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GSC begins preliminary ARP discussions

Graduate Student Council (GSC) members began discussions on the Alternative Review Process (ARP), Stanford’s judicial procedure for cases involving sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence, at their Nov. 7 meeting.

GSC co-chair Michael Shaw Ph.D. ’13 said that the goal is for the GSC, Undergraduate Senate and Faculty Senate to approve the ARP by the end of the academic year. Co-chair David Hsu, a doctoral student in electrical engineering, added that he does not think the GSC will make a decision until the end of winter quarter.

“I think it’s going to take a while,” Hsu said. “It’s been going on for so many years. We haven’t even started discussing the procedurals yet.”

Until both the GSC and the Undergraduate Senate pass bills regarding the ARP, the Faculty Senate will not take action. The Office of Community Standards (OCS) will also have to approve any changes suggested by the GSC or Undergraduate Senate.

GSC members listened to a presentation about the ARP by Judicial Officer Jamie Pontius-Hogan, Associate Dean and OCS Director Koren Bakkegard, and Senior University Counsel Lauren Schoenthaler. Several GSC members asked questions regarding the format of sexual assault hearings, how cases are investigated and what role the GSC will play in determining the future of the ARP.

Although some GSC members suggested that the Undergraduate Senate and GSC submit a joint proposal to the Board of Judicial Affairs, others doubted whether the 30 representatives from the two legislative bodies would be able to reach a consensus.

“A thirty-person conversation is not as useful as you might imagine,” Shaw said. “It’s possible that a better solution would be a sub-committee of people interested in the topic and willing to put in the time.”

ASSU Senator Viraj Bindra ’15 suggested creating several sub-committees to present different options regarding the ARP. He said last year’s Undergraduate Senate was unable to reach a consensus on the ARP because of the format of their discussions.

“Fifteen people talking about the same issue didn’t work at all,” Bindra said. “It was a massive amount of opinions contradicting each other.”

Regardless of whether or not the GSC decides to create separate sub-committees or submit a joint proposal with the Undergraduate Senate, Hogan encouraged GSC members to review the Board of Judicial Affairs’ meeting minutes from winter quarter 2011 with regard to the ARP before making a decision.

“They had a lot of really thoughtful conversations,” Hogan said. “Reading the minutes would provide some background for why they made the decisions they made.”

GSC members said that they would also like to get more feedback from students before submitting their proposal. Voting member-at-large Hrishi Goel M.S. ’13 said he believes the town hall meetings about the ARP were not very productive because many students who were interested in attending struggled to fit the meeting into their schedules.

“Given that most of our students are online most of the time, if there is something we do want to get student feedback on, we should be using those platforms a lot more,” Goel said.

Hogan emphasized that the Office of Community Standards (OCS) is “open to feedback on any point that students feel strongly about” and said that she hopes students take advantage of the ability to comment on or ask questions about the ARP on the OCS’ website.

Although the GSC hopes to make a recommendation to the Faculty Senate in winter quarter, ASSU President Robbie Zimbroff ’12 predicted that the GSC will be discussing sexual assault on campus for the next few years. Zimbroff referenced the results of a recent Health and Promotion and Services (HPS) survey of 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students as a call to action for the Stanford community.

“The survey came out with some pretty staggering numbers about sexual assault, domestic violence, unwanted and aggressive behavior that indicates this is a problem across campus,” Zimbroff said. “The ARP is one part of a bigger thing that the GSC should talk about.”

At the end of the meeting, Bindra, on behalf of the Undergraduate Senate, asked the GSC to form a sub-committee on the ARP. Shaw said the GSC would discuss the proposal in their Nov. 14 meeting.