Proceedings of the March 12th, 2008 GSC meeting
1) 5:45 FOOD (thanks Anwei!)
2) 6:00 Welcome with introductions (Kristina)
3) 6:01 Announcements (Kristina)
i. Please be aware that all meetings are recorded and will be made available on the GSC website.
ii. Approve minutes from the last meeting (3/5/08).
iii. Need volunteers for Grad Night at Flicks (Sweeney Todd!) this Sunday at 6:30pm.
iv. No GSC meeting over spring break, and keep an eye out for emails about next week.
v. Thanks to Melahn for organizing the fun parts the retreat, and to Kristina and George for the business parts!
4) 6:10 Funding (Polina)
i. Asha for Education
5) 6:15 Programming update (Adam S. and Justin)
6) 6:20 Shuttle Funding Request (Mondaire)
7) 6:30 Voting on winners of Grad Life Challenge (Melahn)
8) 6:45 Elections Update (Ivette)
9) 6:50 Executive Slate intros (David and Greg, Priyanka and Jack)
10) 7:10 Grad formal transportation (Tim)
11) 7:20 Stipends discussion (Adam B.)
12) 7:35 New Business
Voting members present:
At large 2: Hanna Muenke
At large 3: Kristina Keating
At large 5: Polina Segalova
Business: Rhyan Uy
Earth Sciences: Kyle Anderson
Education: Michelle Brown
Engineering 1: Melahn Parker
Engineering 2: Zeng Fan
Humanities: George Bloom
Law: Andrew Park
Medicine: Yana Hoy
Natural Sciences: Fen Zhao
Social Sciences: Euan Robertson
Voting members not present:
At large 4: Lan Wei
At large 1: Maxim Afanasyev
Others in attendance: Donna Winston, Adam Beberg, Alex Ene, Justin Brown, Annemarie Baltay, Ryan Woessner, Jon Tomas Gretarsson, Maria Spletter, Priyanka Sharma, Jack Cackler, David Gobaud, Greg Goldof, Matt McLaughlin, Matt McDonald, Aruh Hazeghi
1) 5:45 FOOD (thanks Anwei!)
2) 6:00 Welcome with introductions (Kristina)
3) 6:05 Announcements (Kristina)
i. Please be aware that all meetings are recorded and will be made available on the GSC website.
ii. Approved minutes from the last meeting (3/5/08) by consensus.
iii. Need volunteers for Grad Night at Flicks (Sweeney Todd!) this Sunday at 6:30pm. Priyanka and Jack volunteer, as does John.
iv. No GSC meeting next week or over spring break. April 2nd will be next meeting.
v. Thanks to Melahn and Fen for organizing the fun parts the retreat, and to Kristina and George for the business parts!
4) 6:04 Funding (Polina)
i. Asha for Education. We’ve approved money in the past, now being asked to switch line items. Last time asked for colors ($3700) and Security ($1160), but those costs are down to $3600 and $484 respectively, so want to move some of that money to other line items. Want to use it for janitorial ($512), honoraria ($200), and miscellaneous ($74) Event will be on April 6th. Switching $786 passes by consensus.
5) 6:09 Programming update (Adam S. and Justin)
Ticket office charged more than expected, due to more tickets, and extra charges for people who used their credit card. This leaves the formal at $6400 overbudget, which should be the final amount. Lesson for next year is to use SSE to sell tickets. Will talk about this again when Adam S. gets here, as he has the presentation.
Next week, Chris Griffith and others will look at OSA reform for grad students, perhaps branching off and forming own rules, separate from Undergrads. Kristina, George and Justin talked to her already to try and come up with necessary issues to address. List so far: off campus students, wristbanding, alcohol, transportation. Goal is to make programming for graduate students easier. The list so far is problems come across by GSPB and GSC with unnecessary steps towards putting on events.
Also have a funding request for a party bus costing $840 to go from San Francisco back to campus on April 5th. Would fit 110 people. Similar to Annemarie’s request in Grad Life Challenge, so we’ll revisit this afterwards, depending on that conversation
6) 6:16 Shuttle Funding Request (Mondaire)
Mondaire has withdrawn his request for the Spring Break airport shuttle, as the Undergrad Senate will subsidize any cost remaining after ticket sales. Grad students will be charged $15, undergrads charged $10. We will not be subsidizing this.
7) 6:17 Grad formal transportation (Tim).
Tim not here, Donna will look into this matter in more detail. We might get emails asking about our opinion and experience.
8) 6:17 Voting on winners of Grad Life Challenge (Melahn)
i. San Francisco bar nights: Annemarie Baltay
– Recommended by committee
– Charter buses three times a term to go to SF for an evening. We are currently considering this only for spring quarter.
– Two busses each time
– GSC recommends $5 copay, which would come back to GSC, and could go towards more busses if successful.
– Budget $3,550 (3 bus rentals, $990 each, Marketing $130, Leader stipend $150, 2 x Assistant stipend $150)
– They hadn’t put in for co-pay because that creates more hassle of needing to check people in.
– Positive of co-pay means that we get feedback each time about ridership, etc.
– Maybe have two assistants, such that it’s easier to check in and have a knowledgeable rider on each bus. Perhaps consider phrasing cost for assistants as having $50 per bus per night to cover the additional assistant needed if an additional bus were chartered.
– We’ll see the other proposals, then vote at the end.
ii. Stanford Grad Social Hours: Moshe Malkin
- Recommended by committee
- Buy a keg of beer each Friday at the 750 around 9pm before parties start
- Provide a focus for interaction before parties and encourage people to mingle, perhaps get groups together to go out later.
- Budget $5000, allowed up to 16 kegs over spring quarter at $300 each = $4800 plus $200 marketing. This would allow for a second keg to be added on some weeks.
- Pub would handle serving the keg for that price, at no additional cost to students.
- Our questions: Should we provide food? Is this redundant? Would it reach a wide population? Does it meet the goals of GSC to just serve alcohol? Could we subsidize food instead? Would the 750 be willing to serve some fries during the event. Could there be honorarium for people to be at GCC and give out drink tickets (this was a stumbling block for GSPB grad night)? Would there be anywhere else on campus that would be better to hold it?
- There is a suggestion to have a midweek keg as well, but seems that this would be more about straight up drinking, rather than encouraging the getting together afterwards that could happen with the Friday event.
- Maybe have music as well.
- Maybe give kegs to departments to help with their TGIF, encourage them to mix with other areas.
- Maybe use money to fund honorarium for music groups performing, though worries that may not be enough of a draw.
- Kristina uncomfortable with just spending the money straight up on alcohol.
- Maybe work with GSPB to organize music part.
- GSPB could perhaps add in their food/drink tickets, which would allow for getting sodas or something instead of the beer.
- Alex reports that the 1 or 2 drink tickets weren’t enough of a draw, and that a keg might be more of a draw.
- Maybe have bar cut-off and people can order what they want up until that limit is reached.
- The fact that people might be willing to buy other things is why the bar was willing to do this for $300, so they may not go for too many other freebies.
- Suggestion to give out $300 for trial and then report and reevaluate?
Taking a break for executive slate at 6:50
At 7:03 come back.
There will be two other groups who are likely to be recommended, but the committee would like them to present to the GSC.
Kristina wants to table the Social Hours, Melahn objects, needs 2/3 majority to override.
2 for, 8 against, 2 abstaining. Does not pass, original proposal will be tabled until next meeting.
Voting on first proposal with San Francisco bus trips.
$3550 requested for three bus trips to San Francisco. Passes by consensus. The first event will likely occur on April 5th, as requested by Justin.
Voting on trial run for social hour proposal, at a cost of $300. 2 objections, 1 for desire for more money for band, 1 for lack of plans. Decision to consider this one on its own, and then consider separately giving more money for a band.
10 for, 2 opposed, 0 abstaining. Giving $300 passes.
Now, considering giving more money for music to the social hour group. $250 for music, $20 for flyers. Voting on $270. Suggestion to use Facebook for free for advertising. No objections, passes by consensus.
As said, we are giving money for just the first event, we’ll see how that goes and will then re-hear proposal to hold more of them.
Finish part two of the discussion at 7:15.
8) 6:50 Executive Slate intros (David and Greg, Priyanka and Jack)
They are all running for ASSU Executive Slate and would like to hear more about issues affecting graduate students, as they would represent all students on campus.
– Priyanka is currently Undergraduate senate chair so bringing policy side to it. Also have experiences with running programming, groups.
– David is running for president, has experience as president for computer group, now looking to come back to politics.
– David and Greg are co-terms – it’s been awhile since grad students have run for ASSU exec.
– David brings up many issues that we’ve worked on recently, like dependent health care, that they are aware of.
– Fen brings up issues such that the ASSU has a shared pool of money that grad students should also benefit from, but grad students don’t go to Row parties, for example. Priyanka suggests separate grad parties, focus on 750, perhaps start with smaller events. David also suggests grad student targeted events, though on a larger scale, such as concerts.
– Reminder to focus on issues affecting grad students as discussion, rather than as Q&A – those details will come out later.
– Rhyan points out that there is lots of diversity among graduate students, but can be hard to figure out those different needs, given low voter turnout.
– Justin would like to know more about what ASSU exec does exactly.
– Michelle comments that grad students may not have connection with Stanford as a whole, more department focused.
Yana reports that grad students have concerns of high cost housing replacing low cost housing, and that housing being built may not be reflecting student desires.
– Question about how to focus programming to grad students. Fen suggests focusing on families.
7:02 back to Grad life challenge
9) 7:15 Elections Update (Ivette)
Have 5 people so far running, in different departments, another 2 deciding, but that includes some of us already in GSC. There was an info session today, with minimal attendance. Encouragement for interested students to consider coming to meetings prior to election to see what we’re about. There are more flyers to hand out. Ivette has made new handbook, will run by chairs.
Ryan needs Go-Pass referendum to put on ballot. Most pro and cons for things to vote on are updated (Adam B. and Polina did so for Special Fees), Kristina will do that for Go-Pass.
11) 7:18 Stipends discussion (Adam B.)
– RA/TAs are employees of Stanford
– Financial Aid cost of living numbers may only include “expenses related to the cost of attendance,” so this doesn’t include things like cars, cell phone, etc.
– Financial aid estimated numbers for cost: $2430 per month for those on campus, $2916 off campus, $500 per year in travel, is $2715 necessary post tax per month. Again, this does not include non-direct costs.
– Our survey suggested students need $3000 a month for actual costs, including the non-direct costs.
– Financial aid agrees that we’re correct on what we actually spend, and we recognize that they can’t legally include many of those in their estimates.
Adam B. created outlook for next 18 months based on assortment of numbers, which we go over now.
Second column is how much you would get each month after tax at minimum stipend.
Next four columns are estimated differences between income and estimated costs of living, using 4 different measures of inflations, and cost estimates from financial aid office (FAO) and GSC.
Net 12m cost of PhD is based only on sum of last 12 months of column, based on 08-09 minimum stipends. Even at lowest inflation, have a net loss of $7177 (FAO estimate) or $10771 (GSC) over the 12 months. $29,050 would be post-tax amount we’d need to break even, based on these numbers.
About 2004, buying power was about okay, but has plummeted since then.
Adam will be meeting with engineering office soon to talk about stipends.
International issue, which faces 35% of grads: Can’t work, spouse can’t work, can’t get loans, can’t get internships.
– Do nothing – grad’s horrible financial situation will decline further and faster
– Do nothing about salary, but educate – make everyone aware of the costs of Stanford, start job program, revoke one-day work limits, get a food bank on campus
– Take on minimum at school level – requires more people, and H&S would still be poor.
– Take on minimum salary with provost – requires confrontation of provost, and mobilization of the grad population. Did this in past for housing, dependent health care.
– Provost and school levels, w/ education and mobilization (all of the above).
George and Kristina met with Provost last week, and he does understand this is an issue. His major concerns are current economy. 70% of research at Stanford is funded nationally, and that’s probably dropping. Less funds coming in makes it a difficult time to raise stipends, as that would lead to even fewer admits, make it hard for faculty to do their work. Faculty senate very aware of this, have personally lost students due to lack of affordability.
Maria’s issue is that her national grant has a lower stipend amount as part of it, so her department then needs to kick in to meet the minimum, so even though she’s gotten a big grant, department also needs to come up with some money, and would get harder if required minimum stipend was hire.
We’ve made some progress, with 5.75% increase for next year, better than the previous 3% increase, but still not match inflation.
Philosophical question of whether Stanford should be free (examples of law school, Undergrads, where you take a hit with an expected outcome).
Fen’s issue of recent staff layoffs at SLAC due to government budget cuts, might affect her as well, especially if they need to pay more.
Rhyan brings up issues for international students – J1 visa allows some working after a delay, also seems to be some work-around with zero credit courses. Disagrees that Stanford should be free.
Euan argues that degrees are different – if you’re working on a PhD, you’re in a different boat than the professional schools. Your quality of research would go down if you’re forced to work too. Especially if you’re coming in expecting funding, and then you end up needing to take out loans, that’s an issue.
Alex – costs and benefits of being in engineering with a paycut, as compared to what could be accomplished via an industry job.
Andrew – University should be upfront about costs.
Adam – should consider ourselves employees. Stanford takes our intellectual property, etc. Faculty senate recognizes that students needing to work separate jobs is taking away from focus on research.
Maria – Especially going into academia, the prospect of higher pay later is not so great, so should not be paying for grad school.
Given that we’re running out of time for the meeting, try to focus on the action points, and be brief.
George – thinks grad school is supposed to suck, so it should be liveable, with pay prospects later. Faculty and others aren’t get 5% increase, so we should be glad we’re getting that.
Fen – other Universities may not be paying much. Compared to our peer groups, we’re doing okay, it seems.
Kristina – thinks advocacy should be done at a school level. How stipend increases will affect students and faculty seems to vary by school, so more effective to target individually.
Yana – agree with Maria that we don’t necessarily have great financial prospects afterwards.
Melahn would like to see student activism, and would see that as a sign of unhappiness with salary.
Michelle – Main question is whether we’re losing students to other schools. She reported higher offers from places with lower costs of living, which might be useful to show Stanford what students are deciding between. Letters with stipend offers have gone out, but maybe get admits information about actual budget and costs so they can make an informed decision. If they have issues, might hit home for University that they’re losing admits.
Euan – thinks University is not entirely forthright with costs and taxes. For visas, University sends letter that stipend is enough to live on, so if that is not the case, that should be made clear.
-Talk to financial aid office about updating their website to include tax costs.
-Perhaps make students aware that they can’t really spend at recommended amounts, or they will end up in debt. Encourage budgeting.
– Suggestion is not to rally the provost right now, since things won’t change till next year. Keep talking to individual schools, as they can make their own decisions.
– Will educate existing and current students, make proposed budgets.
– Suggestion not to include the price of gold on graphs.
– Helpful for students to be aware of budgeting, be aware if they are spending more than they’re bringing in.
12) 8:08 New Business
No new business, adjourned.