In its Wednesday night session, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) unanimously passed a bill committing Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) President Shanta Katipamula ’19 to submitting feedback to the United States Department of Education regarding proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
The Undergraduate Senate passed the same bill in a unanimous vote Tuesday night.
The bill, authored by Katipamula and ASSU Executive Co-Director of Sexual Violence Prevention Emma Tsurkov J.S.M. ’15, has been discussed at the past two meetings of the GSC.
In November, education secretary Betsy DeVos unveiled her department’s overhaul of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, a federal law that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions and federally funded programs. A notice-and-comment period allows the public to respond to the proposed changes, which would narrow the definition of sexual harassment, reduce liability for universities and allow cross-examination between accused and accusing parties.
The feedback to be submitted by Katipamula, which is credited to “the student body at Stanford University, graduates and undergraduates,” contains 11 detailed objections to the Title IX overhaul.
“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,” the statement reads.
The comment, for example, cites section 106.44(e)(1) as one such provision. This section proposes that the definition of sexual harassment be changed to “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity.”
Such an “overly restrictive” definition, the statement argues, “would allow many instances of sexual harassment to go unaddressed on campuses.”
“The proposed changes tip the scales against victims of gender-based violence and are part of this federal administration’s indifference to sexual violence,” it continues.
After a 10-minute recess to allow for the council members to read the latest draft of the bill, the Council proceeded to a brief discussion. Several council members praised the legislation, including theater and performance studies Ph.D. candidate Kari Barclay.
“It’s so well-researched, and it’s very clear that folks did very close reading,” Barclay said. “Major kudos.”
After a round of snaps in praise of the authors, the bill was passed.
The Council also approved minutes from its last meeting and authorized funding for seven student organizations, four of which are collaborating in a Chinese New Year celebration: the Association for Chinese Students and Scholars at Stanford, the Chinese Women’s Collective, Chinese Sing and the Chinese Music Ensemble. The Korean Student Association, the Black Engineering Graduate Student Association and the Black Law Student Association also received approval for funding requests.
Additionally, the Council discussed several upcoming events. As GSC co-chair, aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D. candidate Yiqing Ding provided brief updates on the scheduling of a meeting with Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) to address graduate students’ concerns about limited dining options.
Social chair Gabby Badica, a Ph.D. candidate in the Division of Literature, Cultures and Languages, provided brief updates about a “busy quarter” for the Council, with a wellness-themed “welcome back” event and a large Valentine’s Day celebration.
Finally, Diversity & Advocacy Committee (DAC) co-chair Ana Tarano announced plans for a “diversity summit” later this month intended “to bring together leaders in diversity and inclusion.”