing to sneeze at”. To be clear, I’m not against the distribution of special fees, or even the current system we use to vote for them. I simply believe that students should know that they are entitled to waive the fees that they are automatically charged as part of their tuition – regardless of whether or not they voted for the appropriation of special fees. What I do have a problem with, however, is when someone I don’t know comes up to me in the quiet room of Meyer while I’m trying to focus and expects me to sign their petition for a group I have never interacted with or utilized myself. Or when a group gets X dollars per student in special fees and then expects those same students to pay ~X dollars to attend their performance. This article was intended to be a mix of humorous observations and a source of relevant information about students’ right to waive special fees. Thank you for both your perspective and correction of my mistake.

    – Leigh

  3. Stephen says:

    Oops. I messed up too. It’s $140 a quarter. $420 / 3 = $140. Sorry for compounding errors here.

    Thanks for the article, and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions in the future! (Including you, dear readers of TUSB.)

  4. Crystal says:

    As someone who is part of a Special Fees groups, I would like to propose one thing: the ASSU should change the way students currently get signatures. Right now our only options are email or walking up to any unsuspecting person in a public (or in your case, maybe not so public) place and asking them to sign our petition. Believe me – the people walking around asking for signatures are as happy as you are about having to do it! I love my student group (shout to the Stanford News Readership Program!) but I annoyed myself with the amount of emails I had to send out to reach the required amount of people, which was 1060 for my group. While I think its great to have a minimum of 15% of the undergraduate population give the OK on letting student groups even get on the ballot for special fees, maybe there should be a better system. Maybe having some type of online system where you can check that you want everything to get on the ballot (but they still have to fight for you vote to get the fees!) or where you can simply opt out of the madness. I thought your article was hilarious and probably true, but Special Fees, in a lot of cases, are the life blood of students groups. There would be NO way to do all the amazing things Stanford students do without them. They fund a lot of things people simply take for granted, like having the newspaper at breakfast. :) Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts on all this!

  5. Former FO says:

    First of all, it’s fine that students know that this is available to them. Maybe someone really needs that $140 and is ecstatic to get it back.

    But before you or anyone goes requesting their fees back willy-nilly, take a moment to think about anything you’re involved in, anything your friends are involved in, and if you want to take away the funding from what they love to do. Because when enough people start taking their money back, the ASSU has to start taking it back from the student groups. And then it’s not free money any more.


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