GSC voices concerns over meal plans of coterm RAs

Nov. 4, 2021, 12:48 a.m.

Members of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) addressed concerns from coterm Resident Assistants (RAs) about the high cost of their meal plans during the GSC’s Wednesday meeting. 

Since graduate students do not have access to the same financial aid as undergraduates, several coterm RAs who are staffing undergraduate dorms expressed frustration that they are being forced to pay for an undergraduate meal plan that is about $1,200 more than a comparable plan for graduate students, according to organizers. Meal plans are typically determined by a student’s residence, and this is the first year in which students completing a coterminal degree — where the completion of their bachelor’s degree leads directly into a graduate masters program — are staffing undergraduate housing. 

“I think this is an issue that [administrators] did not think about before,” said councilmember Tim Vrakas ’21 M.S. ’22, who is also a member of The Daily’s Board of Directors. “I am hopeful and expectant that the administration sees that this is a problem and corrects it.”

Chloe Glikbarg ’21 M.S. ’22 expressed that it was “rather upsetting” to see the coterm RAs, many of whom agreed to these roles when the administration was desperate for staffers, being “punished financially.”

RA Shiriel King Abramson ’20 M.A. ’22 is one of the authors of a petition calling on the University to allow coterm RAs to access graduate meal plans. 

“Coterm RAs are getting the short end of the stick from the University, but there’s a simple fix for the problem,” Abramson said. “I’m grateful we have the GSC backing it up.”

A representative from Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) present at the meeting told the Council that the meal plans of coterm RAs are handled by Student Affairs, not R&DE.

A University spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Members of the GSC also voiced concerns over the unexpectedly low number of students who signed up to both attend or volunteer at the Stanford food pantry pop-up on Nov. 8. The pantry is an effort organized by the GSC to provide food-scarce graduate students with groceries. The councillors discussed increasing the visibility of sign-up links for volunteers and attendees to encourage wider participation. They are also in the process of organizing a Thanksgiving meal for graduate students. 

As in previous meetings, senators continued to discuss Stanford’s enforcement of a noise ordinance that restricts excessive noise after 10 p.m. They also continued to voice concerns about the mandatory number of sober monitors for graduate student social events. Both policies are stifling graduate students’ attempts to host community building and social events, some councillors said. 

The Council also voted to fund a Belgian Breakfast dinner and Diwali and Hanukkah Celebrations,for law students, as well as to support graduate family organizers in securing funding to plan family-friendly events.

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