Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Two decades of Stanford’s future are on the table

Every 20 years or so, Stanford revisits its vision for the future — a vision of more Arrillaga gyms, awkward roundabouts, hotel-like dorms and red tile roofs — and applies for a license called the General Use Permit, or GUP. This permit is Stanford’s first step to make its vision a reality.

Last November, Stanford submitted a draft of its next GUP, outlining its proposed development from 2018 through 2035. This document shows that, as usual, Stanford is dreaming big. Right now, the University is asking for nearly 4,000 new students, 40 football fields worth of new academic and academic-support buildings and enough beds for almost five more Wilbur Halls, all by 2035.

But these big dreams have an impact, and that means big responsibilities.

For example, when Stanford plans to hire 2,400 new workers and admit 2,200 new graduate students, where will they find homes? Some may get lucky and find places near campus, but at the risk of displacing longtime residents in communities such as East Palo Alto and Belle Haven. The rest will spend several hours commuting to campus — some coming from as far away as the Central Valley — usually not by choice. Stanford is responsible for these impacts and many others when it asks for this extensive growth.

So when Stanford lays out the blueprint for its dreams in the GUP, Santa Clara County makes sure our university is dreaming responsibly, by asking individuals and groups how they are impacted by the growth and what should be done about it. In this way, the GUP is a powerful tool for accountability. Through the 2000 GUP, students and community organizations pressed the county to use the permit to limit what they saw as the negative impacts of a “bigger Stanford” on the campus and broader community. Through their efforts, they successfully preserved open spaces (such as the foothills around the Dish) by limiting development to the main academic campus, a restriction that remains in place today.

As much as the GUP is a chance for Stanford to dream big, it is a chance for us and our neighboring communities to dream big too — to imagine a Stanford that invests in its community and leaves a legacy of equity.

From this vision for our university, the Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 (SCoPE 2035) was born. Representatives from several student groups have begun to come together to move Stanford toward embracing 1) its role as an anchor institution and a practice of resource reciprocation, 2) labor and transportation equity, 3) accessible and affordable housing and 4) zero greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. We believe these are priority areas for Stanford to consider as it continues to grow and develop towards 2035.

On Feb. 8, the county will hold a crucial public meeting that sets the course for the rest of the negotiation process until 2018. That day, SCoPE 2035 will release a set of concrete proposals within these focus areas for the County and Stanford to consider as they negotiate the General Use Permit.

Students are not the only ones with a vision for a more equitable 2035, though. Members from SEIU Local 2007, the labor union representing directly employed Stanford workers, will be directly impacted by the outcomes of GUP and would like to see improvements. SCoPE 2035 will be proudly supporting the union as it advocates for improved housing and transportation options for Stanford staff. Together, we look forward to working with Stanford to achieve our visions.

Stanford’s dreaming big. We’re dreaming better. We’re dreaming for an equitable 2035, and we invite you to join us.

—SCoPE 2035

 

Contact Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 at equitable2035 ‘at’ gmail.com.