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GSC talks new graduate student life report, council election ballot testing


In its first meeting of spring quarter, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) discussed a new report published on graduate student life at Stanford, ballot testing for its forthcoming election and Graduate Recruitment and Diversity Day.

The council discussed the recent publication of its report based on a survey conducted last spring. The survey sample included a fifth of all graduate students and addresses different aspects of graduate student life including housing, stipends, healthcare, and diversity and inclusion. The report and next steps will be discussed in an open meeting with the administration, students and staff on April 10.

“It uncovers some pretty troubling trends around the cost of housing, which people are reasonably worried about,” said Kari Barclay, a second-year Ph.D. candidate in theater and performance studies. “But [it] also [addresses] potential gaps in stipends related to ethnicity, gender and sexuality that we’re investigating further and the challenges that students with dependents and students with children are facing.”

The report did not just rely on quantitative data. Instead, it also featured student voices that expressed deep frustration about several key issues, including lack of student diversity and childcare.

The publication of the report coincided with the publication of another report by The Stanford Families Working Advisory Group that reached similar conclusions.

“The hope now is that we have these two reports in dialogue with each other, and … it needs to be a matter of the University administration taking action based on it and in particular being willing to give the resources required to make life for grad students with dependents better here,” said Barclay.

The council also discussed ballot testing in preparations for GSC elections next week. Ballot testing will take place during the executive committee meeting on Thursday in order to prevent potential conflicts of interest that may arise if current council members view the ballot in advance.

“The challenge with the GSC is that a lot of us run again,” said Rosie Nelson, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Education. This raises a problem since GSC members who are running cannot take part in the ballot testing. “So what ends up happening is that there are very few members who can actually contribute in a meaningful way.”

Nelson explained that in the future the council will need to find an alternative approach to test the ballot effectively, perhaps by contacting outside student volunteers or having a focus group.

Last year’s voting issues regarding a problem in the ballot’s back-end logic at the medical school and law school have been identified and fixed.

Finally, members said they were concerned because the GSC was not mentioned during last Friday’s Graduate Recruitment and Diversity Day event when accepted graduate students came to visit the University. While some members thought this was deliberate, others believed that it was due to problems in communication and agreed to be more involved in future Diversity Days.


Contact Anat Peled at anatpel ‘at’