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Top administrators field calls for Opportunity Fund expansion, academic accommodations during listening session

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Students asked the University for an expansion of Opportunity Fund eligibility, academic accommodations and a more concrete response to anti-Black racism at a listening session hosted by the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) and Student Affairs on Wednesday.

With about 30 audience members in attendance, panelists included Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole, Associate Vice Provost Emelyn dela Peña and ASSU Executive President Vianna Vo ’21. 

Lizzie Avila ’23, a member of Stanford’s Basic Needs Coalition (BNC) who has written for The Daily, shared her own difficulty with supporting herself after campus closed last spring, arguing that eligibility for institutional resources needs to be revised and expanded to include students on a leave of absence. According to Avila, the Basic Needs Fund, a fund created by the BNC to source community and institutional support to meet the needs of Stanford students, has received requests adding up to over $100,000. 24% of applicants also applied for the Opportunity Fund, a University fund that assists first generation and/or low income (FLI) students, but did not have their requests covered.

“You aren’t not a member of the Stanford community just because you decided not to take classes for a quarter,” Avila said. “I think that at a school with this many resources, there should still be institutional support for everyone.” 

ASSU spokesperson Cricket X. Bidleman ’21 and international student Darryl Thompson ’23 asked University representatives present for support for international students who are struggling to attend classes and office hours due to time zone differences. Bidleman added that she believes the current grading system is unfair because it fails to take into consideration complications like the difference in time zones and accessibility to technology. 

In her response to Thompson, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Sarah Church said that Student Affairs is “trying to pressure” classes to provide recordings and “make them aware of the damage they’re doing.”

Mohammad Gumma ’22 called on Stanford to provide a concrete response to anti-Black racism and reiterated the call for the departmentalization of African and African American Studies. Brubaker-Cole said she would be meeting soon with representatives from the Black Graduate Student Association to discuss departmentalization.

Vo shared a personal story about being handcuffed her frosh year while being hospitalized for a mental health crisis. Brubaker-Cole said she has been involved in conversations for several months with the Department of Public Safety, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Vaden Health regarding involuntary psychiatric holds and responding to mental health crises without punitive measures or law enforcement. 

“We would like to put more of a student care function ahead of any sort of intervention that involves law enforcement and I think that there’s a really strong possibility that we can get there in this year,” Brubaker-Cole said.

The ASSU will hold two more listening sessions on Thursday and Friday mornings.

A previous version of this article misspelled Mohammad Gumma’s name. The Daily regrets this error.

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Michaela Guo is a staff writer in the News section. She is a freshman and plans to study Human Biology and Asian American studies. Contact her at mguo ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.