Procedures violated, vague reason given to reject funding request
An internal complaint and external litigation threat appear to have convinced Stanford’s student government to approve funding for an event with conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza.
Reversing a December vote, the Associated Students of Stanford University’s Undergraduate Senate unanimously approved an internal review of funding decisions at its Tuesday meeting, The Stanford Daily reports.
ASSU financial and governance managers had recommended giving the College Republicans $3,617 for the D’Souza event as part of a $117,700 grant recommendation for all student clubs. The Senate narrowly rejected their recommendations last month, leading the CRs to threaten litigation for holding club budgets “hostage” to prevent the D’Souza event.
Senate approval came a day after the CRs filed a complaint against the Senate with ASSU’s Constitutional Council, alleging the Senate violated the student government’s constitution to deny funding for their event, the Daily reports.
Two-thirds threshold requirement ignored by Senate
It’s been an uphill battle for the CRs, which filed a $6,000 grant application for the event that was leaked to and published by the Daily. This led to pressure on student leaders to block D’Souza as a “hateful” anti-Semite, and ASSU ended up approving just $16.50 of the CRs’ request.
When a private donor stepped forward, offering to cover Stanford’s demanded $19,000 security fee for D’Souza, the CRs said the university rejected the offer, insisting that half the money had to come from “on campus sources.” The university has yet to confirm the source of this rule to The College Fix.
The Young America’s Foundation, which is sponsoring the CRs’ event, said in mid-December the security fee demand had been reduced to $4,000 from this initial $19,000 request, but that it was still subject to the unwritten “on campus sources” rule.
With the Senate’s approval of the recommended $3,617 grant, nothing seems to be standing in the way of D’Souza’s event, now scheduled for Feb. 28. YAF issued a crowing press release Wednesday announcing the student government “caved” and “blinked.”
The action now moves to the Constitutional Council, which is scheduled to vote Jan. 9 on whether the CRs’ complaint is “frivolous.” If it’s not judged frivolous, CRs and Senate representatives will present arguments, according to the Daily.
The 13-page constitutional complaint by the CRs alleged that the Senate showed “viewpoint bias” against them, rejected the internal review recommendation and tried to “override” the appropriations committee, all constitutional violations.
It said the stated reason for the Senate’s rejection of its funding request – an alcohol line item included by the caterer against the CRs’ wishes – “could not have been the reason” for the $16.50 approval, “because the Appropriations Committee had not read the documentation included in the funding request.”
The Dec. 9 vote rejecting the internal review, by a 6-5 margin, did not meet the two-thirds threshold required to overturn a “non-standard budgetary decision,” the complaint claims. (The review had already been approved by the appropriations committee.)
Covering a round-trip train ticket could prevent a lawsuit?
Even if it rejects the procedural claims by the CRs, the Constitutional Council should recognize that the Senate’s December vote violated the club’s speech, according to the complaint.
It was “the culmination of an organized campaign by leftist activists who aimed to use the various governing bodies of the Association to prevent SCR from hosting Dinesh D’Souza on campus,” the CRs said.
Its grant application was the first known pre-vote leak in ASSU history, and the Senate picked an appropriation amount – $16.50 for a round-trip train ticket from the airport – intended to “prevent a lawsuit” by the CRs. The complaint cites various statements by ASSU officials showing bias against D’Souza, including two who said they refused to fund “bigotry.”
Only one senator to vote against the internal review even gave a reason – “inconsistencies” in which groups were recommended for funding – but didn’t explain why she believed they were inconsistent.
Though other student clubs suffered when the Senate voted down the internal review last month, the CRs believe they were “uniquely targeted,” since many of the other groups can recoup lost funding “from their department sponsor.”
IMAGE: Dinesh D’Souza/YouTube