Graduate students pack activism meeting

Jan. 22, 2017, 11:46 p.m.

At a packed meeting, attendees learned about ways of joining a growing graduate student activist community, such as by advocating for increased diversity in graduate admissions and departments.

Sam Maull, a doctoral student in anthropology, organized the meeting. Speakers focused on issues of particular interest to graduate students, such as diversity in graduate admissions. Several larger movements such as Stanford Sanctuary Now and #AgainstHate were also represented.          

During a breakout session, attendees noted that undergraduates generally knew more about organizing.

“We are a sleeping giant on this campus,” Maull said. “There are 6 to 9,000 of us on this campus, and we don’t speak.”

Though an Inauguration Day protest, also organized by graduate students, occurred earlier that day, speakers stressed the importance of continued involvement.

“What good does protesting and marching do,” said Alan Ceaser, postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, speaking for #AgainstHate. “We have to stay committed past the march and the rally.”

“We need to put in the work to create a body to hold the administration accountable for things they are doing and the things they are not doing,” added Alejandro Schuler, a third-year Ph.D. student in biomedical informatics.

Schuller has served on a committee that advises graduate admissions for the School of Medicine. He expressed frustration at what he views as a risk-averse administration and perceived that he was “chewed out” for changes he suggested to his advisory committee.

Isaac Sevier M.S. ʼ17, concurred with Schuller, emphasizing that the department-by-department nature of graduate admissions may not always prioritize the diversity of applicants.

Sevier, who spoke on behalf of the Science Action Committee, noted that STEM fields in particular are not as diverse, and suggested changing the admissions process to explicitly acknowledge diversity.

Beyond issues more specific to graduate life, the meeting also included speakers from a sexual assault activism group on campus and Stanford Sanctuary Now.

Students looking to join organizing efforts within the graduate student community may contact stanfordgradwalkout ‘at’ for more information.

This article has been updated. In a previous version, Isaac Sevier’s last name was misspelled, and he was mis-identified as a Ph.D. student. A potential change to the admissions process, asking applicants to describe what “diversity” means to them, was misattributed to Sevier. The Stanford Daily regrets these errors.

Contact Miguel Samano at msamano ‘at’

Miguel Samano is an opinions editor majoring in Comparative Literature and Chicanx-Latinx Studies. He loves sleeping, drinking night coffee, seeking out new books to read, and eating tacos with friends.

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