In its meeting on Wednesday, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) proposed drafting a public letter to the Graduate Housing Advising Committee (GHAC) and Graduate Student Housing about 48-hour entry warnings amidst privacy concerns. Additionally, outside updates on Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) and the funding committee pushed the GSC to question financial affairs.
Housing privacy concerns
A short notice entry from Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) last Friday in Escondido Village Studios Three and Four resulted in angry responses from graduate students about privacy issues.
GSC member Megan Conlon from the natural sciences division of the School of Humanities said a housing email issued at 8 a.m. last Friday notified residents of entries from housing staff starting at 9 a.m. to replace desk chairs. Due to complaints of insufficient notice, housing moved the replacement to this Wednesday.
In a response email, a representative from the Graduate Life Office (GLO) said that the 48-hour notice is “simply courtesy,” as student housing does not fall under the California Tenants Act, and thus students are not mandated a 24-hour notice of entry. Conlon, as well as graduate student Chris Miller, candidate for Ph.D. in neuroscience, said that students should be granted basic rights to privacy regarding entry.
“I think we pay enough for housing to deserve a minimal service like this,” Miller said.
Miller and GSC member Melanie Malinas, a Ph.D. candidate in biophysics, said that housing should both email students and post a notice of planned entries.
GSC member Alejandro Schuler from the School of Medicine motioned for the GSC to write a public letter to GHAC and housing about creating a policy for a 48-hour notice of entry for non-emergency maintenance via post and email.
GSC member Gabriela Badica from the Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages suggested a section thanking the GLO and housing for their services be added to the letter, which gained wide consensus from the council.
“It is a good idea to have the letter, but we have to recognize work they do for us,” Badica said. “Everybody makes mistakes but I don’t think they need to be demonized for it.”
Co-chair Jennifer Hill, Ph.D. candidate in sociology, updated the GSC on SSE affairs based upon SSE’s recent quarterly meeting. Hill is running against 2017-18 ASSU Executive Chief of Staff Matthew Cohen ’18 for chair of the SSE Board of Supervisors.
According to Hill, SSE passed a bill to discuss divesting ASSU funds from fossil fuels, titled “Joint Bill to Seek Comment Regarding Divesting ASSU Funds from Fossil Fuels.” She said that contention rose during the SSE meeting around a letter composed by Vanguard, the most prominent investor for SSE, in which Vanguard representatives said the “risks may outweigh the benefits” for divesting from fossil fuels.
Hill suggested potentially moving away from Vanguard.
“If we want to make changes, it may involve some financial hit for the moral stance we want to take,” Hill said.
Additionally, Hill said SSE is dealing with internal issues regarding legal guidelines. Although operating under the assumption of incorporation, SSE has no records of incorporation and is hiring legal assistance to sort out guidelines, according to Hill.
“There is no record of incorporation; that’s a bit of a question mark,” Hill said.
Hill also said the rules of order regarding participation from former SSE officers also does not follow California legal standards, raising questions of operation as a 501(c)(3).
In an email response to Hill’s comments, SSE CEO Jelani Munroe ’16 wrote that he did not have direct responses given that he was not at the meeting, but that “there has been no determination of any lack of legal compliance for ASSU/SSE.”
“We (certainly I) have spent a lot of time in the last year reflecting on the ASSU and trying to ensure we are running the best organization that we can,” Munroe added. “Out of this reflection came an internal proposal for us to seek legal advice on what things we do well, and what things we can improve as a non-profit. That’s the explicit mandate of this initiative.”
Funding committee updates
Malinas and Isa Rosa from the School of Engineering were named co-chairs of the funding committee.
Schuler presented a draft for a motion to update the GSC’s funding guidelines, including a form for VSO financial officers to fill out as a way to reduce time in the funding committee office hours and present the financial officers with the written guidelines. The form would require financial officers to read the guidelines and provide contact information in addition to making the request.
Schuler proposed that VSOs not be required to attend GSC meetings in addition to the funding committee office hours. This raised concerns for Rosa, who said that would give the funding committee too much power.
Kari Barclay from theater and performance studies suggested that the VSO or the funding committee could petition to come to the GSC meeting if the funding bill deemed it necessary.
The GSC tabled further discussion of the guidelines for next week.
The GSC website server is damaged and will go live as soon as it is repaired.
Contact Gillian Brassil at gbrassil ‘at’ stanford.edu.