Faculty Senate talks Serra renaming, smoking on campus, PPB report

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The Faculty Senate unanimously approved a four-part resolution regarding the proposal to rename certain campus buildings and roads currently named after Junipero Serra during their meeting Thursday afternoon.

The Faculty Senate’s resolution stated that the Senate “takes full note” of the resolution already passed by the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate Student Council.

The resolution also reaffirmed the Faculty Senate’s support for Stanford’s commitment to the Native American community on campus and expressed the Senate’s support for a critical reflection on Stanford’s historical legacy, including the names of people associated with it.

Finally, the resolution both approved the creation of and welcomed a currently unnamed committee of faculty, staff and students that will examine the issue of location names on campus. The committee will be led by David Kennedy ’63, professor emeritus of history.

“After the ASSU resolution passed expressing concern about the Serra name on things, we formed a committee to look at the issue,” said Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82, who presented plans for the committee to the Senate. “Not just about Serra, but naming in general and what the principles should be to reconsider and possibly remove names of buildings or streets.”

Before the vote, ASSU President John-Lancaster Finley ’16 expressed his appreciation to the Faculty Senate for tackling the issue of campus names.

“Receiving this resolution that the steering committee has put forward … shows to me that faculty and staff listen to and really care about students,” Finley said. “The committee being put together, I think that’s an incredible and really thoughtful step … that affirms commitments to this community.”

Etchemendy also said that no further action would be taken on plans to make Stanford a smoke-free campus. Before the meeting, Etchemendy brought the results of a pair of studies to the Faculty Senate steering committee.

“It seems like [second-hand smoke] isn’t enough of a problem to do anything about,” he said.

However, the non-smoking range around buildings will be extended from 30 feet to 50 feet.

Etchemendy also announced that the Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI) project has received multiple awards from the Engineering News-Record, a construction industry magazine. SESI was selected as regional and national best project in the category of energy industrial plants, as well as editor’s choice for best overall project.

The Senate additionally heard a report from Russell Berman, German professor and former chair of the Planning and Policy Board (PPB) committee.

Berman discussed issues that will be addressed in an upcoming PPB report to the Senate.

“We have these two charges, housing and undergraduate education,”  he said.

Berman talked about the state of graduate student housing, and the issue of bereavement absences forcing some graduate students into renting housing off-campus.

Berman also spoke about maintaining intellectual diversity on campus, asking the Senate for input on how to improve this diversity. According to Berman, intellectual diversity includes both diversity of majors and breadth of courses that individual students take.

Finally, Berman expressed concern about excessive vocationalism among students. While he recognized the legitimacy of concerns about career prospects, he worried that students give these concerns too much weight.

He discussed potential ways to alleviate students’ career-related stress, such as eliminating grades during freshman year and helping students use their summer quarters more productively.

 

Contact Regan Pecjak at [email protected]

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