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‘Stanford needs to pay up’: Senators talk fall quarter, $7.4 million University windfall

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The Undergraduate Senate on Tuesday discussed recommendations for how Stanford’s administration should plan for the next academic year and allocate a $7.4 million windfall the University secured from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. No new bills were introduced in the Zoom meeting.

Senator Mià Bahr ’22 proposed that the Senate put together a series of considerations for the University to take into account when considering plans for the next academic year, including hygiene and safety concerns.

“Freshmen dorms are basically like petri dishes,” Bahr said. “And all of us know that there are people who do not know how to do laundry. Sending people back in the middle of a pandemic puts our most vulnerable demographics at risk.”

The University is considering multiple plans for the next academic year, including starting the academic year in the winter. A recommendation about fall quarter will likely be presented to the president and provost next month, according to Fall Planning Task Force co-chair Aron Rodrigue.

Senate Chair Munira Alimire ’22 said recommendations about ways to alleviate financial burdens on students could be included in such a report as well.

“It’s not just going to be [first-generation and/or low-income (FLI)] students who are going to be impacted by this,” Alimire said. “A lot of middle class students are having their parents lose their jobs. There’s going to be a lot of long-term financial impacts.”

Senator Micheal Brown ’22 cited money that the University received from the CARES Act as a potential source of funds for student assistance.

The University received nearly $7.4 million from the CARES Act. Peer institutions like Harvard have pledged to allocate all CARES Act funds to student financial assistance, although President Donald Trump called on Tuesday for Harvard and other large businesses to return CARES Act funds.

Senator Kobe Hopkins ’22 said Stanford could direct funding toward student workers. Bahr added that the University could also guarantee a rehire for all student staff laid off mid-contract and put money toward graduate students with debt.

“We truly are the only people with the privilege to basically grab Persis and everyone else’s ear and be like, ‘Hey, listen to me,’” Bahr said. “Because if you don’t, this is going to be really bad for a very long time.”

Alimire seconded that the funds should be put toward students.

“Stanford needs to pay up,” Alimire said. 

Contact Kate Selig at kselig ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Kate Selig '23 is a news desk editor. Questions, comments, concerns? Send her an email at kselig 'at' stanford.edu.