Undergraduate Senate addresses police violence and unaffordability

Feb. 9, 2023, 10:43 p.m.

The Undergraduate Senate (UGS) criticized the incident of a police officer pointing a gun at a Black man on campus on Jan. 28 and rebuked the University’s increase in undergraduate charges at its meeting on Thursday. Senators also reported positive student feedback to reinstating Full Moon on the Quad.

Policing and Crisis Response

Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Vice President Christian Sanchez ’24 said that he spoke with Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Access and Community Patrick Dunkley about the Jan. 28 incident where a Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) officer pointed a gun at a Black man. Sanchez said that not only was the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department conducting a review of the incident, but the University hired an external review organization called Rising Group to review the incident faster. 

UGS co-chair Amira Dehmani ’24 presented a resolution on reforming campus crisis response and 5150 policy, referring to when an adult can be involuntarily detained by police in situations of mental health crisis, or pay fees to be transported in an ambulance if not covered by Cardinal Care. Her resolution proposed a crisis response partnership between Stanford police and a psychiatric mental health team in Palo Alto. She acknowledged that the proposal was not finished, but “anything is better than what we currently have.”

Dehmani said there were reports of Black and Latinx vehicle operators being stopped at disproportionate rates by SUDPS.

“SUDPS is not cleared from American police violence,” Dehmani said. “They are just as culpable.”

UGS Deputy Chair Ritwik Tati ’25 proposed a resolution with Mental Health Committee Chair Josie Amoo ’25 to address SUDPS “not following through” on past commitments to improving surveillance and tracking procedures. Tati is a former news staffer for The Daily. 

Full Moon on the Quad

The UGS is considering planning an official Full Moon on the Quad event after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 and an unofficial FMOTQ on Sunday night. From a survey sent to students on Sunday night, Kevin Malaekeh ’25 reported that 93 percent of the 710 respondents supported the reinstatement of FMOTQ.

“We want to explore ways to bring back Full Moon on the Quad,” co-chair Aden Beyene ’24 said. “But safely, and with a partner organization.”

Sanchez noted that the Sexual Health Peer Resource Center (SHPRC) did not want to co-organize FMOTQ because it “did not align with the values and mission of the organization.” The Junior Class Council, which traditionally organized the event, also did not take the role.

Increase in Undergraduate Charges

The Senate criticized Stanford’s Feb. 9 announcement of a 7% increase in undergraduate charges. Without financial aid, the total annual cost for an undergraduate will be $82,406 in 2023-24, including $61,731 for tuition, $19,922 for standard room and board and $753 for the mandatory health fee.

“I just find it ridiculous,” Dehmani said. “I don’t see how they can justify this, like where’s the payoff for us? Where is the technology that we need? Where is the bus transportation that we need? Why do we have food insecurity on this campus?”

Diego Kagurabadza ’25 proposed a resolution to make the statement that the Senate is opposed to financial barriers to education, and will pledge up to $3500 for textbooks. The resolution was proposed after a Nov. 2022 UGS survey found that the average cost of textbooks per quarter was $191, and 76.8% of respondents said this was unaffordable. 

Student Initiatives

Senators heard from Zahra Fazal, first-year master’s student in epidemiology, on the topic of food availability. Fazal, who said she has faced food insecurity herself, waiting in “very long lines for almost an hour” at the EVGR food pantry, advocated for a Community Fridge Initiative to provide free food on campus.

The Senate also unanimously approved all funding requests for student organizations, though Appropriations Chair Mark Huerta ’24 acknowledged that the budget was “very tight” this year. Huerta said that there were over $6 million worth of annual grant applications for 2023-24 while last year UGS and the Graduate Student Council approved $3.5 million in grants. 

Other updates from senators included plans for a pilot project to distribute laptops to undergraduate students from Dehmani and development of the Multi-Racial Community Center initiative from co-chair Beyene. Kagurabadza announced the continuation of Flower Fridays in partnership with Mental Health Week.

Correction: A previous version of this article misattributed a quote from Aden Beyene to Amira Dehmani. The Daily regrets this error.

Caroline Chen '26 is a Vol. 265 News Managing Editor. She is from Chapel Hill, N.C. and enjoys vegetable farms and long walks. Contact cqchen 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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