Widgets Magazine

Graduate Council discusses county sales tax, funds student groups

In their first meeting of the academic year, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) discussed several issues affecting the graduate student body, as well as endorsing a ballot initiative to raise the sales tax in Santa Clara County. The council also heard funding requests from several student groups.

Funding approved across the board

The council approved funding for parties and kick-off events to be held in the following week, all of which are posted on the GSC’s online calendar. Additionally, the GSC approved yearly funding for groups involved in science education.

Several groups representing international students and students of color, such as the Black Graduate Student Association and the Stanford German Association, are holding events in the following weeks. The GSC itself has planned a welcome-back party for next week, which it anticipates to be the biggest off-campus party of the year.

The Science Bus and Stanford Science Penpals, both science outreach organizations, were approved for funding. Both groups organize mentoring opportunities for graduates interested in assisting K-12 students, but the Penpals are also seeking undergraduate participation.

Graduate community affected by construction, Title IX holds

The council noted that construction around the Escondido Village area may initially reduce the number of parking spaces available to students with families or couples living together, but will likely also impact the larger population of ES parking permit holders.

Council members have already begun conversations with Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) and Parking and Transportation Services (P&TS) over the issue, and will seek input from students impacted by the construction.

Additionally, the council deliberated over informing students of an un-advertised 30-day hold on class enrollment that will be placed on anyone who fails to complete mandatory Title IX training. The council will consider working with the Office of the Registrar to give students notice of the hold before registration opens for winter quarter on Oct. 30. Some members, such as GSC secretary and sixth-year PhD candidate in electrical engineering David Hsu, who represents the school of engineering, will also send out email reminders about the hold.

Measure B

In a non-binding poll, the council expressed that it would likely not endorse Measure B, an initiative to fund sustainability-minded transportation improvements in Santa Clara County by raising the sales tax 0.5 percent. The council members reasoned that it was not the GSC’s role to weigh in on the measure.

Undergraduate Senate Deputy Chair Mylan Gray ʼ19 reported that the sponsors of the bill are seeking endorsements from college student governments in hopes of encouraging students to vote. GSC co-chair and fourth-year PhD candidate in Iberian and Latin American cultures Pau Guinart noted that since the body represents the whole graduate community, the GSC should not be in the business of sponsoring political initiatives.

Council Member Hsu doubted whether the measure would impact students.

“This [measure] is not really going to affect students”, said Hsu. “Or if it is, a lot of us won’t really have a say in it.”

Unlike with the undergraduate student population, large proportions of graduates are international students and cannot vote.

Gray articulated some Senators’ reasoning that the ASSU constitution would permit the GSC to endorse Measure B, since it directly affects students. Council Member Yiren Shen, a second-year law student, argued that even if the measure were constitutional, it still seemed inappropriate to rule on the issue, which many members considered at least semi-political. Co-chair Guinart concurred that choosing to endorse the measure may not set good precedent for future GSCs.

Council Member and fifth-year PhD candidate in sociology Jennifer Hill argued that if the council were to consider offering an endorsement, it would need to hear arguments from opponents of the measure as well as its original sponsors, which would likely not happen before elections in November.

“I am concerned about only getting one side,” said co-chair and PhD candidate in microbiology and immunology Terence Theisen.

The Council concluded by discussing updates to their website, a topic they will revisit at their next meeting.

 

Contact Miguel Samano at msamano ‘at’ stanford.edu.