Widgets Magazine

GSC weighs democratic fairness of reelection

The Graduate Student Council worried over implications of a reelection after last week’s glitches (GILLIAN BRASSIL/The Stanford Daily).

In its meeting on Wednesday, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) discussed the partial redo of the election that passed last meeting and its effects on the election of the next GSC as well as funding and stipend changes for the next year. Concerns over the democratic fairness of the election versus disenfranchisement of voters raised questions of running an entirely new graduate election ballot, causing the GSC to put a reelection of the “at-large” portion of the ballot back on the table.

The partial redo suggested last week went live on Thursday at midnight and will run until 11:59 p.m. on Friday. The partial redo features all aspects of the original ballot with the exception of the Executive slate and is open to students in the Law School and the School of Medicine as well as voters affected by an originally incomplete link who were unable to revote by the deadline of Friday, April 14.

After consulting the Office of Institutional Research and Decision Support, the Elections Commission determined that all previous glitches associated with the original ballot were resolved for the new ballot. There is no confirmation on whether or not the original “at-large” section of the ballot was randomized, as some GSC members, including Isa Rosa M.S. ’16, worried last week.

Several councilors wanted to motion to cast an entire reelection of the “at-large” portion of the ballot. The proposition was not voted on because there are no official election results to rerun without the inclusion of the partial redo.

GSC members were concerned with the way they were reelected, saying that they were uncomfortable with having won through a faulty ballot. Gabriela Badica from the school of Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages noted that she did not want to win if the graduate community felt that the election results were biased.

“I don’t want to win this way,” Badica said.

GSC Co-Chair Pau Guinart Ph.D. ’18 was also concerned with the fairness of the results and questioned the democratic process. Guinart asked the newly elected members if they were comfortable with the proceedings, but also said that the Elections Commission needs to come back with more data before running a new election.

“There are not going to be enough ways of thanking the Elections Commission and all of their hard work,” Guinart said. “Still, it is hard to accept a result that has technical questions.”

This raised concerns over whether a revote would disenfranchise previous voters from voting again. Discussion of a new election was tabled until further notice after the partial redo.

The GSC passed the ASSU Executive slate of Justice Tention ’18 and Vicki Niu ’18.

Councilors also discussed Stanford Long-Range Planning, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell’s project to focus on improving Stanford in the coming 10-15 years.

The goal of the project is to improve opportunities for faculty and students to succeed, and its initiatives depend on hearing from staff and departments to know what departmental changes are needed.

“We want to ask, ‘How does Stanford keep improving its own mission [and] how do we best equip Stanford with what it needs to be successful?’” said GSC Co-Chair Terence Theisen from the Stanford School of Medicine.

Theisen urged the GSC to submit proposals, either as a group or individually. Proposals for change will be accepted through June. Some members, including proxy Kate Gasparro from the School of Civil Engineering and SSE assistant financial manager Sean Means ’18, questioned accountability and transparency of the information-gathering process.

Referring to graduate students, Theisen said, “There are more of us than anyone at Stanford, [so] how do you envision changing the University?”

Councilor Rosa proposed the creation of a task force within the future GSC for writing proposals.

Members also discussed stipend changes for next year, including dropping the formal office positions of tax coordinator and public relations coordinator. Additionally, the GSC discussed pooling the stipends for the funding committee and having the distribution of payment at the discretion of either the committee or the GSC as a whole. Decisions will be discussed at a later date.

 

Contact Gillian Brassil at gbrassil ‘at’ stanford.edu.