GSC asks University to modify transfer credit policies and extend retirement benefits

Nov. 11, 2020, 10:42 p.m.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) unanimously passed resolutions endorsing a proposed modification to transfer credit policies and extending retirement plan benefits to graduate students at its Wednesday night meeting. 

The transfer credit resolution, presented by Glen Husman ’23, would encourage the University to allow up to 15 units of transfer credits (earned during the pandemic) from other accredited universities. These 15 credits would not count toward the 45-unit limit on transfer credits. The criteria for eligible courses is unaffected by the proposed modifications. 

“Additional academic flexibility provides … an essential benefit to students in these unprecedented times, especially those dealing with pandemic-related personal, health, familial, timezone-related and financial challenges,” the resolution states.  It passed unanimously and will be considered by the Faculty Senate. 

The GSC also passed a resolution on University retirement policies, encouraging the University to provide employee-contribution tax-sheltered annuity plans, otherwise known as 403(b) plans, to graduate students, after wording changes were made to address concerns discussed at the council’s last meeting. 

Council co-chair Kari Barclay, a fifth-year theater and performance studies Ph.D. student, said with the passage of the resolution, he would follow up on extending the retirement benefits with Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs Stacey Bent. Stanford already offers 403(b) plans to postdoctoral students. 

The council also discussed a resolution introduced in the Undergraduate Senate in solidarity with the #ENDSARS movement. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Nigeria has been widely decried for its abuses of power and police brutality. The resolution, sponsored by the Stanford Nigerian Students Association (NAIJA), calls for academic accommodations and support for students impacted by the events in Nigeria, as well as a statement of solidarity from the University. 

Barclay said that based on historical precedent, while it was unlikely the University would take a formal stance on international issues, it was within the prerogative of the Associated Students of Stanford University to offer support to affected students. The council will vote on the resolution next week. 

Councilor Yiqing Ding M.S. ’18, a fifth-year mechanical engineering Ph.D. student, said he was hesitant to support the resolution, particularly the call for the University to take a formal stance, without more details on the issue. 

Ding said he “doubts the integrity of the news media on international topics” and is against intervening in foreign countries as the “international perspective of U.S. news media is totally different from their domestic perspective.”

Barclay said he would reach out to the resolution’s authors and sponsors in the Undergraduate Senate, including NAIJA, for more context.

The Council also discussed the University’s reiteration of its plans to invite about half of the undergraduate population to campus for winter quarter. Barclay said that there were a lot of “causes for anxiety” and while the GSC has released communication encouraging testing and compliance with university policies, “there’s so much more to do.” 

Residential & Dining Enterprises representatives said that in consideration of factors like the rising COVID-19 cases at the county level, plans were subject to change, a possibility the University has held open even as it moves forward with its current plans.

Contact Kaushikee Nayudu at knayudu ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Kaushikee Nayudu '24 is a staff writer for The Daily. Contact her at knayudu ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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