GSC keeps the pressure on R&DE over package center and COVID-19 isolation policies

Oct. 7, 2021, 10:27 p.m.

Graduate Student councilors alleged that the new Graduate Package Center (GPC) disproportionately impacts students with disabilities and financial constraints during Wednesday’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) meeting. 

This was the latest in a long line of charged discussions that have taken place between graduate students and Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) following a last-minute switch to a new mail service provider in September.

Councilors acknowledged an improvement at the package center in recent weeks. The new UG2-led package delivery system has sped up its package processing following complaints surrounding initial issues with lost packages, long wait times and a lack of storage capacity. Eighty percent of packages are now picked up within two days of notification, according to internal data shared by R&DE.

Eva de la Serna, a fourth-year graduate student in chemical engineering, said that “there seems to be an improvement from last month’s meeting.”

Yet problems with disability accommodations and lost packages persist. Serna said that the package lockers are too tall for some people to reach. Jasmin Elena Palmer, a third-year Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, also highlighted a lack of hand carts and dollies for carting heavy packages back to dorms. The distance of the GPC from graduate residences also makes the trip untenable for students with disabilities and too time consuming for graduate student workers, according to Palmer.

R&DE officials welcomed suggestions and recommended that students make use of several available accommodations, including golf carts to pick up packages. Students with disabilities can currently request a golf cart to take them to the package center.

Additionally, the Council pressured administrators to reimburse students for the packages lost in the GPC during the early weeks of the switch. “Mail should not be this complicated,” Palmer said.

Councilors also aired grievances about healthy students not being informed about rooms in their residences being used for quarantine and isolation.  Residents in Studio 2 were not informed that the rooms above them were being used for quarantine, according to Cat Sanchez ’19, a third-year sociology Ph.D. candidate. R&DE representatives did not clearly disclose whether residents are informed when rooms near them house COVID quarantine cases. There are a variety of housing options being used for quarantine and isolation, according to a R&DE representative.

The GSC also announced that the Stanford Food Pantry will hold a food drive on Oct. 11 to provide food insecure graduate students with donations of food from the community. Over 600 graduate students — 6% of the graduate student population — have already signed up for boxes.

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