GSC talks funding, SSE scandal

March 12, 2016, 2:55 p.m.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) met Wednesday to discuss a variety of issues. In the meeting, the GSC approved a ballot measure that would ask graduate students to pay a higher student fee, discussed the recent scandal at Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE), approved funding for student groups and deliberated on two resolutions.

Funding concerns

Three student groups sought funding: SUAVE, the Stanford Polish Student Association and Belgica. All three groups received unanimous approval for their funding requests.

GSC member Sam Bydlon Ph.D. ’17 presented a bill proposing that graduate student fees be raised by $15 a year. The GSC is presently paying for part of its operations with its reserves in a manner that will eventually exhaust that fund.

GSC member Isamar Rosa Ph.D. ‘18 cited the controversy regarding SSE and expressed concern that graduate students would ask why the budget shortfall was less than the compensation of SSE CEO Frederik Groce ‘14. Rosa questioned if this was the right year to bring up the fee increase.

GSC chair Gabriel Rodriguez ‘14 Ph.D. ‘16 countered that this was a separate issue and noted that SSE is a separate business from the GSC.

Bydlon stated that the fee increase bill should be re-requested next year if it fails to pass this year. Bydlon added that the GSC’s reserve will be drawn down if fees are not raised soon, concluding that it was important for the GSC to maintain its reserve funds.

GSC Member Terence Theisen said that year-over-year data would be helpful in showing increase in student group funding since the GSC began drawing on its reserves. Dorian Bertsch was concerned that the GSC would not be able to explain to voters why the fee increase was merited.

After a long discussion regarding the increases in spending, the GSC voted unanimously in favor of putting the fee increase on the ballot.

Badica said it was important for GSC members to reach out to the graduate students about the fee increase.

Resolutions on sexual assault and Malala Yousafzai

The GSC proceeded to discuss a proposed resolution to recommend to Malala Yousafzai that she attend Stanford, which prompted concerns among some GSC members.

Theisen worried that asking specific people to attend Stanford would be a slippery slope. Sean Means question whether the GSC had the authority to make the resolution. Jia was concerned about the slippery slope as well and argued that “every Stanford student is unique.” Jia thought that it was wrong to write resolutions for some members of the potential class of 2021 and not for other members of that class.

However, Rodriguez and Bydlon disagreed with the concerns. Bydlon stated that he wrote the resolution intending to be funny, without trying to pressure Yousafzai into attending Stanford.

Bertsch said that he was concerned the GSC’s reputation might be impacted if they were perceived as working on such motions instead of tackling more pressing issues.

Bydlon responded that he deliberately introduced his resolution the same week as a resolution on sexual assault.

Bydlon’s second resolution made a series of recommendations about sexual assault prevention. Bydlon stressed this was shaped by feedback from Stanford’s administration and was not intended as a criticism.

The resolution recommended that undergraduates undergo mandatory sexual assault training sessions during their first year of undergraduate study. Bydlon added that graduate students should be required to undergo online training related to sexual violence. The resolution asks that such training occur during each graduate student’s first year at Stanford.

The resolution additionally calls upon Stanford to change its definitions of sexual assault, misconduct and relationship violence and asks the University to establish a committee to collect student feedback and improve the campus climate survey.

Martin expressed concern that the resolution might contribute to the ballooning of administrative staff on campus and asked why a different office, such as the Title IX office, could not take on the functions of the SARA office.

The resolution will receive further discussion in the next GSC meeting.

Other items

Badica reported that there would be several social events for graduate students during spring quarter. These include a Speed Friending event on April 7 at the Alumni Center, an information session on how to find off-campus housing, a GSC De-Stress Day and the GSC Grad Formal.

The GSC also discussed the transition to its new session next quarter.

As of the time of the meeting, some graduate schools did not have candidates standing for next year’s GSC.

A previously introduced measure to reform the budget modification process for annual grants was approved.

One GSC member asked about the SSE scandal in the meeting.

Ateeq Suria Ph.D. ‘17, Chairman of the Board of SSE, replied that SSE is trying to determine what information must be kept confidential under labor law. Suria said that Groce had submitted his resignation, adding that the controversy regarding a position that Groce allegedly created for his  girlfriend had been resolved. Suria reported that SSE had ended its conflict of interest investigation into Groce due to his resignation.

Suria declined to inform the GSC who is running the day-to-day operations of SSE.

Bertsch took issue with the closure of the investigation following Groce’s resignation.

Bydlon emphasized that the SSE endowment is not funded by student fees. The salaries of SSE members were not made public.

Martin asked if GSC members could sign a nondisclosure agreement and view the salary information for SSE employees. Rosa noted the GSC never got an orientation on what SSE is and that she did not know where SSE’s profits went.

The lack of available information related to SSE concerned some members of the GSC, which maintains oversight authority over SSE.


Contact Caleb Smith at caleb17 ‘at’

Caleb Smith '17 is a Desk Editor from Oakland, California and is majoring in public policy. Outside the Daily, Caleb is Director of news at KZSU Stanford, the campus radio station. Have a tip or suggestion? Please contact him at caleb17 ‘at’

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