GSC raises concerns about graduate union restrictions on booking event space

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) raised concerns at its Tuesday meeting about challenges faced by the Stanford Graduate Workers Union’s (SGWU) in booking White Plaza for an upcoming rally because it lacks student organization status.

The rally, which is in response to Stanford’s opposition to including fellows in the bargaining process, raised questions over how Stanford determines a “student organization,” said Emmit Pert, who is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in chemistry and a GSC at-large member. 

“The issue … is that the union would like to express an opinion to the University and the University is requesting that the union register as a voluntary student organization,” Pert said. Pert said White Plaza is a designated free speech zone and registering to use White Plaza would require the SGWU to “pay money to the university against whom they are negotiating.”

SGWU would be able to book White Plaza at no charge if it categorized itself as a voluntary student organization (VSO), though their status as students or workers is often at dispute. The union could book White Plaza for a fee if it were to go through formal booking channels for non-VSOs, Pert said.

The Daily has reached out to the University for comment on if they intend to waive White Plaza booking restrictions for SGWU.

Wagner Nors, who is a Ph.D. student in cellular and molecular physiology and SGWU representative, explained why SGWU intended to organize a rally.

The University excludes fellows from bargaining on the basis of its claim that fellows are not required to work to remain in the fellowship, Nors said. 

“It’s insane because if any fellow stopped going to lab or stopped doing the work that’s involved with their graduate work, they would be kicked out of their program,” Nors said.

Nors said that the SGWU is going through official routes to secure White Plaza for its rally, with help from Office of Student Engagement representative Steve Ross.

The GSC unanimously confirmed Chris West as the new Graduate School of Business (GSB) representative for the GSC’s open seat. West vowed to bridge a “noticeable gap between the GSB and the GSC” and ensure that the voices of GSB students, who represent 11% of the graduate population, are taken into account.

Jacob Benford J.D. ’24 and Tom Liu, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in physics, presented two event funding bills to the GSC for discussion. The first bill requests over $8,000 for the Graduate Fall Festival, to be held in Escondido Village Graduate Residences. Leslie Luqueño, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Education, said that the event would be open to 200 graduate students and that plus-ones must be registered partners of graduate students.

GSC at-large member Leon de Souza presented a funding bill for the Stanford Grad-Wide Masquerade Ball. De Souza said that he wanted to organize an event to bring various communities together as well as introduce other recent graduate students to the social dance community at Stanford. 

Social co-chairs Luqueño and Kavya Sreedhar, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, provided a recap of when the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour movie night on Oct. 19, where graduate students danced and sang along with Swift.


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