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GSC approves partial funds to bring Chanel Miller to campus in spring quarter

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During the Graduate Student Council’s (GSC) last meeting of the quarter, councilors approved a bill to provide $5,000 toward an event bringing Chanel Miller to campus — half of what was requested by event organizer and former Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) President Shanta Katipamula B.S. ’19 M.S. ’20. She informed the GSC that the Miller event, initially booked for winter quarter, will be moved to spring quarter due to Miller’s schedule.

Because five of 12 councilors were absent at the time the bill was voted on, the GSC only approved half the amount of funding requested by the ASSU, noting that the voices of those who were absent should also be considered in the vote. After approving the first $5,000, the Council decided that the remaining $5,000 will be voted on in the near future via email.

“We want to show Chanel that the student body is here for her and that we support her,” Katipamula said during the meeting. 

The ASSU Undergraduate Senate previously pledged $30,000 on Nov. 20 for the event, which ASSU President Erica Scott ’20 and Vice President Isaiah Drummond ’20 are organizing in conjunction with Stanford Speakers Bureau. Katipamula said that event organizers will first need to secure the funding and then make an official proposal to the University before setting in stone the date and venue. 

Katipamula estimated that the funding required to bring Miller to campus would total $40,000. Half of that is set aside as honoraria, a designation that Councilors took issue with. 

“$20,000 is a lot of money for an honorarium,” said second-year law student Chris Middleton. “I’m just a bit concerned about calling that amount of money an honorarium because if it’s a speaker’s fee, I would rather be transparent and say that it’s one.”

Katipamula later acknowledged that the $20,000 was, in fact, a speaker’s fee requested by Miller’s publisher — the ASSU’s definition of honoraria includes speaker’s fees, payment for specific services, gifts for speakers and travel related expenses. In addition to the fee, Miller’s publisher requires that 500 copies of Miller’s memoir, “Know My Name,” be purchased in order to hold a book signing event. Event organizers hope to purchase these 500 books for $8,500 and give them to students who attend for free.

“We would love to purchase the books outright and have them available to students so they understand the history of this campus and what Chanel has experienced,” Katipamula said.

Fourth-year theater and performance studies student Kari Barclay also stated that Stanford should make “Know My Name” available in the Stanford library system to all students who want to read it.

“Every UC Berkeley student has access to this book digitally, and it should be available digitally via Stanford’s libraries,” Barclay said.

Contact Camryn Pak at cpak23 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Camryn Pak '23 is a desk editor for news. She is majoring in American Studies with a focus on Inequality, Media and the Law. Contact her at cpak23 'at' stanford.edu.