GSC voices support for affordability survey and anti-sexual violence resolution

Oct. 26, 2022, 11:00 p.m.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) discussed an upcoming survey on student expenses and discussed drafting an anti-sexual violence resolution with the Undergraduate Senate (UGS) during its Tuesday meeting. 

Director of Assessment and Program Evaluation of Stanford Institutional Research & Decision Support (IR&DS) Brian Cook shared expectations for the upcoming survey, which seeks to collect data on how much money students spend. 

“Our plan for this survey is to be as transparent as possible,” Cook said. “IR&DS is not a policy office. We don’t make decisions on anything; we collect data to inform decisions on campus.” 

This survey, last administered in 2018, is taken every five years to help set financial aid packages for students. Because of recent inflation since the last survey, there is “a big need” for this survey, Cook said. The survey will be updated to reflect inflation and affordability issues on campus and include questions about the cost of attendance, such as transportation expenses and course-related costs, as well as additional financial context.

Earlier this year, the GSC unanimously approved the Bill of Affordability, which sought to highlight financial hardships that many students face. This survey, which has been in the works for four months, will help bolster the Bill of Affordability, councilors said.

For the Bill of Affordability, the GSC conducted its own survey to quantitatively show how stagnant graduate student incomes created problems with covering basic finances as expenses rose. While the councilors hope the survey will support the University’s decision-making, “the University isn’t going to look at our 250-person survey and make policy based on that,” said GSC Co-Chair and third year Ph.D. student in aeronautics and astronautics Jason Anderson.

“From a university perspective, they have to do a survey because this is how [financial] aid is awarded,” Anderson said. “We’re just putting our fingers in so they can better represent the graduate student concerns.” 

The survey is planned to be released to students around Nov. 7 and will stay open for a couple of weeks, Cook said. Because the typical IR&DS survey response rate is between 30% and 50%, the GSC discussed possible incentives for students to take this survey, such as a pizza party for participants.

The GSC also addressed their collaboration with the Undergraduate Senate (UGS) to draft a joint resolution regarding sexual violence, including recent sexual assaults on campus and imbalanced power dynamics between graduate students and faculty. “The GSC is engaging with UGS regarding an anti-sexual violence resolution, including graduate-specific priorities, such as the faculty-student relationship and issues with that,” Anderson said.

Last week, UGS unanimously voted to pass a resolution to the University addressing sexual violence. The joint resolution will be finished within the next two weeks and go before the Faculty Senate by the end of November, said council co-chair Emily Schell, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in developmental and psychological sciences.

Lauren is a contributing writer for the sports section. You can contact her at sports 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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