By Brooke Beyer
The first meeting of the 2019-20 Graduate Student Council (GSC) reflected on the year’s successes before looking to the future with elections of officer positions, announcements from R&DE regarding summer plans and a discussion of academic advisors and their role in the graduate school.
Ph.D. candidate in geophysics Shanna Chu, representative for the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, reported on her conversations with fellow grad students about uncomfortable situations in which graduate students experience “academic bullying” in their working relationships with their advisors. She noted that circumstances such as advisors being up for tenure, or being their primary outlet for letters of recommendation, make it difficult for graduate students to report incidents of microaggression and disrespect.
The GSC discussed potential long-range solutions to this issue, noting members’ concern and commitment to opening the conversation up in same way the GSC opened a conversation around harassment and discrimination.
“This is not the end of that conversation…we should be continuing to have this as a new council,” said third-year graduate student in theater and performance studies Kari Barclay, head of the Diversity and Advocacy Committee.
The new GSC also established many officer positions for the 2019-20 year, although they did not vote on all roles due to low council member turnout.
Third-year immunology Ph.D. candidate Lawrence Bai was voted in as Financial Officer and Graduate School of Education Ph.D. student David Song was voted in as Secretary, both with 7-0-1. The GSC reaffirmed the importance of a Faculty Senate Liaison, and fourth-year Ph.D. candidate Ricardo Peterson was voted in by proxy, 7-0-1. All abstentions were made by the members elected to their respective positions.
The GSC deferred voting on Parliamentarian, food czar and the positions managing financial literacy and retreat planning until there could be more members present to vote. To fill the Funding Committee, the GSC decided to send out a grad-wide email to engage a range of students.
Other council updates
Barclay highlighted the positive achievements of student leaders recognized for their contributions to advocacy and inclusion within the graduate school. Leaders focused on issues including the recent #StanfordToo event, disability justice and graduate student family accessibility.
Aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D. candidate Ana Tarano B.S. ’13 M.S. ’15 additionally reminded Councillors to complete the Association of American Universities (AAU) Sexual Assault survey, due in two days. The graduate student response rate thus far has been around 55 percent, averaged across the graduate schools.
The group also held its first vote of this Council, approving the funding for the annual Grad Block Party. Social Committee co-chair Gabby Badica announced that the celebration will be Roaring Twenties themed.
The GSC was joined by members of Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Jocelyn Breeman, Eric Montell and Imogen Hinds, as per new protocol regarding R&DE presence at meetings. Montell announced the menu for the Spring Fair and provided general information regarding R&DE summer policy, including reduced dining halls for graduate students over the break, accommodations for Ramadan and an update on the upcoming negotiations for the Service Employees International Union. As the current contract will expire August 31, Montell will be representing R&DE at the talks that will reestablish the contract.
The group discussed planning for their future annual retreat, deciding to focus on vision-planning and group bonding.
Contact Brooke Beyer at bbeyer ‘at’ stanford.edu.