GSC votes to make Carta an ASSU service organization

May 20, 2021, 12:36 a.m.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) unanimously passed a resolution to make Carta an Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) service organization at its Wednesday meeting. Councilors also weighed whether to recommend making both undergraduate and graduate school admissions test-optional.

As the Carta resolution has already passed the Undergraduate Senate, the resolution is effective now, and the Carta team and the ASSU will soon articulate the details of the partnership in a memorandum of understanding, councilors said. 

The data-driven course evaluation platform was previously hosted by Stanford Pathways Lab, but a lack of University funding drew student concern in November that the site would be shut down. Councilors said the ASSU service organization designation could help keep Carta online.

“I think it’s a great resource, and if the Pathways Lab is jettisoning it then we should house it somewhere else,” said Emily Schell M.A. ’18, a third-year developmental and psychological sciences Ph.D. student.

The councilors also discussed resolutions urging the University to make undergraduate and graduate admissions test-optional. The resolutions recommend institutionalizing test-optional policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, making SAT and ACT scores for undergraduates optional in the admissions process. 

The GSC had previously passed a similar resolution in support of making the GRE test permanently optional. Though the University did accept the GRE at-home test and some programs lifted the GRE requirement for graduate students in the 2020-21 application cycle, it did not make the GRE permanently test-optional, as the council had recommended.

While the new councilors will review the resolutions before voting on them next week, Schell, who studies higher education, and Gabriela Basel, a second-year chemical engineering Ph.D. student, both said they supported a policy to exclude tests in admissions processes.

Council co-chair Sanna Ali, a fourth-year communications Ph.D. student, added that it was unlikely the Faculty Senate would approve a policy completely eliminating tests and the resolution advocating for test-optional policies was about “incremental change.” Basel and Ali agreed that the resolutions could be a step towards a policy of removing test scores completely from the admissions process. 

While the councilors that spoke at the meeting broadly expressed support for test-optional policies, councilor Tim Vrakas ’21 M.S. ’22 cautioned that if standardized testing was replaced by a Stanford-specific examination, “that isn’t necessarily better [and] you might end up in a worse place” because there would be “a smaller sample size and less opportunity to check for biases.”  

The council will vote on the joint resolutions next week. If passed by both the Undergraduate Senate and the council, they will be sent to the Faculty Senate for consideration.

This article has been updated to reflect that not all graduate programs were test-optional in the 2020-21 application cycle. The Daily regrets this error.

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

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