In its weekly Wednesday meeting, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) saw an impassioned presentation on failings in the training program for leaders of student organizations. The GSC also considered prior notice bills relating to campaign finance reform and funding for social events.
Student leader training
Zachary del Rosario, a fifth-year aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D student and president of the Stanford chapter of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), delivered the address on student leader training to the Council during its open session.
“They changed the training materials,” he said. “It’s shockingly bad.”
del Rosario’s grievances include “awful technical errors” and “shockingly bad pedagogical design” in the program. He primarily expressed concern with the training relating to financial policies and practices.
del Rosario spoke of one technical error which forced users to restart the 45-minute module, effectively requiring them to take it twice. Councillor Mary Hwang, a first-year law student, said she had experienced the glitch.
Because the presidents and financial officers from each of the several hundred voluntary student organizations (VSOs) on campus are required to undergo the training, technical glitches can have far-ranging impacts.
“It’s wasting a lot of our time,” del Rosario said.
He also took issue with the module’s overall design, a recorded lecture that students watch, which he described as ”the least effective way to actually deliver content.” He cited an excerpt from a scientific publication comparing different pedagogical techniques, offering to provide examples of training programs that were done better and recommendations for how it could be improved.
Councillors agreed to look into the issue further and take action if appropriate. GSC co-chair and cancer biology Ph.D candidate Amy Tarangelo asked del Rosario to email her a list of grievances.
The training, they said, is administered through Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE).
“We can ask SSE to make a better training,” biophysics Ph.D candidate Melanie Malinas said.
Finance and funding bills
In scheduled proceedings, the Council considered three bills on notice.
The first, “Bill to Amend the Joint Bylaws to Reform Campaign Spending Limits and Executive Slate Public Financing Policies,” would lower spending limits on student government campaigns to make them “more proportional” to the level of office to which they apply.
The bill, authored by ASSU Elections Commissioner Jacob Randolph ’19, would also lower the number of graduate student signatures required for candidates to qualify for public financing from 100 to 50. The Council will vote on this next week.
Additionally, the Council considered two other bills authored by Gabby Badica, GSC social co-chair and Ph.D candidate in the Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages. One, which allocates $5,000 for a Valentine’s Day party, will be voted on next week by the Council.
The other would have provided funding for EEPROM, the Graduate Students in Electrical Engineering’s (GSEE) annual gala, but after brief discussion, Badica said she would resubmit the motion as a VSO request.
In brief updates, Tarangelo mentioned recruiting students for working groups focused on mental health and wellness, as well as finance and affordability. Social chair and civil and environmental engineering Ph.D candidate Rui Liu M.S. ’16 discussed plans for a “Welcome back” party, the Valentine’s Day-themed event and Chinese New Year celebrations. Diversity & Advocacy Committee (DAC) co-chair and aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D candidate Ana Tarano B.S. ’13 M.S. ’15 discussed DAC’s plans for a summit later this month focused on diversity and inclusion.
The council also approved funding requests from the Thai Student Association, the Chinese Women Collective, the Stanford Biosciences Student Association and the Sikh Students Association.
Contact Charlie Curnin at ccurnin ‘at’ stanford.edu.