Senate urges Stanford to support students and service workers amid COVID surge

Jan. 13, 2022, 11:42 p.m.

Undergraduate senators introduced a resolution calling on faculty to increase academic accommodations such as offering recorded lectures — including when in-person classes resume — and providing an extended add and drop deadline for the winter quarter during their Thursday meeting. The resolution comes as spiking COVID-19 cases on campus are causing uncertainty and stress for many students.

Four senators co-authored the resolution following Provost Persis Drell and Associate Vice Provost Russell Furr’s announcement that the start of most in-person undergraduate classes would be delayed until week four. The University previously planned to resume all in-person instruction during week three.

The resolution also calls on the University to implement an optional credit/no credit grading policy for winter quarter, which could extend through the academic year if the current case count persists. Senators further proposed increasing academic accommodations and accessibility support for students during the midterm season and allowing students to count classes taken on a credit/no credit basis towards major requirements.  

Senator Darryl Thompson ’23, who co-authored the resolution, said that the resolution was put together “to preemptively and proactively make requests for accommodations for students knowing that this time is an uncertain period for everybody.” 

Senators want “to make sure that students are best supported, given the case counts and the number of students in isolation as well as the stress associated with virtual learning in general,” Thompson added. 

Because of the pressing nature of the resolution, senators are considering voting on the resolution in their public Slack channel instead of delaying the vote until their next meeting. If it passes in the Senate, the resolution must then be passed by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) before it can be presented to the Faculty Senate as a joint resolution. 

Senate Co-Chair Emily Geigh Nichols ’23 said the GSC’s support for the resolution would help encourage the Faculty Senate to implement the proposed policies. Senators plan to meet with the GSC in the next few days and will ask if the GSC can also conduct their vote in their public Slack channel ahead of their Wednesday meeting in an attempt to get the joint resolution in front of the Faculty Senate as soon as possible, according to Nichols.

The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) has also designated a part of their discretionary fund to establish a COVID-19 coordinator to help students navigate the pandemic. ASSU President Christian Giadolor ’21 M.A. ’22 explained that the coordinator will support and manage different COVID-related initiatives such as providing aid for students.

Senate Co-Chair Alain Pérez ’23 also discussed their work with Students for Workers’ Rights. Pérez said that the Senate plans to send an email to the University on Monday expressing their concerns about the safety of subcontracted service workers in light of rising cases on campus.

“A few of the workers have been saying that they have to bring their own masks and that Stanford isn’t providing high-quality masks,” Pérez said. “Stanford also isn’t providing adequate testing.”

If quality masks and testing are not being provided, the email asks that Stanford take steps to prioritize these efforts to protect workers’ health and that of the broader Stanford community.

The University did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Stanford’s support for subcontracted service workers.

Julia Biswas '25 is a Desk Editor for the Academics Desk. Contact The Daily’s News section at news ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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