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Senate discusses CARES funding, recognizes Denim Day

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The Undergraduate Senate discussed a resolution calling for students to receive support equivalent to the $3.6 million allocated for emergency aid grants in Stanford’s CARES Act emergency funding, which the University declined last week. Senators also passed a resolution supporting Denim Day as part of the call for an end to sexual violence on campus.

Before rescinding its application, Stanford was slated to receive $7.4 million of relief funds under the federal government’s CARES Act, around half of which was allocated towards emergency grants for students with financial hardships. In its Tuesday meeting, senators discussed a resolution introduced by Chaze Vinci ’23 and Neelay Trivedi ’23 that calls for Stanford to match the $3.6 million allocation it would have received from the CARES Act and ensure an equivalent benefit is afforded to students in need.

“Stanford released a statement to their benefit on Twitter and also on their website saying that they would commit to financial aid for students that were covered under [the $3.6 million allocation], but it’s kind of iffy and vague as to how they’re going to be precisely allocating those funds,” Vinci said. “So we want to make sure that our students are kept secure during this time.”

In its statement, Stanford wrote that “since half of these funds were to be directly applied to grants for students, we want to reassure our students that we remain fully committed to the financial aid that has been promised to them.”

“While Stanford declined funding from [the] Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund section of the CARES Act, we will be spending at least as much on emergency financial aid as the $3.7 million formula allocation designated in the act,” wrote Associate Dean and Director of Financial Aid Karen Cooper in a letter published in The Daily on Tuesday night.

Trivedi said that it was “admirable” that Stanford was rescinding its request for federal funding, but criticized the lack of clarity in the University’s communication on how economically vulnerable students would continue to be supported.

“There continue to be significant issues with how students know where their money is being allocated; there’s just no information,” he said. “We think that there should just be a plan released or some sort of formal clarification, whether it’s in the form of student recipients getting [an] email saying, ‘You’ll be covered on this timeline’. We just want a lot more specifics.”

The Senate also unanimously approved a resolution supporting Wednesday’s upcoming Denim Day to raise awareness of sexual violence and encouraged students to participate in the event “as an annual tradition.” 

The Senate also introduced resolutions on student privacy on Zoom by Vinci and Gabriella Garcia ’23 and the retention of Asian American Studies lecturer William Gow by Senate Chair Munira Alimire ’22.

Senators criticized Zoom’s encryption practices and the sharing of data with third-party services and discussed measures the University should take to safeguard student privacy. 

Alimire expressed concern about the vulnerability of Stanford’s Asian American Studies program amid anticipated University-wide reductions in funding. She stressed the importance of retaining Gow, who will be the only lecturer qualified to teach Introduction to Asian American Studies in the next academic year.

The Senate also released its end-of-year report. The 21st Undergraduate Senate allocated $3 million in funding and passed 51 bills and resolutions, highlighted by the creation of the $191,000 ASSU Support Fund to support students affected by COVID-19.

This article was corrected to identify Vinci and Garcia as the co-authors of the resolutions on student privacy, who are not senators. The Daily regrets this error.


Contact Daniel Wu at dwu21 ‘at’ stanford.edu

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Daniel Wu '21 is a Desk Editor for News, and also contributes to Sports, Arts & Life and The Daily's Graphics team. Contact him at dwu21 'at' stanford.edu.