By Emma Smith
After lengthy discussion, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) decided on Wednesday against extending an exception to The Stanford Daily to receive their annual grant after applying late. Additionally, the GSC discussed recent meetings with representatives from Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) regarding issues of communication and graduate student representation brought up throughout the year, and voted to approve funding for various campus events.
The Council’s primary points of conflict in the discussion surrounding Daily funding revolved around the GSC’s desire to operate within the confines of the Council’s bylaws and constitution, while acknowledging The Daily’s contributions to the Stanford community. An exception for The Daily in the grants process would have violated the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) constitutional bylaws, which stipulate that senators “shall enforce any deadlines strictly.”
“We have tried this year especially to really stick to fairness, and stick to what’s in our bylaws when we execute these decisions,” said GSC co-chair and cancer biology Ph.D. candidate Amy Tarangelo.
Many councillors noted concerns over the precedent that would be set if they were to provide The Daily with a grant, as there were multiple other student organizations — such as MINT Magazine and Stanford Speaker’s Bureau — that also did not complete the required paperwork on time who were not granted an exception.
“If we help The Daily, we absolutely, absolutely have to help those groups as well,” said Gabby Badica, GSC Social Chair and a Ph.D. candidate in the Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages.
Other members of the Council showed more concern with the operational capabilities of The Daily at large, raising questions regarding how the organization handles its funding and communication.
Malinas said that she was “reluctant to give money to an organization that is struggling,” citing The Daily’s inability to “meet basic deadlines” and the fact that the organization has been operating at a loss since 2010.
The Daily’s Chief Operating Officer Regan Pecjak ’18 defended The Daily’s management of funds.
“We are making moves to cover these losses and make The Daily into something sustainable,” Pecjak said. Pecjak also clarified that the significant loss last year was not reflective of the paper’s previous annual finances, which have consistently recorded a loss between $30,000 and $40,000.
Pecjak added that The Daily has secured large advertising contracts this year that will substantially increase revenue and noted that the paper has been working in the last year to optimize the number of papers printed by reassessing its distribution spots.
Other Council members brought up the value of The Daily on the campus amid concern that the paper would be unable to operate under the same capacity as previous years, if not allotted the annual grant.
Daily Editor-in-Chief Claire Wang ’20 explained the expected changes to Daily operations.
“There would be significant cuts to our print product, we’d have no more magazine, [and] we’d obviously have to cut distribution, which significantly impacts our print advertising — which contributes to a significant amount of our revenue,” she said. “Furthermore, we have several full-time employees at The Daily, so their salaries would have to be cut.”
“Many of us on the Council recognize the incredible value that The Daily adds to Stanford,” Tarangelo said. “We recognize the contributions of all the student staff, your full-time staff, your volunteers, and we recognize the difficult situation that you’re put in. But we’re also in a difficult situation which is that we have to serve a role as stewards of these student fees.”
The Council voted to end the discussion regarding the exception by a vote of 8-0, with two council members abstaining.
On Tuesday, the Undergraduate Senate voted to award The Daily half of its initial request for funding — about $25,000 — as a consequence of the paper’s late filing of their grant request.
Tarangelo also updated the Council on proposed increases in communication with R&DE after a string of concerning incidents with the graduate population, from a recent rat infestation in student housing to complaints about not being allowed in certain dining halls.
Tarangelo attended a meeting last week with Vice Provost for Graduate Education Patricia Gumport, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Senior Associate Vice Provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Shirley Everett to discuss the concerns.
“I told [Everett] that I felt that there was maybe broken trust between R&DE and graduate students based on all of the many things that have happened in the last few years, whether it’s the lead paint incident, the construction noise, [or] the rat incident recently,” Tarangelo said.
Everett suggested that one point of immediate action would be for a representative from R&DE to attend Council meetings. There was not a representative in attendance on Wednesday, however.
Tarangelo said she hoped the meeting would provide resolution to the high-performance dining issue faced by graduate students, who are excluded from high performance dining. However, she said she learned of no specific course of action being taken around the problem because the University has yet to decide if the high-performance dining option will continue next year.
Tarangelo also addressed concerns from graduate students about not being permitted to attend cultural events at dining halls, such as the Lunar New Year event held at Wilbur Dining on Feb. 7. Everett promised that all future cultural events would be held at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, in addition to whichever dining hall they would be usually be held in.
Other council proceedings
The GSC also approved funding requests for events organized by Women in Earth Science, the Brazilian Students Association, BioAims & Stanford Native American Graduate Students, the Materials Research Society, the Japanese Association and a joint event with Stanford Prisoner Advocacy and Resources Coalition, Stanford National Lawyers Guild, Black Law Student Association and OutLaw.
This article has been updated to reflect that the GSC spoke with R&DE, not ResEd. The Daily regrets this error.
Contact Emma Smith at esmith11 ‘at’ stanford.edu.