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‘Rent plus Ramen equals stipend’: Twenty years later, Stanford’s graduate student crisis persists

In 1998, nearly one thousand Stanford graduate students staged a rally and camp-in protesting unaffordable campus housing options and financial insecurity. In the cold and rain of night, they pitched tents in the middle of Main Quad and covered them in signs that read, “Look Mom, no housing” and “Rent plus Ramen equals stipend.” Over 20 years later, the issues they raised continue to create significant hardship for many.

Correcting the record on ResX

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.

Uninformed and uninvolved: ResX and the dystopian future of undergraduate housing

Monied clusters of Greek organizations, geographically segregated ethnic houses, and nepotistic, thematically-lifeless Row houses plague Stanford’s housing system, bemoan University administrators. Stanford has consequently adopted the belief that a vast overhaul of campus housing is the cure-all for these ills: the University’s ResX Task Force — a branch of Residential Education (ResEd), has recently been discussing what they call “the ideal neighborhood concept.” Substantive details on this proposed housing restructure are scarce. Nonetheless, we believe it would be useful to infer what the consequences of such systematic changes might be.