NewsStudent Government

Undergraduate Senate stresses mental health, urges Stanford to support UG2 for higher pay in April

May 2, 2022, 12:02 a.m.

The Undergraduate Senate considered a number of measures during this April meetings, including discussions surrounding mental health on campus, labor equity for Stanford service workers and the sunset of take-out containers in dining halls. The Senate met four times during the month, with meetings taking place prior to the appointment of new senators during the 2022 Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) elections.  

Mental health 

The Senate stressed the need for enhanced mental health support, as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, during their April meetings. The transition back to in-person learning has coincided with an increased rate of students reaching out to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) over the past two years. The Senate met with the Community Board on Public Safety on April 7 to address the mental health crisis.

During their April 7 meeting, senators referenced peer institutions that have instituted and researched the positive impact of the implementation of mental health days. The Senate plans to vote on a resolution on mental health and wellness days in May. The resolution would ask Stanford to mandate that all instructors provide a recommended two to three rest days per quarter, per class, for all students. Under this resolution,  students could use the allotted days to not attend classes and to care for their mental health.  

Former Senate Co-Chair Emily Nichols ’23 also introduced a mental health initiative that would give students a discount for self-care materials from Silk Sonder, a wellness company.  

Community Support 

Senate Co-Chair Alain Perez ’23 proposed a resolution in solidarity with Service Employees International Union United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW) members for higher pay in their side letter agreement. 

“Inflation has caused prices to soar in a changing economy, especially in one of the most expensive areas in the country,” Perez wrote in the resolution. 

In the proposal, they demand that Stanford administrators send public support to the workers advocating for higher pay, and they pressure UG2, a facilities and custodial management company with which the University contracts, to bargain with the SEIU-USWW bargaining committee.

The Senate, along with other branches of the ASSU, also met with the University’s Equity Audit Team on April 21 to discuss ways in which the ASSU can incorporate the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in their practices. The Senate also plans to organize a meeting with the Black community to discuss policing on campus, according to Nichols.

 “We want to get insight on students’ experiences with the police to figure out the best way to move forward as a community and how to structure the community plan to better support Black students at Stanford,” Nichols said. 

Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) 

R&DE Stanford Dining Executive Director Eric Montell, Director of Housing Assignments Justin Akers and Executive Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement Jocelyn Breeland met with the Senate during their April 14 meeting to share their monthly update on behalf of R&DE. 

With the convergence of Passover and Ramadan in April, R&DE provided Kosher food for pick-up, matzah and matzah ball soup in all dining halls and Suhoor and Iftar meals in Arrillaga Family Dining Commons and Lakeside Dining for Stanford’s Jewish and Muslim communities, according to the representatives. 

R&DE representatives also addressed various student concerns and feedback during the meeting. Following student criticism about the sunset of to-go meal boxes from dining halls on April 11, representatives said that the removal was due to the amount of landfill trash, food waste and additional cost associated with the program. 

R&DE plans to start a Menu Innovation Student Committee to consider more student feedback on menus. However, as of now, there are no plans to resume Arrillaga Late Night Kitchen due to staff shortages, according to Montell.

Students living in Row houses have circulated a petition for mail and packages to be delivered to their houses instead of the Tresidder Package Center. R&DE representatives said mail and packages that arrive at Row houses during winter and summer breaks make the process of delivery to students impossible. 

The representatives also talked about the new housing application process, which includes a self-select model that will increase transparency and give students more agency. All students who intend to live on campus during the summer and autumn quarters submitted housing applications in April.  

Sustainability 

Perez proposed a resolution in solidarity with Fossil Free Stanford, a student group which has filed a legal complaint against the University along with four other peer institutions — Yale, Princeton, MIT, and Vanderbilt — citing illegal investments under the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act.

The proposal asks the Senate to fully endorse Fossil Free Stanford’s actions against fossil fuel investments and to write a letter to the California Attorney General in support of the complaint to investigate the University. 

The Senate is also working with the Scope 3 Emissions team through the office of Business Affairs to address Stanford’s waste management, according to Senator Sarah Saboorian ’22 M.S. ’22. 

“We are working on how we can better have reduction interventions through waste, which is mainly metals, glass, the garden trimmings that come from Stanford and even students’ flights to home and back,” Saboorian said during the Senate’s April 21 meeting.

Luke Veit and Andrew Gerges contributed reporting to this article.

Enkhjin Munkhbayar '25 is a writer for The Daily. She is from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and studies political science. Contact Enkhjin at news ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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