GSC symbolically rescinds Honor Code change approval, discusses Murdoch and Mercer relationship to Stanford

June 7, 2023, 10:49 p.m.

In a symbolic show of support for the Undergraduate Senate (UGS) and shared governance, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) unanimously voted to endorse the rescindment of the Faculty Senate’s SenD#831 bill which had been set to allow exam proctoring and end a 102-year precedent by sidestepping a student vote.

The council also held an open discussion about the Faculty Senate Resolution on Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Mercer. Murdoch and Mercer both sit on the Hoover Board of Overseers, but there have been questions as to whether or not Stanford should continue associating with them because of “dangerous, racist and antisemitic disinformation on platforms they own or control,” according to Lipsick and Jakovljević’s op-ed.

Re-Vote on Honor Code

The GSC voted unanimously to approve the rescindment of the Faculty Senate’s SenD#8313.

The decision comes after the Faculty Senate bypassed the UGS’s vote opposing the C-12 changes. Kristen Jackson, GSC co-chair and third-year Ph.D. student in education, wrote that “The resolution does not change anything about the honor code and administration of the honor code. The GSC still supports the changes to the honor code and judicial charter spelled out in C12.”

The move was to show solidarity with the UGS and support for collaboration between the University’s governing bodies. The motion to rescind SenD#8313 “removes from the record the Faculty Senate’s pre-emptive support of a bill that would supersede UGS approval and enact proctoring without the other body’s approval,” wrote Jackson. “We desire to be in partnership with all bodies, and wanted to ensure the UGS and undergraduate students writ large know that we respect their autonomy.”

Statement on Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Mercer

The GSC also held an open discussion about a Stanford Daily op-ed written by professors Joseph Lipsick and Branislav Jakovljević last week. The op-ed covered the Faculty Senate’s proposed resolution calling for the termination of Stanford’s association with Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Mercer.

“Although the Faculty Senate has no control over non-academic appointments and honors, members of the Stanford faculty do have an obligation to ensure that our University abides by its own code of conduct and other stated policies,” wrote Lipsick and Jakovljević in the op-ed.

In the op-ed, they argued that disinformation and hate speech on Murdoch and Mercer’s platforms have violated Stanford’s Code of Conduct.

“The previous ASSU representatives to the Faculty Senate had universally agreed that we were in support of the motion to denounce Rebekah Mercer and Rupert Murdoch, but now that we’ve transitioned over, that statement is no longer as punchy because we don’t actually represent students anymore,” said Lawrence Berg, fourth-year chemistry Ph.D. student, referencing the change in GSC representatives.

The new GSC then discussed what their position would be if they were officially approached for a statement. Emmit Pert, third-year Ph.D. student in chemistry and newly elected GSC councilmember, said he had no problem with the University or faculty asking questions about who Stanford chooses to honor or associate with.

“There should be more scrutiny of the kinds of people that are being appointed to boards of all institutions across the university,” Pert said.

Tom Liu, third-year Ph.D. student in physics and GSC councilmember, raised a question about the association between the Hoover Institution, of which Mercer and Murdoch sit on the Hoover Board of Overseers, and the University more widely.

“This bill is not asking for disassociation from the Hoover Institute,” Jackson said, “But I also think that’s fundamentally what’s at stake. To what extent should a body, a research lab, a center, be affiliated with Stanford with and to what level of oversight should exist?”

The GSC also unanimously voted to support a motion to denounce Murdoch and Mercer if asked for another statement.

“If during the Faculty Senate’s 6/15 meeting, Lawrence Berg or Yiqing Ding (acting [Faculty Senate] representatives from the GSC) are asked about Mercer and Murdoch, they will express support for the resolution from Professors Jakovljević and Lipsick and support greater scrutiny into and inquiry of centers on campus conducting ideological research,” Jackson wrote.

Judy N. Liu '26 is the Academics desk editor for News and staff writer at The Daily.

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