Public feedback period on ‘Conversations’ steering committee delayed

Nov. 29, 2018, 12:19 a.m.

The University has delayed releasing the draft student leadership structure of the revitalized Cardinal Conversations program to January despite initial plans to hold a public comment period immediately after Thanksgiving break.

“The plan was to release a draft proposal for the future of the program during week nine for students’ review and comment,” Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole wrote in an email to The Daily. “The timeline has been revised and the faculty committee now anticipates a release of the proposal in January so as to avoid overlap with the approaching finals period.”

Brubaker-Cole said the decision to delay “arose out of discussions between the faculty [advisors] and student groups involved” and that the student groups are currently reviewing a draft before providing feedback to the advisors.

Following the codification of the student steering committee, it — alongside the faculty committee — will oversee the Conversations program. According to Associate Vice President for University Communications Brad Hayward ’92, “decisions about … topics, speakers and program format are the purview of the student [and] faculty committee.

The Conversations program, a controversial lecture series founded last year, is operating under new leadership following the departure of former faculty leaders Niall Ferguson and Michael McFaul — the former amid scandal, the latter for still-unexplained reasons.

The program now has three faculty advisors: Thomas Gilligan, director of the Hoover Institution; law professor Deborah Rhode; and Claude Steele, professor emeritus of psychology and dean emeritus of the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Three student organizations — the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU), the Stanford Political Union (SPU) and Stanford in Government (SIG) — are helping design the new student committee, Brubaker-Cole said. She told The Daily via email that the “ASSU [executive leadership] continues to be involved.”

However, ASSU President Shanta Katipamula ’19 said the executives are “not the ones designing the new model” and that SPU and SIG are taking the lead.

In the series’ inaugural year, the student steering committee included the ASSU, SPU and SIG as well as student publications like The Stanford Sphere and The Stanford Review. However, the makeup of the committee was criticized by some as right-leaning and procedurally opaque.

The new makeup will likely include nine or 10 students representing ideological and political diversity as well as “diversity in backgrounds [and] identities,” Brubaker-Cole said.


Contact Brian Contreras at brianc42 ‘at’

Brian Contreras was the Daily's Investigations Editor during the '19-'20 school year. Before that, he was a Managing Editor of the news section. A graduate of Stanford's class of 2020, he studied Science, Technology, and Society with a minor in Anthropology. Brian hails from Washington, DC and is pursuing a career in tech journalism. Contact him at briancontreras42 'at'

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