In its weekly Wednesday meeting, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) considered a bill that would provide the federal government with feedback on proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
The Council also discussed concerns about its financial organization and swore in a new member, first-year Stanford law student Mary Hwang, to replace the Law School’s former representative, who was expelled in the Nov. 7 meeting for poor attendance.
Conversation centered on a “Bill to Submit ASSU Comment to the U.S. Department of Education on Proposed Title IX Regulations,” which resolves that Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Executive President Shanta Katipamula ’19 will submit relevant feedback to the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of the ASSU. The bill was authored by Katipamula and ASSU Executive Co-Director of Sexual Violence Prevention Emma Tsurkov J.S.M ’15.
The bill’s text states that “the new Title IX regulations … include several provisions which we find incompatible with the stated purpose of the proposed regulations and Title IX to eliminate gender discrimination in access to education.”
On Nov. 16, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released her department’s proposal for an overhaul of regulations governing schools’ obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act with regards to sexual assault cases. The proposed changes would narrow the definition of sexual harassment, reduce liability for universities and allow cross-examination between accused and accusing parties. The notice-and-comment period offers the public the opportunity to submit feedback on the proposal.
Katipamula appeared before the Council to discuss her bill, beginning with a discussion of Title IX broadly.
“[Title IX] essentially says that no student should be denied access to a fair, equal education on the basis of sex,” Katipamula said. “Since 1972, courts have interpreted sex discrimination to include sexual harassment, which then includes sexual assault and rape as a particularly severe form of sexual harassment.”
She also criticized DeVos’s planned changes to Title IX. The GSC bill, as currently written, contains nine objections.
“A lot of these regulations are going to be very harmful and are going to impact our campus,” Katipamula told the Council. “We feel very strongly that as representatives of the student body, we should make our voice heard.”
Katipamula also informed the Council of plans to educate students on how to provide their own feedback on the Department of Education’s proposal. This Friday, from 4 to 5 p.m., the ASSU is hosting a notice-and-comment writing workshop in Kingscote Gardens to “empower” students to write effective feedback.
The Council expects to vote on the bill during the first week of winter quarter.
Councilmembers also discussed whether the Faculty Senate should be invited to send a representative to GSC meetings. GSC co-chair Amy Tarangelo, cancer biology Ph.D candidate, supported the idea, and Pau Guinart Ph.D. ’18 said he would discuss it with the Faculty Senate.
GSC Social Chair Gabby Badica, a Ph.D candidate in the Division of Literature, Cultures, and Languages, raised concerns about the Council’s financial organization.
“We need to get a handle on our financial accounts,” Badica said. “Things like the bills we’ve sponsored — we haven’t actually sent these people money because I don’t know what account it’s supposed to come out from.”
“We need to figure out how to fix this problem,” she added. “We gotta pay out stuff.”
“I’m really concerned about this,” Tarangelo agreed. “I have no idea what the answer is, because there was no financial onboarding for me.”
Tarangelo suggested that either she or GSC co-chair and aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D candidate Yiqing Ding would join Badica and GSC Financial Officer Aditya Ranjan M.B.A. ’19 to meet with Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) and determine how to proceed.
The Council also approved minutes from its last meeting and approved funding requests from the German Student Association, the Colombian Student Association and the Black Engineering Graduate Student Association. The Council also passed “A Bill to Fund the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF),” allocating $3,000 to the event.