Thursday town hall to address concerns over GOP tax bill

Dec. 6, 2017, 12:57 a.m.

Administrators will speak at a town hall Thursday in response to continued concerns about the negative implications of the GOP’s tax bill — now passed by both houses of Congress — for Stanford and its students.

The Senate’s version of the bill, approved this past weekend, does not include a House provision that cuts tax credits for graduate students. But the final version of the tax bill has not been established, and the House proposal could become law. In its current form, the House bill changes tuition into taxable income and removes student loan interest deductions in a move that could significantly increase graduate students’ financial burdens. Both the Senate and House versions of the bill would also tax university endowments.

At Thursday’s town hall event, hosted by an activism coalition called the Stanford Solidarity Network, Vice Provost for Graduate Education Patti Gumport and Provost Persis Drell will discuss the tax bill and its potential ramifications.

Gumport joined several members of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and the Stanford Solidarity Network in writing a Nov. 28 community email that addressed the tax plan in the days leading up to the Senate bill’s passage.

“We recognize that the pending legislation is highly consequential for its potential to negatively impact individual finances, the university’s ability to continue to provide affordable education and research training of the highest quality to our students, and tuition assistance benefits for university employees, as well as what is at stake for graduate education and for higher education nationally,” the email reads.

The email explains that the University has been collaborating with students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees at Stanford in efforts to fight the tax bills.  Additionally, Stanford is working with others across the country to oppose the measures.

“Communications range from direct engagement with members of Congress and the Executive Branch, to partnering with peer universities, and working with higher education associations to explain exactly what’s at stake if these provisions were to pass,” the email’s authors wrote.

The note promised efforts to “actively advocate against specific provisions and to analyze possible impacts if they end up in the final legislation.”

Nina Horstmann, a Ph.D. student in the department of anthropology and an organizer for the Stanford Solidarity Network, wrote to The Daily that she hopes community members will continue opposing the tax bill before Congress votes on its final version.

“[We want] to get the word out that the fight is not yet over,” Horstmann said. “The final bill hasn’t been resolved.”

The Nov. 28 email thanked students, and in particular members of the GSC and Stanford Solidarity Network, for their attention to the tax legislation. The message encouraged students not yet involved to call their elected representatives and urge their friends and family to do the same.

“We especially applaud the ongoing, active engagement of Stanford graduate students,” the letter states.

Students have engaged in efforts across many platforms to oppose the bill, phone-banking to express their thoughts to members of Congress and participating in national movements spearheaded by groups such as the National Graduate and Professional Student Association.

Despite the University’s statements, Horstmann argued there is more Stanford can do as graduate students face uncertain financial futures, noting that she hasn’t heard details from the University about how it will “ensure that current students can continue and future students can expect the same degree of support.”

Horstmann emphasized the vital role that graduate students play in University life as instructors, researchers and mentors and stressed the potentially serious consequences of the tax bill if it passes.

“Many of us, including myself, would have to drop out if Stanford cannot guarantee to financially protect us against up to 400 percent increase in taxes,” she said.

The town hall with Drell and Gumport will take place on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Havana Room of the Graduate Community Center. All students, faculty, staff and other Stanford community members are welcome.

More information about the tax bill can be found on Stanford’s website.


Contact Sophie Stuber at sstuber8 ‘at’


Sophie Stuber is a senior from Aspen, Colorado, studying International Relations, French and Creative Writing. Sophie has written for the Daily since freshman year . This year, she spends a significant portion of her time working on her thesis, which is about designing an international legal framework to aid people forcibly displaced due to climate change. Aside from academics, Sophie loves reading, writing short stories, listening to NPR, and adventuring outside. Any of her friends will tell you that she loves to talk about the mountains, skiing, Atlantic articles, and Rebecca Solnit essays.

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