GSC sounds alarms about Stanford’s COVID isolation management

Councilmembers are set to vote on several key bills next week

Jan. 5, 2022, 11:45 p.m.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) raised concerns about Stanford’s management of its COVID-19 isolation system and prepared to vote on several bills next week regarding a range of policy changes, including transportation and the Fundamental Standard, at its Wednesday meeting. 

Councilmembers highlighted reports of food delivery issues from students who recently tested positive for the virus and were temporarily relocated to Escondido Village Graduate Residences (EVGR) isolation housing or off-campus apartments. Some students in isolation have reported missing or late meals and a lack of guidance from the University, according to councilmembers. 

Assistant Director of Stanford Dining Kahlil Wells said at the meeting that a surge in COVID-19 cases and a shortage of isolation spaces on campus have caused “mistakes here and there” as the University has organized to meet increased demand. But Kahlil added that the University is “getting those problems fixed” and has “multiple contingency plans.”

Councilmembers also expressed concern about future surges of COVID-19 as more students are set to arrive on campus and may create additional demand for isolation spaces. 

Imogen Hinds, the Executive Director of Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Student Housing Operations Executive Director, said that the University is looking to increase off-campus isolation housing availability, but that Stanford expects availability to fluctuate as students move out of isolation. Hinds added that deans are working to provide support and resources to Stanford’s graduate student community.

Several of the councilmembers said they think that students are receiving insufficient guidance from the University about what to do if they test positive and urged the University to provide more robust support for COVID-positive students.

Emily Schell, a fourth-year doctoral student in education, also expressed concerns that communities living in and around Stanford’s off-campus isolation housing may not be aware of an influx of COVID-19 among Stanford affiliates.

“It’s just kind of like we’re outsourcing our COVID cases,” Schell said, asking whether surrounding communities “even know that there are COVID positive people” in the area. 

While speaking with R&DE Stanford Dining Executive Director Eric Montell, second-year electrical engineering student Chloe Glikbarg expressed concerns about meal plan affordability for Stanford’s coterm graduate students who work as resident assistants (RA). Glikbarg said coterm students who staff undergraduate dorms are automatically enrolled in a more expensive undergraduate meal plan, which can become a financial burden, reiterating concerns expressed at previous GSC meetings.

Montell said the issue was outside of his domain and needed to be resolved by senior level administration, but that he is in communication with the University about addressing it. 

Councilmembers are set to vote next week on a bill to clarify travel funding policies for student organizations. The bill would prevent limitations on travel arrangements that benefit specific vendors due to affordability and environmental concerns, including Uber and other popular transportation services, which have a higher cost-per-mile and result in “significantly more pollution than private car rides,” according to the bill’s text. 

Councilmembers will also vote on a bill to officially record conditional acceptances of constitutional amendments and a bill urging faculty senate to amend the Fundamental Standard to include doxxing as a code violation. The Council will vote to nominate Joshua Jankelow to the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Constitutional Council next week. 

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that several key bills were postponed by councilmembers. They are set to be voted on next week per official voting procedures. The Daily regrets this error.

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