GSC talks coronavirus, Senate election amendment

March 4, 2020, 11:06 p.m.

Councilors expressed concern over coronavirus at the Wednesday Graduate Student Council (GSC) meeting, which was held as a teleconference in response to the virus outbreak. 

They passed a bill, “Re-Establish the Senate as a Continuous Body,” which was previously approved by the Undergraduate Senate and will be added to the ASSU Spring Election ballot as an amendment for the student body to approve. The amendment would give an advantage to returning senators. The annual reelection of the entire senate each year “decreases the productivity” of the body, according to the bill. 

The amendment would replace the “upperclass” district — which reserves three spots on the Senate for sophomore, junior and senior candidates — and give incumbent candidates priority for these seats instead. In the event that there are no returning candidates, upperclass students will have the advantage. 

On coronavirus, council co-chair and fourth-year mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Yiqing Ding said the “official ASSU position right now is not to advocate for the full cancellation of classes but to raise awareness to the faculty members and be included in the decision-making process as it elevates.”

Ding cited frustration with what he sees as a lack of information communicated by the University to both the GSC and the student body.

“It hasn’t been very efficient at all,” he said. “We want to be included in the decision-making process because a lot of times the student voices actually matter in these cases, because we are all part of campus.”

Eric Montell, executive director of dining at Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE), told councilors that R&DE is improving sanitation in dining halls, with increased training on the cleaning of dining utensils, as well as vigilance regarding the restriction of entrance to dining halls to solely University community members. 

Montell said that signage would be posted in the following days encouraging hand washing before eating and the hand sanitizer use. All dining halls will be offering to-go containers for students who are feeling unwell, as well as a sick meal delivery program, in an effort to minimize the number of sick students in campus dining facilities, Montell added.

Imogen Hinds, executive director of housing at R&DE, said similar procedures would be implemented in campus housing, with increased sanitation measures including providing disinfectant spray for students and increased cleaning of “high-touch” areas like doorknobs and handrails. 

Councilors discussed the possibility of cancelling events such as Grad Formal and the Chanel Miller lecture scheduled for April 29 in response to coronavirus concerns. Literature, culture and languages Ph.D. candidate Gabby Badica recommended cancelling Grad Formal. 

“I really do hope it’s an overreaction and come May, everybody’s fine and the world is in a better place … but it’s too unknown, there’s too much unknown,” Badica said.  

Ding decided the Council would postpone voting on any changes to future events until next week. 

Councilors also passed the “Joint Resolution in Support of Divesting Stanford’s Endowment from Fossil Fuel Companies,” according to Julia Neusner, one of the bill’s authors. The bill resolves that two students be appointed to the Special Committee on Investment Responsibility, and calls on the University to “commit to freezing all new investment in the top 100 oil and gas companies” and “commit to fully divesting from publicly traded companies within 90 days of commitment and private partnerships within the next 5 years.” Neusner said that “publicly traded companies” is meant to refer to publicly traded oil and gas companies. 

Councilors briefly discussed two other bills, one being a “Bill to Amend the Rules of Order of the Constitutional Council,” which would clarify the election and duties of the chair in all legislative bodies, as well as the process of enforcement of decisions made by legislative bodies. The other, a “Bill to Establish a Librarian of the ASSU” which would create the position of “The Librarian of the ASSU.” Both are set to be voted on at next week’s meeting. 

A previous version of the article incorrectly stated that Gabby Badica is GSC Social Committee Co-Chair. She no longer holds that position. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Ella Booker at ebooker ‘at’

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