GSC affirms commitment to mental health, supports Stanford nurses

April 21, 2022, 1:26 p.m.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) voiced support for resolutions that call for efforts to improve mental health among Stanford nurses and students during its Wednesday meeting. The Council also attempted to provide suggestions about campus safety concerns to The Community Board on Public Safety.

Councilors endorsed the Resolution in Support of Striking Stanford Nurses, which affirms the importance of a fair agreement between Stanford Health Care and the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA). The resolution comes as nurses prepare for their first strike in 20 years. The nurses are calling for improved retirement and healthcare benefits. Second-year aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D. Jason Anderson suggested that the council reach out to the union and discuss how GSC can support the nurses before voting on the resolution next week.

Councilors also pushed for improved mental health resource availability on campus in the Joint Resolution to Share Mental Health Resources, which will come to a vote next week. The resolution, which was unanimously approved by the Undergraduate Senate, aims to increase training for Stanford faculty and instructors and generate more awareness of mental health resources on campus.  

GSC councilor Tim Vrakas ’21 M.S. ’22, who is also a member of The Daily’s board, recognized that “CAPS [Counseling and Psychological Services] doesn’t have the resources” to provide additional mental health training and suggested that the authors adjust the resolution to include additional funding for CAPS. 

“Instead of asking CAPS to make trainings for faculty, I feel like I would rather ask the University to pay for more people to work at CAPS,” Vrakas said. 

GSC co-chair K.C. Shah J.D. ’22 agreed that clarification about financial need at CAPS should be included in the resolution, adding that it could play a role in the Faculty Senate’s budget approval process.

The Community Board on Public Safety invited GSC members to meet with The Riseling Group (TRG), a consulting firm, to address public safety concerns on campus on Wednesday April 20. The Board was established in June 2020 and was charged with producing a set of recommendations to improve public safety at Stanford and foster transparency between the Department of Public Safety and the wider campus community. After the Board issued a report last summer, TRG was hired to assist the University in evaluating and implementing the eight principles set forth. 

A majority of the consulting group is made up of former campus law enforcement officers, according to the resumes attached to the calendar invite, a finding that surprised several councilors.

“Hiring a group of consultants comprised of former law enforcement officers shows a very limited understanding of what ‘public safety’ truly is,” said third-year Ph.D. student in the Race, Inequality, and Language in Education Jarita Greyeyes. 

The Community Board on Public Safety prompted the GSC to give TRG feedback on public safety without any forewarning, which caught some councilors off guard. According to Shah, the GSC was under the impression that the group was going to present to us” and would have appreciated being informed of the meeting with more time to spare. The GSC first heard on April 15 that the board wanted to meet at the next meeting.

According to fourth-year communication Ph.D. student and GSC Co-Chair Sanna Ali, the GSC would have appreciated “talking to our constituents and gathering their input” on public safety before sharing feedback with TRG. 

Fifth year Ph.D. candidate in cancer biology at the School of Medicine Brooks Bernard expressed hopes that TRG will share the “recommendations going to the University so that we all have some accountability.” 

The Daily has reached out to the Community Board on Public Safety and TRG for comment.

The GSC also unanimously approved all pending funding requests, including one for the Fire on Fire XIV event and the Stanford Law School Public Interest Law Foundation Annual Auction. Councilors aim to encourage more graduate student engagement on campus.

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