As student representatives, we seek to center student voices in everything we do. When we ran for ASSU Executive President and Vice President last spring, it was with three collective years of experience in working with administrators between the two of us. In so many of our meetings, we saw over and over that most University committees were content to do the bare minimum. If they had students on their committee, their input would be considered, and if we were really lucky, the ASSU leadership would also be given an opportunity to provide input. We ran for our ASSU executive positions to counter this practice, and ensure that more student voice is heard than just ours as critical decisions are made. While many committees continue to struggle with this, ResX is one of three committees that’s gone above and beyond any other committees we’ve ever worked before.
While we pass no judgement on the recommendations and outcomes of ResX (which we would be remiss without mentioning that these recommendations are not yet public and the Editorial Board is only speculating on the outcome), we believe the Editorial Board’s piece is dangerously misinformed on the level of student input into the process.
When the ResX Task Force was formed last spring, two current undergraduates were placed on the committee. One was an RA, while the other had served on the Committee on Residential Learning (CoRL). After graduation, they stayed on the committee to ensure continuity of effort. Initially, the recommendations from ResX were to be submitted early fall quarter and given that both of these recent graduates were in the area over the summer, it made sense for them to continue rather than be replaced. When the timeline for the committee’s work was extended until the end of December, we raised the same concern that the Editorial Board raised in their piece: that there were no longer current students and now that classes were restarting, finding a student to serve should not be too difficult. The Task Force agreed to add more student representation, and therefore at the end of the summer, we contacted every single student who has served as a student staff member over the past two years. (Given the charge of the Task Force and that the process had already been underway for a few months, it was determined that students with staffing experience would be ideal additions as they would be easier to bring up to speed.) Of the students we contacted, we received two responses. One student was just starting their role as a staff member, so we decided to recommend the student who had already completed a full year on staff. Ultimately, the student decided they did not have the capacity to continue to serve in this role. By this point, we were part of the way into the quarter and nearing the end of the process. Given the approaching deadline and the lack of student interest from eligible students, we mutually agreed that we should instead continue focusing on broad student outreach.
In addition to holding multiple virtual and in-person town halls throughout the summer and fall, members of the Task Force had over 600 unique online submissions and participation from over 500 students, staff, alumni, faculty. We had check-ins every other week with the Stanford University Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs (VPSA) to stay up-to-date on ResX’s work and suggest how they could continue soliciting student input. VPSA sent emails throughout summer and fall expressing interest in meeting with students, and providing an online form for students to submit input to as well. As stated in their email update, to their knowledge, they met with every group and individual who requested a meeting. We presented a list of priorities for the Task Force to consider, prior to which we also sent out an all-campus email soliciting student feedback.
While the ResX process was not perfect, we believe that credit should be given where due, and the ResX Task Force ran one of the most collaborative processes for student engagement that we have ever seen. We hope that other committees will follow their model, which is why we think it is important to correct the record.
Shanta Katipamula, ‘19
Rosie Nelson, 5th year PhD student in Graduate School of Education
Contact Shanta Katipamula at skatipam ‘at’ stanford.edu.