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THE TIME IS NOW
Munira ALIMIRE and Vianna VO for 2020-2021 ASSU EXEC

Running for a Stanford that puts people before profit.

WHY US,
WHY THIS,
WHY NOW

We know how change works on our campus. The issues that student activists have fought for — adequate support systems for struggling students, recognition and funding for marginalized communities, affordability for every member of our community— have often been placed at the end of the University’s priority list. We’ve been told that change takes time, that we need to wait. Eventually, the University waits us out. As two women of color, we are so aware of the shortcomings of the University and that the labor often falls onto students like us to find them, to follow up, to find solutions. We are running because we can no longer wait.

We know how to make change happen on our campus. Through our work as Undergraduate Senate Chair and ASSU Director of Mental Health & Wellness, we’ve gotten to understand our campus’ challenges and have a proven track record of getting things done. We established the ASSU Support Fund in an unprecedented time of need - and distributed $191,000 to over 1400 students. We’ve worked with Weiland to expand services for the queer and gender expansive community. We’ve hosted workshops to increase knowledge about CAPS resources. We’ve unanimously passed a resolution against the noose that was found on campus which led to the formation of the new Acts of Intolerance Working Group. We’ve listened in our open community meetings and have done our best to respond to these needs. We intend to continue advocating alongside you as your ASSU Exec(s).

We are at a turning point in Stanford's history that will not leave any part of the campus untouched.

We know the time for change is now. We are at a turning point in Stanford’s history that will not leave any part of the campus untouched. With COVID-19 changing the landscape of what Stanford is, and as we enter the implementation phase of the Long-Range Planning process, we want to amplify the voices of students and advocate alongside you to ensure that the new Stanford is a Stanford for us all. We know the administration has many different, competing priorities, including its own long-term financial viability and reputation which they have placed before community needs in the past. We know student advocacy is often the only thing that can stop that. We are running because we want to ensure this new era puts people — not profit, not the Stanford brand — first.

RESPONDING TO + FIGHTING COVID-19

The last two months have drastically changed our world as we know it — and this is only the beginning.

This has been a tumultuous few months and none of us know when we will be on campus or when things will go back to normal. We do now though that right now is a moment where the most powerful advocacy is possible and we are adjusting every aspect of our platform to reflect the changes that have occured. The most important thing on our timeline is the June budget cuts — we are currently making plans to advocate for what the university should not cut funding for and how we should go about it — and the Fall Planning.

The pandemic has drastically shifted the biggest priorities that we have as a community.

The pandemic has drastically shifted the biggest priorities that we have as a community and needs the incoming ASSU Executives to be ready to work on several pressing issues over the next few months. If we’re elected, here are the first five things we commit to working on as soon as our term begins:

1) Working with the Provost, the Budget Group and the various university units on the impending budget cuts. The economic recession we are in will impact the budget for FY 2019-2020 - Provost Drell has indicated in university communications that there will be a 10-15% cut for most of the university units. These budget cuts are being decided over the next few weeks and representing the community at this time is one of the most important things we can do as Exec. We plan to work with the Provost and the Budget Group to try to protect the resources that are most important to us as a community and push Stanford to protect its most vulnerable community members.

2) Addressing our community’s affordability concerns: As mentioned earlier, the economic recession has drastic impacts on all our community members - for FLI undergraduates, graduate students and staff particularly. Stanford has ensured certain protections for undergraduate students - by removing next year’s student contribution for FLI students and providing stipends for off-campus students - but hasn’t ensured the same level of support for graduate students, many of whom were already living paycheck to paycheck. Stanford has not guaranteed summer funding for graduate students or addressed their concerns about affording housing next year - as the summer approaches, this is incredibly important. As ASSU Executives, we plan to advocate these needs to administrators and ensure that our most vulnerable students are financially supported.

3) Supporting students who are still on campus and will likely need to remain on campus: Most undergraduates and many graduates were able to leave Stanford when Santa Clara County issued the stay-at-home orders - but many students and their families were unable to leave. These members of our community are experiencing a very different Stanford than we are used to- undergraduates who were employed no longer have their jobs, graduate students fear moving out and losing their housing priority, students report more aggressive encounters with police officers and social distancing protocols have shut down dorm common spaces, impacting students’ mental health and wellbeing. As ASSU Executives, we want to represent the concerns of every student and will work to ensure that these voices are heard and represented on the university agenda.

As ASSU Executives, we want to represent the concerns of every student.

4) Addressing mental health and wellbeing concerns: The pandemic has disrupted our lives as we know it and has caused many of us much emotional turmoil - whether it is dealing with the losses brought on by COVID-19 or by the economic recession; trying to balance school and personal obligations; or losing the many support systems that being at Stanford allowed us to have. As ASSU Executives, we want to continue the important work of providing the resources that are important for everyone’s well-being. We plan to collaborate with Stanford Well-Being to make the Red Folder available to all students on their Canvas landing page and to work with professors to address the importance of wellness in their classrooms.

5) Fighting for our campus workers. The most vulnerable members of our community are our service workers, who are experiencing some of the worst impacts of the economic recession. The organizing and fundraising that Stanford Students for Workers’ Rights have been able to do is historic - but ensuring our workers are paid and provided the basic resources they need to do their jobs’ well should not be the responsibility of the students; but of Stanford. As ASSU Executives, we plan to continue the work of the current administration and fight to provide our workers’ pay continuance, personal protective equipment, hazard pay and paid sick leave, regardless of their contracting status.

We give you our word that on the day we take office, we will strive to make your wishes known, your communities protected, and your voices heard. We understand that advocacy is labor and for us, it is a labor of love. We want nothing more than to be able to promote change on our campus and leave Stanford a better place than when we found it.

MENTAL HEALTH + WELLNESS

Demand accountability in graduate advisor-advisee relationships. Graduate advisors are infamous for overworking their students and without any feedback mechanisms, these toxic relationships continue. Next year, we would like to expand the 360 degree feedback system that was implemented in the Biosciences because gaining feedback was invaluable for targeting change points within graduate advising. This system enhances traditional feedback by not only approaching it from top-down (advisor to advisee), but also providing opportunities for advisees to give feedback to their advisors.

Require that faculty and staff attend training on mental health & wellness. This year, Suzi Weersing, the Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, piloted a 3 day bootcamp for new professors that covered scenarios related to mental health that they might encounter in the classroom. We would like to expand this training to the other Schools at Stanford and work with Suzi to continually develop the material within the training.

Improve support systems for referring students to off-campus providers. Currently, many students are given a list of numbers to call and oftentimes, these students find themselves lost and overwhelmed. We would like to work with CAPS to improve off-campus referral by expanding the case manager position. There are currently two case managers at CAPS; however, many students do not know how to access their help and when they do utilize case management, there is not adequate follow-through after the initial contact. Since CAPS is not equipped for long-term care, it is important to have strong support systems when referring students off-campus.

Build better support systems for our graduate students. Next year, we will have a population of 2,500 graduate students living on campus in the new Escondido Village Graduate Residences. As of now, the University is not equipped to support the mental health needs of the graduate student body. To meet these needs, we ask the University to expand on-campus mental health resources (i.e. hours and providers) as well as work on providing affordable care.

Remove police as first responders to 5150s. Students placed on a 5150 hold, an involuntary 72 hour hospitalization, should not have to face the additional trauma of being handcuffed by the police. This practice is deeply ableist and instills mistrust in Stanford’s mental health resources, Residential Deans, and the police. We call on Stanford to explore other options for first responders, such as Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT).

Refine involuntary leave of absence policy. Following the lawsuit, Stanford has outlined a new policy for involuntary leave of absence (ILA) that went into effect this year. Though a new policy was published, there was not clear messaging on what has changed from before. We hope to work with the administration to communicate these changes in a clear manner to students and continually work with Stanford to ensure that these changes are reinforced.

Develop support systems for non-clinical needs. We strongly support the hiring of three student support specialists through Well-Being at Stanford and want to continue building a team to help students flourish. These systems of support are meant for students who may not need the clinical level of care offered at CAPS, but want to work on improving their well-being.

PREVENTING SEXUAL ASSAULT

Designate a single point of entry for all services. Currently, the support systems in places for survivors are confusing and difficult for anyone to navigate - whether it is the survivor themself, mandated reporters such as RAs and faculty or anyone who wishes to help a friend in a time of need. It is decentralized and riddled with blind spots as admin who work within this area are often unaware of the other’s work. We hope to establish a single point of entry for all support services, to ease the experience of everyone who navigates this system. CST would work as the ideal point of entry - as it is anonymous and offers the most extensive services as is.

Provide guidance on the new Title IX changes. Last week against the urges of many student leaders, Betsy DeVos released changes to Title IX. In the upcoming year, these changes will impact the landscape of Stanford’s sexual violence policy and threatens to take away many of the protections that students have fought for over the last decade. The new guidelines reduce the action that Stanford can take against incidents that occur off-campus or online - which is especially concerning as we may not return to campus in the fall. We will work to ensure that our Executive Cabinet directors have the ability to engage in conversation with key administrators and subsequently are able to relay this information to the student body.

Increasing the hours of legal aid survivors receive. Survivors only receive 9 hours of legal service, which is often used up before they even reach a hearing. If they were assaulted by a faculty member, they receive zero hours of legal aid. Legal support is incredibly important as one navigates what action they may want to take against their perpetrator - especially for students who are assaulted or abused by faculty members who have power over them, such as graduate students and student researchers. As ASSU Executives, we plan to push for increased legal aid for all survivors and provide additional support, by working with YWCA which can provide survivor advocacy. Furthermore, we would like to look into setting up a legal aid clinic modeled after the Ombuds’ Office.

Implement and improve training for staff and students. It is important that those who interface the most with survivors - providers, Title IX investigators, student staff, RFs and RDs - have the necessary training to support them. Providers and investigators currently are not equipped with the knowledge on how to respectfully treat survivors and we want to implement trauma-informed training for those who will be dealing with the most sensitive experiences of survivors. Student staff, RFs, and RDs are often the first people survivors speak to when they decide they want to access support but there is very little resource awareness amongst these key stakeholders. We want to design and disseminate a Red Folder for sexual violence resources as well as working alongside ResEd to improve the resources available to student staff during and after training.

Demand more transparency and student involvement from the administration. The administration has a history of actively leaving student leaders out of the decision-making process on sexual harassment policy - despite that students are the ones who are most impacted by the services. As ASSU Executives, we will push Stanford to create more clear, transparent and universal sexual harassment policy and to communicate with us and the wider student body about how the proposed Title IX changes will impact our current policies. We also will demand administrators to effectively communicate the services that will be provided and increased as the Long Range Planning process begins.

Promote and protect survivor services. A large part of our problem is that students often are not aware of or do not know how to navigate the resources that are available to them. For example, it is not well-known that Stanford Hospital recently began offering SART exams. We would like to work with the SARA Office to keep an updated database of resources and perhaps start a peer support program (similar to the Bridge) that helps students connect to resources. In the upcoming year, there will undoubtedly be budget cuts and we will emphasize the importance of maintaining the services that are currently provided to students.

ESTABLISHING DISABILITY ADVOCACY

Establish a permanent Disability Community Center (DCC). An increasing number of students register for services from the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) each year. Currently, around 1 in 5 students are registered with the OAE. By establishing a DCC, we hope to build community, increase support, and celebrate diversity.

Improve OAE feedback system for students. Currently, there is not a clear way for students to provide feedback to the OAE. We plan to collaborate with John Cu, a senior disability adviser, in order to craft a survey that asks questions about successes and challenges surrounding OAE services.

Hold professors accountable for respecting OAE accommodations. Although professors are legally mandated to provide accommodations as outlined by an OAE letter, there are instances where professors discourage students from using their accommodations. We intend to work with the Schwab Learning Center and the Center for Teaching and Learning to create an optional course evaluations survey that asks for students' experience with obtaining accommodations from their professors.

Establish a Disability Studies minor. We would like to provide support for current courses offered in Disability Studies and to begin the process of establishing a minor. As of now, there are classes offered on body politics, disability and gender, and accessibility design. We would like to push for the expansion of these courses and streamline course offerings into a minor.

Create a “technology hub” equivalent for the OAE. Many students rely on assistive devices. We ask that Stanford funds the purchase of a few devices to be loaned out for emergencies (i.e. device is broken or lost). Losing access to an assistive device can be highly stressful and impactful for students, especially if they must navigate to an off-campus store in order to find a replacement.

AFFORDABILITY FOR ALL

Increase financial aid and grant-in-aid for next year given the impacts of COVID-19. As we know, Stanford has sent back the $7,376,668 allocations from the CARES Act. $3,688,334 would have gone to supporting student financial aid. Stanford has promised to match the CARES Act and to continue providing adequate aid for all students. Considering that many students were ineligible for the stimulus checks and future legislation may continue to exclude multiple students, we will fight for Stanford to increase financial aid and grant-in-aid for all low-income students.

Lower housing costs for graduate students. For most graduate students, on-campus housing is more than 40% of their income - which qualifies them as rent-burdened and makes it hard for them to afford food, medical care and childcare. This is especially concerning because Stanford is forcing graduate students to move on campus and new students will have to move into the most expensive housing. Rent has been rising while salary rates are not matching - we will fight Stanford to ensure that all graduate students can live on campus without bankrupting themselves.

Emphasize the importance of support for graduate student’s families. In addition to housing costs, graduate students are faced with exorbitant costs related to dependent healthcare and childcare. Our premiums for dependent healthcare are exorbitantly high compared to our peer institutions and, in order to make dependent healthcare free, Stanford would only need to commit 0.01% of its endowment. Childcare costs are high because there are few on-campus childcare programs and after-school care options and those that are available are expensive. As ASSU Executives, we plan to push Stanford to make dependent healthcare free for all graduate students’ children and their spouses who are unable to receive healthcare and provide increased childcare subsidies and services.

Ensure food security for everyone. We have had conversations with the members of the Graduate Student Council to further understand this. The pilot program for the food pantry this year demonstrated a need for a more robust program. Recently, the Directors of Graduate Affordability partnered with the ShareMeals app to help students have increased food security. We want to continue these plans while also working with RD&E to create a long-term institutional solution to graduate food security.

Removing course enrollment fees (CEF). For all students, 57% say that CEF influences choosing their classes. When we break it down by FLI and Non-FLI students, almost 3 out of 4 of FLI students say that it influences choosing their classes compared to 40% of non-FLI students. Because of COVID-19, there will be more people who become low-income and some people who were low-income before will face even greater struggles. It is time to remove these fees. To do otherwise, would be to compound inequality in our education during an unprecedented time with so much changing.

Successfully pilot and fund a Materials Fund for Engineering and Art project based classes. Jeffrey Rodriguez has found success this year by asking for funds from VPUE, The School of Engineering, The School of Humanities and Sciences, ASSU Senate, and the ASSU Exec cabinet to start a course materials fund for art and engineering. That fund has been postponed until next year because of COVID-19. We are dedicated to continuing this project and to expand the funds allocated to this program. Currently, the pilot will be $5,000 and we hope to bolster it by another $15,000 through department and donor fundraising.

LGBTQIA+ INCLUSIVE CAMPUS

Increase funding for the QT Umbrella Fund. This year was the inaugural year of the Queer and Trans (QT) Umbrella Fund. The purpose of the fund was to aid QT students with costs related to mental health support or gender affirmation services. The amount of students who applied was robust, indicating the need for this fund. On the other hand, the QT Fund was only able to match 60% of a student’s request. We commend the creation of the QT and support increased funding for next year.

Improve queer sexual and reproductive informational resources at SHPRC. Currently, there are no pamphlets related to queer sexual health at SHPRC. We would like to collaborate with Weiland and SHPRC in order to develop more support for QT folx.

Expand outreach for the Weiland Health Initiative. This year marked the first year that Weiland existed as a separate entity rather than being housed under CAPS. Due to this split, however, few students are aware of its existence and the resources it provides. We would like to increase the visibility of Weiland to match that of CAPS. This would also reduce the client load that CAPS experiences as QT students are able to connect with queer- and gender-affirming specialists at Weiland.

Hire a CST counselor with additional training in queer- and gender-affirming awareness. With the release of the results from the AAU’s Climate survey, we know that the QT community is disproportionately impacted by sexual assault. This training needs to classify misgendering and transphobia as forms of microaggression/assault. We recognize that there are unique challenges that surface and want to respect the intersectionality of QT students. As such, we believe that hiring a CST counselor with specialized training will not only address the current lack of resources, but provide a space for QT students to feel more comfortable while accessing resources.

Emphasize the importance of queer- and gender-affirming training for faculty and staff. While training exists through the Weiland Health Initiative, most faculty and staff do not receive this training because it is optional. Since this year was Weiland’s first year as an independent organization from CAPS, we are not sure how well-known this training was as well. Next year, we would like to strongly encourage this training for all faculty and staff as well as work towards mandating this training in the future.

Eliminate the binary in Stanford documents. Gender identity is not a binary; it is a spectrum. We would like to replace “his or her” with “their” in order to respect gender non-conforming students. It is known that misgendering is harmful and contributes to stress that QT students experience through microaggressions. We would like to affirm the diversity of gender and have that represented in all Stanford documents.

Support Gender Inclusive Stanford in their efforts to address infrastructure challenges. Some of GIS’ initiatives include 1) making a map of Stanford’s gender neutral bathrooms and ensuring that there is at least one in each building; and 2) improving the housing draw and room assignment process for undergrads and grads so that gender non-conforming (GNC) students can be matched with safe and affirming roommates. We believe in the value of these projects and would like to advocate for these projects in our meetings with admin.

RACIAL JUSTICE

Establish an inter-departmental search committee to increase faculty diversity and commence cluster hires. AAAS, CSRE and the School of Earth have all had their affiliates ask the administration for cluster hires of faculty of color. We endorse Who’s Teaching Us’ demand for at least five tenure-track faculty who study race and ethnicity. This is made especially important by the impending budget cuts, which threaten the position of the lecturers who teach the core course of both AAAS and CSRE. We want Stanford to commit to the values set out in its initiative IDEAL and ensure its faculty are as diverse as its student body.

Departmentalize African and African American Studies. AAAS teaches students about the untold history of Blackness and systems of oppression in a community of like-minded peers who are dedicated to advancing racial justice at Stanford and beyond. Despite AAAS existing for the last 51 years, it is still not a department, which greatly reduces the powers the program has - it is unable to hire or retain faculty and graduate students, and thus, has a limited course offering. AAAS lacks the faculty and funding to function as well as the other Black studies programs offered throughout the nation. Vice Provost Harry Elam made a promise to establish a committee to take the first steps towards departmentalization - in our term, we hope to see the committee finalize its recommendations and submit an application to the Dean of Humanities and Sciences.

Maintain and increase funding for community centers. Our community centers are a vital part of Stanford - they serve as welcoming spaces for the most marginalized members of our community and ensure that everyone feels like they belong at Stanford. With looming budget cuts, we need to protect our community centers. Many of the community center staff are short-term hires and if their contracts are not renewed, we will lose many of the essential staff. During the Long Range Planning process, we also will need Stanford to commit to increasing the funding for community centers and hiring more full-time staff. We plan to advocate strongly for community center funding during this years’ budget process and next year’s as well.

Disaggregate admissions data and increase outreach to minority prospective students. Though admissions data shows that 22% of admitted students are Asian American, we do not know how many of the 22% are from Southeast Asian communities. The reality is, there are less than five Lao students and less than five indigenous Khmer students. We call on Stanford to disaggregate admissions data and to cultivate a more diverse Asian American student body.

SUPPORTING WORKERS' RIGHTS

Stanford needs to commit to providing pay continuance and support for all of its workers during this crisis. Period. Stanford Students for Workers’ Rights has been pushing for this and has led one of most effective campaigns we have ever seen at Stanford. The university cannot prioritize its own pockets over the members of our community who keep Stanford running. We will continue to fight alongside SWR and the union to ensure every campus worker is guaranteed pay continuance, as well as hazard pay, PPE, healthcare and paid sick leave. We will be meeting with the Provost in a few weeks to discuss both the short-term and long-term plans for this.

Establish clear lines of communication from administration to campus workers. From the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that students were notified of decisions even before workers and their families. This is unacceptable and leaves workers in the dark, unable to make decisions in the face of a crisis. There needs to be a representative from Stanford who can work with a point of contact from the respective unions such that information can be relayed reliably including to subcontracted workers -- Stanford has the responsibility to make sure all workers on this campus are informed and should communicate information to the workers’ unions, not just to the contractors. This communication needs to be: 1) timely, 2) translated to native languages for workers, and 3) responsive. Communication is a two-way street and input from the workers is invaluable. These clear lines of communication need to exist as a standard, and not only during times of crises.

Extend transportation for campus workers living in East Palo Alto. Stanford should be doing everything it can to minimize travel costs for workers. This includes an EPA extension so that workers don’t have to drive to campus, pay for parking, or spend fare on the bus from EPA to the Palo Alto station. Moreover, an extension would be a way to implement equitable and sustainable transportation and reduce total daily trips - which was a big part of the GUP process. Currently, this was a project that was suspended because Stanford Transportation pulled out- however, the ASSU will have the funds to ensure it happens next year and is currently in communication with Stanford Transportation to make sure it happens.

Develop policies that will continue to stand outside of crises. This moment has really exposed all the weaknesses and shortcomings of the Stanford administration. Stanford refused to consider its contracted workers as its own workers, they said that they wouldn’t be able to afford paying its workers, or provide them with the necessary life-saving PPE. This isn’t unique to this moment - the administration has never committed to fully supporting its workers, no matter who they are contracted by. Stanford’s going to be permanently changed after this crisis - and we want to ensure that support for all service workers is a central part of the new Stanford. We want to see Stanford commit to modernizing the living wage to match the current living costs in the Bay Area, protecting workers from sexual harassment, and ensuring that every worker can access housing and healthcare. We want to ensure that workers are one of the communities considered in long range planning, especially when the General Use Permit application is once again opened, as they were excluded from the current work of the Affordability Task Force.

REFORMING + IMPROVING THE ASSU

Increasing student engagement.The ASSU is meant to represent the students of Stanford at all levels - whether they are undergrads, grads or postdocs - and we cannot do that unless students are actively aware of and involved with our processes. We plan to do this by engaging and working alongside student groups who are doing the most important work by addressing the needs of their community members; by actively recruiting and including more students into the ASSU decision-making bodies via the Executive Fellows, ASSU Special Committees and the Senate Associate Program and finally, gathering more feedback from the student body and using that to guide our work.

Maintaining institutional memory and building intergenerational movements.All elected positions within the ASSU - including our own - are only one year terms, which makes it very important for us to ensure our work builds off the ASSU administrations before us and builds foundations for those after us. We plan to strengthen the onboarding for the legislative bodies, particularly the Undergraduate Senate, by improving the transition course and documents and integrating the student senators and councillors into the wider ASSU ecosystem. For the Executive Cabinet, we plan to implement better documentation throughout the year that includes master project lists and communication spreadsheets.

Increase ASSU-wide accountability and cohesion.Stanford is very decentralized and it is easy for the same projects to be repeated because of the lack of communication. We plan to merge together the work that’s being done across the ASSU bodies by establishing quarterly all-body meetings. We also plan to establish accountability systems to ensure that ASSU members get the required work done in an efficient and timely manner.

Establish more clear external communication between the ASSU and the student body.In order to provide more updates to the general student body, we would like to work closely with the Stanford Daily and other student journalism organizations to report on our work and share our updates more widely. In our term, we would open Executive Cabinet meetings to all and invite student journalists to encourage transparency and accountability. We plan to send out more updates from the various ASSU bodies, as well as updating and maintaining the ASSU website and social media pages.

Implement a Constitutional Review Committee to edit and clarify the ASSU Constitution and bylaws.The ASSU Constitution and Bylaws govern the bodies and guide their work - but it needs to be updated often to better include the various roles of functions of the governing bodies. We want to start the work to bring constitutional amendments forth by next year’s election and plan to start a committee to review the constitution. We particularly want to focus on clarifying the powers of the executive cabinet, updating the constitution to be more gender-inclusive, implementing an ASSU-wide code of conduct, establishing an ASSU parliamentary committee and ensure that our constitution fits into the wider university and California legal structure.