GSC blasts Trump-proposed visa policy, debates parking rules

Oct. 1, 2020, 12:10 a.m.

“It’s bonkers. It’s a huge problem for a lot of students who come to campus to work or who have partners who come and visit,” said Sanna Ali, a Graduate Student Council (GSC) representative and fourth year Ph.D. student in communication.

Ali was voicing concerns about new policies that require payment for parking at night and on weekends as well as prohibit visitor parking within the Academic Campus Zone during Wednesday’s GSC meeting.

The recent changes mark a departure from the former policy of allowing students to park for free during those times. According to the Stanford Transportation website, students without a Stanford parking permit who park on campus on weekends will begin receiving notices with an anticipated parking charge. In addition, visitors are now permitted to park only between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and many of the lots available to visitors are under construction, GSC representative K.C. Shah J.D. ’22 said. According to the website, the policy was changed in an effort to minimize the presence of non-essential visitors on campus in response to California Department of Health Guidance.

Brooks Benard, a GSC representative and fourth year Ph.D. student in cancer biology, said that the parking fees disproportionately affect graduate students who have late night or weekend research shifts. The GSC plans to propose granting students virtual permits that cover time that used to be available as free parking, as well as offering students the opportunity to buy parking passes for certain visitors who want to park on campus. Ali said she saw these ideas as more equitable solutions to the problem of unwelcome visitors on campus.

Stanford updated its new parking policy to allow anyone with a university login to register online to park in A and C lots on campus after 4 p.m. and on weekends for free, according to an email sent to Biomedical Association for the Interest of Minority Students (BioAIMS) Wednesday night. The new system is expected to be ready by mid-next week, and any student who receives a parking ticket on the weekend or after 4 p.m. can dispute the violation and be reimbursed the fee.

“My only remaining concern would be whether Stanford affiliates will be able to register an essential visitor’s car in addition to (not instead of) their own car,” Ali said in an email to The Daily following the policy change.

GSC members voted unanimously to confirm Chris Middleton ’16 J.D. ’21 as Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) vice president. Council Co-Chair Kari Barclay said that he is enthusiastic about bringing Middleton, a former member of the GSC, into the role. Middleton is currently awaiting confirmation from the Undergraduate Senate.

“It was a great experience working with [Middleton] on the GSC, and I think it is really important to have graduate voices like his on [the executive team],” Barclay said.

Members also discussed a need for student action in response to a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy proposal which would shorten visa stays from four years to two for students coming from countries that are on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list or that have “high visa overstay rates.” 

According to GSC representatives, this policy could endanger the education of many Stanford graduate students by threatening their visas and putting them at risk for deportation.

Barclay said that the process by which the countries are chosen is “highly discriminatory” because it classifies overstay rates by percentages, affecting African countries that send very low numbers of students. The GSC plans to initiate a student message campaign and coordinate with other universities to emphasize the need for students to send comments, written dissents of the policy, to the DHS on or before Oct. 26. The DHS is required to read all unique comments before the policy goes into effect.

“The more individual letters that they get that are individually worded, the more they have to take our voices into account and potentially the process will take longer before the DHS can implement such a disastrous policy,” Barclay said.

This article has been updated to reflect that the campus parking policy has changed, now allowing anyone with a University login to register to park in A and C lots for extended hours for free.

Contact Tammer Bagdasarian at tbag ‘at’

Tammer Bagdasarian '24 is a News Managing Editor at The Daily, and is planning to major in Communication and Political Science. Contact the news sections at news 'at'

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