GSC mourns the loss of Tyre Nichols, develops plans to boost enrollment in Stanford’s Teaching Kitchen

Feb. 1, 2023, 1:20 a.m.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) honored the memory of the late Tyre Nichols and discussed strategies to boost graduate student engagement with Stanford’s Teaching Kitchen classes during its Tuesday meeting.

Emily Schell, GSC co-chair and fifth-year developmental and psychological sciences Ph.D. student, opened the meeting by observing a moment of silence for the passing of Tyre Nichols, who was killed by Memphis police officers on Jan. 10.

The GSC also acknowledged a recent incident in which a white police officer drew a gun on a Black man near the Escondido Village Graduate Residences (EVGR), with Schell calling attention to how Stanford risks being a “complicit institution” in structural racism.

“GSC is committed to standing against anti-Blackness on campus,” Schell said. She called for future conversations on how councilmembers “can use our platform around affordability and mental health to think about the ways BIPOC communities on campus are particularly marginalized.”

Chef Terry Braggs was also in attendance at the meeting to raise concerns about low student enrollment in the Residential & Dining Enterprises (RD&E) Teaching Kitchen program. The Teaching Kitchen offers hands-on cooking classes with a professional chef twice a week to graduate students at EVGR Building C. Braggs asked for the GSC’s “constructive criticism and feedback” on how to increase student engagement.

Kavya Sreedhar, a fourth-year electrical engineering Ph.D. student, shared that she has heard “a lot of interest and excitement” in the Teaching Kitchen from other graduate students. However, she brought up the issue of dietary restrictions preventing some students from participating, as well as the cost of each class, which is $65, being a barrier. To reduce costs, Sreedhar suggested making the Teaching Kitchen classes university-enrolled courses, similar to Stanford’s recreational and wellness-based classes.

Another issue discussed was that of visibility. Braggs noted that when trying to obtain feedback from graduate students about the Teaching Kitchen, he found that many times “people don’t know what or where the Teaching Kitchen is.” Braggs called for more marketing to increase awareness among students about the cooking classes.

“There’s so much potential for the Teaching Kitchen, you know, not just to be teaching these grad classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but also like you said, like team building exercises,” Braggs said.

Another potential solution proposed by Jason Anderson, GSC co-chair and third-year aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D. student, was to include undergraduate students in Teaching Kitchen classes. RD&E representatives announced last week that there were plans to open Teaching Kitchen classes to undergraduates to raise enrollment.

“The Graduate Student Council wants to have the opportunity for graduate students to take ‘Teaching’ classes,” Anderson said. “Whether it’s once a week or twice a week or with undergrads, we just want that opportunity there so students have an option.”

The GSC also voted on adjustments to their grant policies for funding voluntary student organizations. They unanimously approved a 7% increase to their annual grant budget to adjust for inflation.

The GSC plans to work with the Undergraduate Senate to participate in Stanford’s budget allocations for next year. Among the GSC’s top priorities for the University budget are affordability, public transportation, sexual assault prevention and mental health resources.

The Associated Students of Stanford University executive president and vice president both plan on meeting with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs on Feb. 14 to present these preferences before the University’s budget is finalized in March or April.

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