Proceedings of the February 25th, 2009 GSC meeting
1) 5:45 FOOD (thanks Shane!)
2) 6:00 Welcome with introductions and Announcements (Polina)
i. Please be aware that all meetings are audio recorded and will be made available on the GSC website.
ii. Approve minutes from the last meeting (2/18/09)
iii. Winter retreat will be in San Francisco this Saturday, February 28th.
3) 6:05 Funding (Lan)
i. Israeli Student Organization
ii. Pakistanis at Stanford
4) 6:10 Programming (Justin and Adam S.)
5) 6:15 Flicks (Zeng)
6) 6:20 Senate Report (Ryan)
7) 6:25 ASSU Update (Jonny and Fagan)
i. Service Group Bill
ii. Czar appointments
8) 6:30 NomCom Report (Eric)
9) 6:50 Public Financing Bill (Ryan, Jonny and Fagan)
10) 7:10 NAGPS Lobbying (Fen and Ryan)
11) 7:30 New Business (Polina)
Voting members present:
At large 1: Aleksandra Korolova (proxy Adam Sciambi present)
At large 2: Adam Beberg
At large 3: Nanna Notthoff
At large 4: Ryan Peacock
At large 5: Mary Van der Hoven
Earth Sciences: Justin Brown
Education: Shane Moise
Engineering 1: Polina Segalova
Humanities: George Bloom
Law: Andrew Park
Medicine: Maria Spletter
Natural Sciences: Fen Zhao
Social Sciences: Hanna Muenke
Voting members not present:
Business: Rick Thielke
Engineering 2: Addy Satija
Other people present: Moran Bercovici, Jonny Dorsey, Fagan Harris, Simone Manganelli, Donna Winston, A. Danowitz, Matt McLaughlin, Etosha Cave, Lan Wei, Eric Osborne
1) 5:45 FOOD (thanks Shane!)
2) 6:07 Welcome with introductions and Announcements (Polina)
i. Please be aware that all meetings are audio recorded and will be made available on the GSC website.
ii. Approved minutes from the last meeting (2/18/09) by consensus.
iii. Winter retreat will be in San Francisco this Saturday, February 28th.
iv. Any items for grad announce should be sent to Polina by Tuesday.
3) 6:08 Funding (Lan)
i. Israeli Student Organization – having a party on March 7th in Havana Room. Teamed up with Jewish organizations in Bay Area. Having a costume party for Purim, with DJ and Israeli band. Most of funding goes to equipment for band. Some money from Jewish organization for DJ and snacks. Starts at 8pm. Recommended $2400 initially. Now realized that they need to pay to rent stage and light from Events and Labor services, and would like to add $400 to the request for that. Fen asks for details about the equipment rental – it’s some pretty extensive stuff, in comparison to the equipment needed for the Stoplight party. Fagan thinks it’s strange that the band doesn’t have some of that equipment for themselves, concerned about possible reflection on band quality. Group representative thinks they practice at a studio as a hobby, where most of the equipment is available. Total rental for Stoplight party music stuff (like amps) from SCN was only about $200, so would like to recommend that the group and band re-consider whether the expensive rentals are absolutely necessary.
Mary suggests that the group get info from Fen about what she got from SCN for equipment, and then ask the band if that’s sufficient.
Polina requests that they get more info about equipment rental, and come back next week to ask for the appropriate amount. Representative concerned that they wouldn’t have enough time to wait for us to talk next week, need to have plans solidified now in order to work with the band and advertise the event. We aren’t anti-equipment rental, just want to be sure that it’s the best deal, and if that if it is, we would likely approve it next week.
For now, considering $1200 of the original request (all but equipment rental) plus $400 for stage/lights, and $300 for sound equipment (covering what Fen got for the Stoplight Party). Giving $1900 passes by consensus, and they can ask us for more money next week after solidifying rental plans if necessary.
ii. Pakistanis at Stanford. Having speaker Shuja Nawaz, who is a political and strategic analyst. Last week asked for $1000 for room rental, didn’t have events and labor services estimate at the time for equipment and technician. Funding Committee recommends $900 for that stuff. Giving $900 passes by consensus.
4) 6:25 NomCom Report (Eric)
Filled all but three or four spots on University Committees this year, about 98% of committee seats. Did make an appointment to Board of Judicial Affairs recently, but haven’t actively been pursuing other open spots this quarter, given that they already spent many months previously doing so.
One new thing this year was a big training dinner they held in November, with 90 of the 150 total people appointed to committees attending. Had some speakers, and talked about roles of students on committees.
Tried to institute a better system of reporting this year, but it’s still only half in place. There have been some misunderstandings in the last few months in regards to reporting. Initially Eric was told that students didn’t really file reports and that the GSC and Senate didn’t really read them, and wanted to change this to create more of a back and forth. Couldn’t get it together this quarter, and they finish their term soon.
Looking for a new NomCom chair to start first day of spring quarter, which ExComm committee is mostly working on. Thinks it would be helpful if new NomCom person met with GSC and Senate to figure out exactly what it is that is desired in terms of reporting, because the Bylaws are not clear on this. Hopes that new person will continue the training event, which was successful this year, and move forward on a reporting system.
Nanna wonders whether it would be possible for us just to have the contact information of the people on the committees, and then we could get in touch with the ones that are of interest. Eric thinks this information is up on the website. Nanna also recommends getting people who came to the training to give feedback for next year.
Jonny does encourage getting in touch with committee members, but thinks that a system of passing through the chairs is probably best, rather than individual students getting in touch with the members.
Adam B. says that a lot of the committees are very secretive and can’t report, and some of the other ones we have members on anyway, so we get updates. Thinks going through NomCom chair to reach members when desired is best.
Ryan thinks NomCom should be able to decide how things go, and not let outside bodies have too much influence, as they should be separate. Thinks also that for even secretive committees, some information may be releasable and should encourage that.
Justin reminds us that some of the members of the grad relevant committees have come to talk to us in the past, would like to see that happen again.
Fagan thinks there needs to be clearer separation of the legislative bodies from NomCom and students on committees, given that students were selected in order to exercise their own good judgment.
Mary wonders about why ASSU has oversight over NomCom but why we then don’t have say on the committees and results. Eric points out that we only oversee NomCom, which has the goal of placing students on University committees, but the committees by themselves are independent entities, and include faculty as well. These multiple components make oversight difficult sometimes. Eric shares example of committee where the chair passed away, students on committee sought out Eric to look into finding a new chair, but all he can accomplish is choosing the student members.
Eric thinks that once they get new NomCom committee, will encourage the whole group meeting with GSC to discuss expectations. Polina recommends that this happen at the Spring GSC retreat.
Polina recognizes that we mostly care about reports from particular committees, but encourages people on all committees to write reports about what happened while they served on the committee to give to the next person taking that position, to get more of a history going.
Ryan thinks it would be good for GSC Chairs to be at training dinner, so that students know who they are. Thinks it’s pretty clear in guidelines that NomCom is only responsible for appointing students, but thinks the University needs to do more to manage their end, for example, having only one administrator overall to oversee committee formation. Polina thinks this is unlikely.
5) 6:45 Programming (Justin and Adam S.)
Moving along on Formal. GSPB is having Mafia event this Friday night with pizza and beer. On Thursday night there will be grad night here, will have trivia night, modeled after Rose and Crown events. Beer prizes available. They have planning meetings Tuesday at noon in room 121 in Old Union and there is lunch there. Basically if you have an idea, they can help make it happen.
6) 6:47 Flicks (Polina for Zeng)
Milk is showing this Sunday at 8pm. Zeng would like volunteers to help distribute donuts and juice at 7:30pm for the 8pm movie. Shane and Etosha volunteer to help.
7) 6:48 Senate Report (Ryan)
Ryan and Polina went to Undergrad Senate meeting yesterday. Yet again, a long meeting. A few key points:
– They gave the Service Division a thumbs up.
– Caps bill did not get majority. They had a very intense conversation about this, Polina and Ryan were disappointed about how the discussion went.
– Passed Public Financing scheme, with some amendments from Lucas, which we’ll consider later in the meeting.
Polina thinks we might be able to pass a caps bill if we try to do that for next year. They’re concerned about freedom of speech implications in bill, but thinks if we can work out more of the details, and then talk to Constitutional Council about concerns about freedom of speech, that they might approve it for next year.
Simone thinks that we should ask students to report their spending, so we get a sense of what they spend money on, even without official caps. They are supposed to do this already, but Polina thinks they don’t report accurately. Simone concerned if there’s already problems with reporting what will happen if there’s an official cap in place.
Fagan thinks there is some good will for passing caps, especially if we think about it for next year rather than trying to push it for this year.
Mary wonders about how this knowledge of campaign spending is disseminated. Etosha reports that all candidates need to submit a spending form, which the Daily often report.
Fagan asks how much Grad students spend on GSC seats, answer being zero. Senators tend to spend a few hundred. It’s really the Execs that are the big spenders.
Fen thinks that if the main betting chip is later salary for the Exec, that if it’s lower, people might keep spending down because there’s less of a financial reward for winning. Others think though that people are running for the prestige of the job, not necessarily the money. Right now total pay is $10,000 per Exec, some of which they move around to pay other Czars. Jonny says this is just a bit more than RAs get compensated, so thinks it’s fair. It does get some more people to run perhaps, who might otherwise seek out another job.
8) 6:59 ASSU Update (Jonny and Fagan)
i. Service Group Bill- This is basically an Undergrad Special Fee to create a group that puts together services for students that previously Execs had spent their time on, but want our approval too.
Also encourage us to check out bystander.stanford.edu, and to give any feedback on how it might better relate to Grad students.
12 for, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining. Passes.
ii. Czar appointments. About people that they’d like to appoint to help them out in specific areas. Not sure if we need to do approve this, but voting just in case. There are no objections, so it passes by consensus.
9) 7:03 Public Financing Bill (Ryan, Jonny and Fagan)
Can get the funding for this as a payable out of next year’s exec budget, so will be funded from that source for the current election cycle.
Undergrads made a few changes, and did approve this bill at the Senate meeting yesterday.
Adam B. concerned about this bill, especially since the caps bill didn’t pass. Thinks that by giving money now, we’re just pouring gas on a fire, because students are accepting a $1500 cap by accepting the money, and thinks they’re not going to be able to compete with someone spending much more.
Mary asks for specific examples of what Execs have done in the past to win that we might need to consider in our regulations. One story is that there are two factions in the Senate, and they in the past manipulated the fair campaign rules when they had an Elections Commission on their side. Mary doesn’t think that someone spending $1500 should be at such a huge disadvantage compared to someone who could spend more. It was only recently that spending got so out of control, and groups did win when spending lower amounts of money.
Polina asks Jonnny and Fagan how much they spend. It was $3700 all told, with about $2000 towards t-shirts. Fagan thinks that you need some money to be competitive, but it’s not just money that lets you win. The $1500 is a deliberate choice as an amount they think will allow candidates to be competitive. Given that the money is coming out of future Exec budget, not any of our money, think it’s worth a gamble. Fagan thinks Public Financing is the honey, while the caps would be vinegar. Can work with either or both.
Polina in support of this bill, thinks Fagan hit the important points.
Fen thinks it’s worth trying, that we’re not losing anything, that it might encourage grad students to run.
Etosha thinks that it’s kind of late, given that petitioning ends on March 1st, in just a few days, so concerned that it may not be fair to change the petitioning rules and signature requirements now. Briana isn’t here, but did say at yesterday’s Senate meeting that she was in support of this Bill, getting the word out, and letting people try to meet what they need to. Okay with the new supervisory role this gives the Elections Commission, though Etosha disagrees with this.
George thinks caps bill makes more sense overall to make things fair, but Fagan doesn’t think it’s going to get through Undergrad Senate for this year, especially in the current time fram
David thinks winning the race with $750 (what public financing would give) is possible, $1500 (total spending cap if accepting public financing) should definitely be possible. Also thinks that they should be able to get petitions done in time. Fagan thinks it’s a good option to allow students to spend some of their own money if they so choose, part of the compromise of the bill.
George thinks that it would be very frustrating for students if $1500 is not enough to be competitive, so not worth doing if they’d be likely to lose without being able to spend more.
Adam B. thinks that if we don’t put caps in now, they’re never going to happen. Also, thinks that it’s a problem that co-terms count towards the required “grad signatures” because reaching them doesn’t really show reaching out to the larger body of grad students here who were not here for Undergrad.
Briana sent an email out last night to ASSU candidates to make them aware of the potential changes with this bill, so they do at least know now of the possibility. Might be missing some late entrants, but thinks that people who need to know probably do.
Andrew wonders how we’re going to reach the students who didn’t enter because of financial constraints, who would particularly benefit from this change. Yes, it’s a bit short notice, but Polina thinks we might as well try.
6 for yes, 3 opposed, 4 abstaining. Does not pass.
Polina asks for major concerns for people voting no or abstaining.
Justin abstained because he thinks the system still requires too much emphasis on spending $1500, which some people can’t meet. Mary thinks it’s good that those students would at least get $750 to spend. Justin thinks we really need to have overall caps for everybody to level the field.
Nanna thinks we need caps for everyone, doesn’t think $750 is enough and that not everyone has the $750 extra to spend. Also thinks the details of full caps bill were better. Last logistical issue is that officially we don’t approve the minutes until next Wednesday, which would be past the current petitioning deadline.
Andrew thinks that if the point is to allow people without means to join, and the goal is to get new people, we really don’t have time to make this happen. Also thinks it’s too late to impose new campaign rules now.
Polina wonders whether it would be better if we pushed back the deadline to get petition signatures.
David doesn’t think the t-shirts (often the expensive part of the budget) are the deciding factor of the election, that he had more shirts made but that didn’t get him the win. Someone did approach David wanting to run if this campaign finance option goes through, thinks there may be others like that. Also doesn’t think it’d be a problem for a good candidate to get enough signatures.
Ryan conflicted about this bill right now. Thinks there are a few small things, including getting things in before the deadline. Also concerned about the rules, wonders whether anyone could challenge the timing of when this is applied.
Etosha wants to make sure that if the deadline is extended that it’s clear it is not because of Elections Commission. Will try to get in touch with Briana to see what she thinks.
Doesn’t seem that we need to vote on changes to the elections timeline.
If we change anything about the bill itself, then the Senate needs to revote next week, then it wouldn’t be approved until two weeks from yesterday, again too late, so should consider the bill as-is.
Fagan is really disappointed that this hasn’t passed right now, as this is an important issue to him. They’ve been working on this issue all year, including many meetings in the past few weeks to try to come to consensus. Doesn’t think that logistics should be stalling this at this point, that we should be voting for the bigger idea, and can make small changes later. Thinks the concerns brought up now should have been brought up earlier in the process. At the least, thinks we should approve things for next year, rather than letting the issue drop completely.
Etosha reports that they could extend petitioning for a week, until March 6th.
Ryan asks for whether there’s someone else who would change his/her vote following the discussion, to see if a 2/3 majority (necessary to overturn the previous vote that did not pass) would vote yes. Seems possible by straw poll.
Nanna moves to revote.
9 for, 1 against, 2 abstaining. The Public Financing Bill now passes.
10) 7:54 NAGPS Lobbying (Fen and Ryan)
Presentation about plans for Legislative Action Days this spring.
NAGPBS coordinates spring and fall lobbying trips to DC. Stanford hadn’t done these in last two years, but did go this past fall. They coordinate meetings with UC Davis (another California participant) to talk to CA representatives and senators. They try to focus on people representing nearby districts, or people who are on particularly relevant committees.
There are some suggested NAGPS wide issues to advocate about, but each person can focus on what they in particular care about and what most impacts their constituents.
Some recent issues:
– Research funding: increase funding agency budgets; green energy initiatives should start with universities.
– Loan programs for graduate education: recently, an undergrad loan program was renewed, but the grad aspect was not. Also, even grad loans are based on four year Undergrad timeline, which does not fit with grad school always. Representatives are not always knowledgeable about basic facts like this.
– Immigration: H1-B visa
– Healthcare: dependent healthcare is a big issue for California schools, interesting to talk to other schools about this as well, along with the representatives. One of the nearby representatives serves on both education and family concerns committees, and they’ll try to set up a meeting with him.
– Graduate stipends: return graduate stipends to tax exempt status. They did use to be tax exempt.
Adam B. thinks a bunch of these things have changed in the last few weeks, with stimulus money. Also a lot of recent issues with H1-B visa related to stimulus rules (for example, requiring those taking stimulus money to hire only US citizens). Right now, Universities are exempt from H1-B visa hiring quotas, so also want to make sure we don’t lose that.
Last time, they met with 3 members of congress in person. Met with staff members for 2 senators, 10 representatives for congressman, and Committee on Education and Labor. Had constructive conversations relating to all issues, and gathered information relating to current legislation.
Changes for this visit: New administration, democratic control of both houses of Congress, stimulus package affects funding agencies and University. Take lessons from last time and improve our advocacy.
Plan of attack: Meetings being scheduled in conjunction with UC Davis for CA reps and senators. Three pronged attack: Local area reps, members of Committee on Education and Labor, moderate democrats. Think this will have the greatest impact within the limited time frame.
Local people they’re seeking out:
Senators: Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein (latter already scheduled)
Representatives: Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren (Chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration), Jackie Speier, Mike Honda (Democratic Senior Whip), Lynn Wollsey, Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House).
Many democratic and republic members of the Committee on Education and Labor they’re looking for. George Miller (Chair) is in UC Davis’ district.
Moderate Democrats they’re seeking out:
Adam Schiff, Loretta Sanchez (Gubernatorial candidate?), Jane Harman, Pete Stark, Joe Baca, Jim Costa.
– Met with John Pearson to get additional info from I-center. Goals from them are as follows:
Maintain H1-B exempt status for the university.
Continue to improve user friendliness of electronic data keeping.
Minimum work permission for F2 visas (dependent visas – can’t earn money at a job, or volunteer for a job that someone would ordinarily be paid to do).
Prescreening for students going home for break, so they have a better chance to get back from breaks in time.
Figure out if international students can accept public dependent healthcare (Concerns that they can get onto plans like Health Families, but that may count as taking “social welfare” which then might lead to later visa problems.)
– Input from GSC?
Nanna wonders about priorities. They generally start with immigration and visa issues, because some of those are very particular to graduate students, which means that other people are not addressing them as much. Probably after that would be dependent healthcare. In general, they look up what the person they’ll be meeting with does ahead of time and customize the presentation to that.
For Mary, important thing would be science and technology, because funding for that affects funding now and for getting a job later.
Up soon too: NAGPS Western Regional Conference, at UC Davis, April 4-6, 2009. Purpose is to interact with other grad student leaders on a range of topics pertaining to graduate education. There’s a call for topics right now. Would like a few people to go from here, and we can just drive up.
Mary, Nanna and Simone would be interested in being involved with this. We’ll also talk more about this at the retreat.
11) 8:23 New Business (Polina)
i. Andrew is doing survey on Grad student dining in Munger, will send out link to us in the next week that we should send out.