On June 9, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution to push the University to expand affordable housing for the Stanford community. The Senate also ended the year by thanking departing figures and introducing the incoming ones.
The resolution pushed the University to expand on-campus housing and provide transportation options to help all Stanford staff reasonably commute to campus. In particular, the resolution called for Stanford to provide all graduate students with housing, whether on-campus or subsidized off-campus housing. The resolution was proposed by Russell Berman, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities and chair of the Policy and Planning Board (PPB).
According to Berman, Stanford has and will continue to have a housing crisis due to the overall conditions of the Bay Area housing market. This housing crisis affects everyone in the Stanford community, including the faculty, students and staff.
In the report, Berman stated that there are a significant number of graduate students who live in either on-campus or University-subsidized, off-campus housing. Right now, due to the Escondido Housing projects, it seems that there will be more on-campus housing for graduate students, but there are a projected 2500 students who will not get any housing assistance of any kind, as the University expects to phase out any subsidized off-campus housing guarantees with on-campus housing.
“I want us to house our graduate students, or at least those who want to be housed on campus, in an affordable way,” Berman said.
In addition to the student housing problem, Berman emphasized that a good housing package is key to competitive faculty recruitment. This opinion was strongly echoed throughout the Senate, as many members recollected that prospective faculty rejected joining Stanford due to housing issues. For instance, computer science professor Jennifer Widom stated that two professors from the School of Engineering have resigned this year from their positions at Stanford when offered positions and better housing packages from other universities.
Berman also mentioned housing difficulties for postdoctoral students and Stanford staff. Although postdocs are critical to Stanford’s function as a research enterprise, none of the postdocs have any subsidies or assistance from Stanford regarding housing. Since these postdocs are often starting families, Berman mentioned that the PPB recommends that Stanford should open itself to discussion regarding the postdoc housing issue.
According to Berman, Stanford has already done a lot to ameliorate its housing crisis and emphasized that the PPB’s recommendations were aspirational given the prohibitively high costs of housing.
The PPB also recommended that the University look into expanding transportation services to help staff have more reasonable commute times. Currently, many staff make commutes over two hours long each way.
Introductions and Farewells
Towards the end of the meeting, James Campbell, history professor and vice chair of the Faculty Senate, sent the Faculty Senate chair Kathryn Moler off by singing “I’ve Grown Accustomed to This Place,” a spin-off of My Fair Lady’s “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”
In the song, Campbell reflected on the work the Faculty Senate did over the past year, focusing particularly on Moler. He also thanked President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy.
“A fond adieu to John Hennessy/On your achievements I’ll agree/And Provost Etchemendy/There’s one thing you should know/Your budget powerpoints are dazzling/Do one more before you go,” Campbell sang.
Along with the farewells, ASSU President Jackson Beard ’17 introduced herself and her chief of staff, Rachel Samuels ’17, to the Faculty Senate. Beard also outlined the ASSU executive body’s plans for the year.
“We have a lot of big plans for the coming year,” Beard said. “We are going to talk about a lot of issues… mental health and wellness, issues of sexual assault and relationship violence on campus….environmental justice and community building, social safety and things like that.”
Contact Christina Pan at capan ‘at’ stanford.edu.