By Sean Chen
In its final meeting before adjourning for Thanksgiving break, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) resolved to encourage Stanford to divest from companies involved in the so-called “Paradise Papers,” organized the GSC Thanksgiving Dinner and discussed the Republican tax reform bill currently making its way through the House of Representatives.
During the meeting’s open session, theater and performing arts Ph.D. student and Council member Kari Barclay proposed a bill that would have the GSC draft a letter pressing for Stanford’s divestment from a company implicated in the Paradise Papers leak.
The leak, covered by many news outlets, revealed Stanford as one of many universities that use “blocker corporations” to lower the taxes they have to pay on endowment earnings. During a Faculty Senate meeting, University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne acknowledged the offshore investments as a way for the University to maximize its funds.
Barclay mentioned that Stanford is currently investing in a blocker corporation in the Cayman Islands. He also cited accusations that Silicon Valley corporations have been avoiding taxes, connecting the tax avoidance to the apparent lack of funding for infrastructure in Santa Clara County.
“[Tax evasion] is happening all around us,” Barclay said. “Stanford needs to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.”
After discussing whether Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing and Board of Trustees would consider a letter from the GSC advocating for divestment, the council resolved to draft a copy to be reviewed next meeting.
The GSC Thanksgiving Dinner will provide an opportunity for graduate students and their families staying at Stanford over the break to enjoy a full and communal Thanksgiving meal in the Kennedy Commons grass area.
“Out of all the events I organize for the GSC, [Thanksgiving Dinner is] the one that most captures the spirit of what the GSC tries to do for graduate students, which is to build community,” said GSC social chair, principal event organizer and Iberian and Latin-American cultures Ph.D. student Gabby Badica.
With most of the event’s planning completed, samples of the food items to be served on the day — including turkey, apple pies, and marshmallowed yams — were presented to the council for taste-testing. Council members were satisfied with the variety of options available, though Badica expressed her desire to make clearer labels for items catered to those with dietary restrictions. Badica said many time slots remain open for graduate students interested in attending the event who have not yet signed up.
Badica is currently offering gift cards in a search for more volunteers for the event and hopes that those interested will contact her at [email protected]
The GSC also resolved to stay updated on the House Republicans’ tax reform bill, which could increase taxes drastically for graduate students if passed. Council member and Civil And Environmental Engineering Ph.D. student Isa Rosa brought up a separate U.S. Senate bill that could affect graduate students’ health care mandates. In response, Council Chair and Education Ph.D. student Rosie Nelson remarked that graduate students should call their representatives and senators with to share their opinions.
The GSC will go on a week-long hiatus during Thanksgiving and reconvene on Nov. 29.
Contact Sean Chen at kxsean ‘at’ stanford.edu.