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Councilor resigns from GSC amid FLI Office leadership dispute

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Second-year law student Christopher Middleton ’16 announced he would resign from the Graduate Student Council (GSC) amid a dispute over leadership of the First-Generation and/or Low-Income (FLI) Office. Student leaders in the office recently circulated a petition — which garnered more than 800 signatures — calling for FLI Office Associate Director Jennifer Rolen to be instated as the office’s director, saying a committee had passed over her candidacy for the role.

In their Wednesday meeting, GSC councilors had been slated to vote on Middleton’s “Resolution to Form Permanent Community Centers for the FLI and Disability Communities,” but Middleton withdrew the resolution. 

Middleton, co-president of the Stanford FLI Alumni Network, also announced that he would resign from the GSC and step back from his involvement in University affairs. Middleton is a member of the Committee of 10, a group considering the University’s judicial process.

“Because of things happening within the FLI Office and the hiring decisions regarding Jennifer Rolen, I’ve decided to really step away from a lot of my major involvement on campus, one of those things being aboard the GSC,” Middleton said.

Councilors also discussed inequity in access to funding for student organizations, citing the difficulty in obtaining Voluntary Student Organization (VSO) status. 

Councilor and fourth-year J.D./M.A. candidate Julia Neusner called for all restrictions on groups eligible for VSO status to be reexamined. Neusner described difficulties for master’s students in particular, citing regulations against graduating students from founding new organizations. 

“Master’s students in their first year, who are getting their bearings and learning how to work here, can form organizations,” Neusner said. “But master’s students in their second year, who are in a better position, arguably, to create an organization, cannot.” 

“I think this process discriminates against master’s students who are here for a year or two years, and I think master’s students aren’t really contemplated when processes here are designed,” Neusner said. 

Council co-chair and fourth-year mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Yiqing Ding responded by defending the application process, bringing up potential liability concerns in VSOs’ hosting of events on, and citing the importance of training VSO leaders.

Ding announced plans to organize a town hall for international students. 

ASSU Appropriations Committee Chair and Undergraduate Senator Tim Vrakas ’21 briefly discussed a bill “Re-Establish the Senate as a Continuous Body,” which would put an amendment on the ASSU Spring Election Ballot. That amendment would change Undergraduate Senators’ terms to two years. Vrakas said both the Senate and the GSC would need to approve putting the amendment on the ballot.

Representatives from Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) announced the impending release of rates for Escondido Village Graduate Housing (EVGR), which they predicted would be available for students by the end of the week. 

Contact Ella Booker at ebooker ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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