By Caleb Smith
The Graduate Student Council (GSC) debated the merits of a new sexual assault reporting website and discussed funding for off campus events in its Wednesday night meeting.
The GSC considered whether it should urge the University to adopt Callisto, an online reporting system approved by the Undergraduate Senate on Tuesday, as a way for survivors of sexual assault to report being assaulted.
Shanta Katipamula ’19, the chair of the Undergraduate Senate, explained how the process would work under the website. Users of the website who submitted a complaint would be summoned by the Title IX office to discuss the matter. Katipamula said that the service would be helpful because it enables people to delay reporting a complaint while still preserving the timeline.
One GSC member expressed concern that this ability to preserve information might tilt the field in cases heard long after they happened, as the person making the complaint would have lots of information preserved at the time but the defendant might not have any records or recollection of the night in question.
The GSC then debated how serious an issue this would be. Several GSC members wanted a pilot program to exist for both graduate and undergraduate students.
The GSC decided to table the measure for further consideration next week.
Katipamula said that she was told by the Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Education and Response (SARA) that the office supported Callisto. Katipamula said that Stanford would want to try a demo before signing a contract with the service.
The GSCs funding guidelines were a source of tension when a representative for the Graduate First-Generation and/or Low Income Partnership (Grad FLIP) sought funding for a mixer in Redwood City.
Isa Rosa, a GSC member, expressed serious concern over the proposal, as it was off campus in a private residence.
“We are taking too big of a risk here … We want this event to happen, we would like it to be with GSC funding, [but] we would like it to be held in the Tymoshenko lounge [on campus],” Rosa said.
GSC funding guidelines allow off-campus events, but such events have not been previously held at private residences. Some GSC members thought that it would be a dangerous precedent and would potentially open the ASSU to liability if something went wrong in an off-campus event.
There was also concern within the GSC that the event might be hard to get to for on-campus students. The representative of Grad FLIP pushed back strongly against the concerns, arguing that as an organization that serves students who sometimes do not feel like they fit in on campus, an off-campus location would be helpful. The representative also said that the non-GSC-funded version of the event last year held off-campus was a success and that a carpool was being arranged to provide rides to those who needed them.
The proposal to fund the request for the off-campus event lost by a vote of three to five with two abstentions. However, when the condition of holding the event on campus was added, the GSC approved the revised event unanimously.
The GSC also discussed funding an event being put on by several student groups together. However, there was an issue with some participating student groups not appearing at a funding committee hearing, which prevented all the funding applications to be approved in tandem. The limited package of funding was approved for the Student National Medical Association and Black Graduate Student Association. The Stanford German Student Association and Stanford Youth Cultural Exchange Initiative also got funding approved.
ASSU Senator Kathryn Treder ’18 urged the GSC to approve a resolution recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This would change the name of the holiday on the free calendar that Stanford Student Enterprises distributes, but would not have an impact on the University, and the resolution did not call on Stanford to recognize the holiday.
The GSC discussed the bill and ultimately resolved to vote on it next week.
The Graduate Student Council is searching for a webmaster, who would be filling a paid position.
Gabriela Badica reported that the Thanksgiving event hosted by the Graduate Student Council was very successful. She reported that wait times were about seven minutes and that about 60 people volunteered. Badica reported that Provost John Etchemendy came and assured the GSC that the event would continue to be funded in future years.
The GSC also realized that the GSC banner is missing and wanted whoever has it to return it.