Weekend Roundup email newsletter: April 26 edition

April 26, 2020, 10:26 a.m.

Our Weekend Roundup is released on Sunday mornings during the school year and features an engaging rundown of the news from the previous week in the form of a briefing. It also includes editors’ picks from other sections. Subscribe here to receive emails like this.

Weekend Roundup email newsletter: April 26 edition


Building 10, where the offices of the president and provost are located
The University, originally projected to finish the year with a $126 million surplus, is now facing a $200 million reversal in consolidated budget due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sources of the disparity include changes to spring quarter financial aid and a decline in endowment payouts, according to the Stanford Board of Trustees.

Economic uncertainty and the lack of a definitive timeline for resuming in-person operations have slowed financial planning, but Provost Persis Drell told the Faculty Senate that the University needs to “prepare for perhaps the worst.” Though she said the budget outlooks remain uncertain, she noted that Stanford is asking all University units to prepare for “a 15% reduction in endowment payout and 10% reduction in general funds.”

On Wednesday, the University announced that it had asked the U.S. Department of Education to rescind its application for relief funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which would have granted Stanford almost $7.4 million in aid from the federal government. Stanford’s announcement, citing a desire to prioritize aid for smaller colleges and universities, came one one day after President Donald Trump criticized Harvard and other large institutions for seeking federal funding.
A sign directing people to 'COVID-19 antibody testing' is attached to traffic cones in a parking lot.
Statisticians are questioning the math behind a recent Stanford study, which made headlines last week after preliminary findings estimated the true number of COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County could be 50 to 85 times higher than the count of confirmed infections as of early April.

The study relied on antibody testing, in which the presence of specific antibodies confirms that a person either has COVID-19 or has recovered from the disease. Out of the 3,330 samples analyzed, 50 came back positive, indicating a crude prevalence rate of 1.5%. After adjusting by demographics and test accuracy, researchers’ preliminary findings estimated that between 2.49 and 4.16% of people in the county were infected as of early April.

But statisticians at Stanford and across the country are raising questions about sampling bias and statistical errors in the study’s design, including narrow confidence intervals in estimates and the potential for false positives. These factors, they contend, could make the results of the study less meaningful or even misleading, and criticism on Twitter has ranged from gentle to scathing.
UG2 office on Stanford's campus
Union representatives and activists say Stanford was misleading in its April 14 announcement that it would help contract firms maintain pay continuation through June 15. For UG2 — a national custodial service with which Stanford contracts — the University has offered only to help provide health insurance to subcontracted employees, according to Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California 1st Vice President Denise Solis.

At a press conference on Thursday, laid-off subcontracted workers, union representatives, students and alumni — including former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro ’96 and Rep. Joaquin Castro ’96 (D-Tex.) — called on Stanford to expand protections for all University-affiliated employees through the end of the quarter.

In response, a University spokesperson told The Daily that “the University “remain[s] committed to working with the contract firms,” but he didn’t elaborate on Stanford’s previous announcement.

Donald Kennedy, then commissioner of the U.S. FDA, gives Stanford's 1978 commencement speech.
For the latest coronavirus updates, follow along with The Daily’s live blog, which includes a map of confirmed cases and a timeline of Stanford’s response to the outbreak.

  • Former Stanford president Donald Kennedy, who led the University from 1980 through 1992, died of COVID-19 on Tuesday morning.

  • Stanford will commission a committee to review requests to rename Jordan Hall and remove a statue outside the building due to their namesakes’ ties to eugenics and polygenism.

  • Leya Elias ’21 and Nik Marda ’21 were named Truman Scholars. This year, the Truman Scholarship Foundation selected 62 students from 55 institutions for the honor.

  • Stanford tight end Colby Parkinson was picked by the Seattle Seahawks at No. 133 in the 2020 NFL Draft, and fifth-year edge rusher Casey Toohill was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 233rd pick in the draft.

    The Gates Computer Science Building
    For The Daily’s Data Team, Sophie Andrews graphs trends in undergraduate majors across the 2010s. In Opinions, Jason Zhao cautions that building new products or technologies isn’t always the answer to complex societal problems. In The Grind, Zohar Levy reflects on a change in perspective gained from family hardship amid quarantine. For Arts & Life, Jocelyn Chen rewatches classic musicals on YouTube, and Mark York and Nitish Vaidyanathan review three more movies to stream in quarantine. And in Satire, Tanya Watarastaporn gets to the bottom of Stanford’s latest security update: The University will replace two-step authentication with anal print ID by 2021.

  • President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Persis Drell and School of Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor will discuss Stanford Medicine’s work in response to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

  • The Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Office invites Stanford students to participate in Denim Day on social media, sharing photos and conversations about how to prevent sexual violence and protect survivors.

  • Hoover Institution senior fellow Larry Diamond will discuss COVID-19’s impact on worldwide democracy as part of Hoover’s virtual policy briefing series on Thursday.

  • Take Back The Night, an event to raise awareness about sexual violence, will feature speakers, poetry and healing activities in a live broadcast on Thursday.

    Have an event you’d like featured in next week’s roundup? Let us know at [email protected].

    Drawing by Grind contributor Helena Zhang
    “I’m from a comparatively privileged background in Ecuador, but my parents immigrated from Colombia, and every year we go back to visit. During these moments, I live a very different lifestyle from the one here in the U.S. It just reminds me of where my family came from and how much they sacrificed. I’ve been able to see more impoverished conditions than most other people here, and this is part of the reason why I care about it more than others, I think. If anybody could see the things that I have, global poverty would matter much more to them.”

    For more on Felipe Calero ’22 and the full “Humans of Stanford” project, please visit @stanforddaily on Instagram.
    That’s all for this roundup. Though The Daily is suspending its print edition, we’ll continue to bring you updates on coronavirus, online spring and more through our email newsletters, social media platforms and our website, stanforddaily.com.
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