Undergraduate senate calls for transfer community center, affordable housing

Feb. 25, 2022, 5:17 p.m.

The Undergraduate Senate unanimously passed a resolution that would pave the way for the establishment of a permanent transfer student community center at its Thursday meeting.  

Since 2019, the number of matriculating transfer students at Stanford has grown by 235% amid disruptions to the admissions process caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the resolution. Still, the transfer population has had to rely primarily on temporary spaces to congregate, according to the bill, posing barriers to community-building among transfer students. A community center has the potential to foster a stronger sense of belonging, support mental health and well-being and address challenges uniquely faced by transfer students as they integrate into the greater Stanford community, senators contend.

Senate co-chair Emily Nichols ’23 commended the bill’s authors, Kyle Becerra ’24 and Christian Sanchez ’24 for “pushing to advocate for the transfer community.”  

Becerra emphasized the importance of a transfer community center at last week’s Senate meeting, describing the current transfer community as a “nomadic group on campus.”

“We have student-parents, we have students who have been formerly incarcerated, we have low-income students, we have international students, you name it,” Becerra said last week. “A community center for transfer students would definitely be a great space for us to share in our unique diversity.”

Senators also unanimously passed the Joint Resolution to Share Mental Health Resources, which calls for expansions to the mental health education resources available to students and faculty. The resolution proposes that the University require all faculty and instructors to take a mandatory annual mental health and wellness training to learn about new student resources. The bill will also require instructors to update their syllabi with detailed mental health and wellness resources at the beginning of each quarter.

Requests for improved mental health resources have taken center stage at Stanford in recent weeks following a series of mental health emergencies on campus. The join resolution is the second bill that the senate has passed in an attempt to improve mental health on campus in the past two weeks.

The senate also deliberated a resolution that asks the University to commit to building more affordable housing on campus. The resolution, presented by ex-officio Senators Josie Amoo ’25 and Ritwik Tati ’25, follows up on Stanford’s efforts to secure a new General Use Permit (GUP) and expand campus construction. The negotiations ultimately fell through in 2019 after disagreements over affordable housing development. Now, Amoo and Tati, along with the Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 and Stanford Workers’ Rights, are calling upon the University to center the voices of Stanford employees, Palo Alto and East Palo Alto community members and stakeholders in future discussions regarding the General Use Permit withdrawal. 

The resolution’s authors highlighted Stanford’s previous commitments to affordable housing — before withdrawing its application, the University stated it would meet Santa Clara County’s request for 2,172 housing units for faculty and staff — 933 of which would have been made available at below-market rate, and thus affordable to Stanford workers. 

Since the University withdrew its GUP application, the resolution contends, there has been little information from the University about continued efforts to support nearby communities and staff despite the University’s stated commitment to “deepen engagement with local communities,” according to the resolution’s text.

“The university needs to be more transparent about what the promise of deepening social engagement with communities means, and to make sure that they’re communicating with everyone in the community,” Amoo said.

Senators plan to vote on the affordable housing resolution at their meeting next week.

Jackie Liu ‘25 is a Campus Life writer for the News section. Contact her at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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