Widgets Magazine

Grads oppose Rains changes

Last night’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) meeting was cut short when some council members, enraged by Student Housing’s recently announced plans to convert five Rains apartment buildings from graduate to undergraduate housing next year, left early to attend a town hall in protest of the change.

The graduate student community quickly organized an opposition meeting after Student Housing on Friday announced the proposed change, which would displace approximately 38 of the 800 graduate students from Rains apartment buildings.

“This move is unacceptable,” wrote Robert Hennessy, a GSC member, in an e-mail to graduate students. Hennessy is a doctoral student in electrical engineering and a Rains college assistant (CA). “The logic behind the move is tenuous at best.”

In an e-mail to the residents of the buildings planned for conversion, Michael L. VanFossen, a senior associate director of Student Housing, explained that a deficit of spaces for undergraduates prompted the decision.

“We want to associate [undergraduates] with an undergraduate residence hall. Because of the close proximity of [Rains] to Mirrielees, it is ideally suited for this initiative,” VanFossen wrote. He told The Daily that students living in Rains were consulted before Housing reached its decision.

Rodger Whitney, the executive director of Student Housing, said in an e-mail to The Daily that the opening of Munger this fall “essentially met basic demand for housing for graduate students,” even with some vacancies remaining. By converting part of Rains for undergraduates, Housing hopes to consolidate previous graduate vacancies and use them for a small group of undergraduates while still meeting grad student demand.

Whitney said plans would be finalized before the graduate housing lottery opens on Wednesday.

Housing said it would allow displaced graduate students in buildings 237 and 238 to renew their contracts as long as they are willing to move to a different Rains apartment by the end of summer.

Additionally, demand from undergraduates returning from abroad fall quarter study may call for the relocation of graduate residents in buildings 234, 235 and 236 for winter quarter. There will be an official decision regarding these buildings by early October. Boxes and moving assistance would be provided for all displaced residents, officials said.

Hennessy argued that such a change would disrupt the lives of graduate students living in Rains next year, especially as CA-sponsored events in mixed graduate-undergraduate housing would require wristbands and verification of attendees’ ages for events where alcohol is served. Rains CAs learned about the change in housing arrangements only after what they called eviction notices were sent, they said.

“This is a big slap in the face to grad students,” said Justin Brown, a doctoral student in geophysics.

The GSC will hold an emergency session on Sunday at 4 p.m. to discuss counteracting the change in housing.

E-mail, Not for Life

The GSC also addressed on Wednesday the University’s decision to reverse the @stanford.edu-for-life promise announced in October by IT Services and ASSU President David Gobaud. The program, which promised to indefinitely forward all messages sent to alumni Stanford e-mail addresses to non-Stanford inboxes, was reversed last quarter, Gobaud said. Members of the Class of 2009 were notified this week.

“In reality, IT Services can only speak for the technology aspects of such a decision,” wrote Nancy Ware, an ITS spokesperson, in an e-mail to The Daily. “It was premature for IT Services to verify that this change could happen.”

Ware said several departments on campus considered reversing the offer, and ultimately did so, because “the University needs to be able to make a distinction between those who are currently students, faculty and staff versus alumni.”

She said a new e-mail suffix, @alumni.stanford.edu, would be available alumni — a slight change from the current @stanfordalumni.org suffix offered by the Alumni Association.

Gobaud, a coterminal student in computer science, told the GSC he has contacted Provost John Etchemendy numerous times since October. Gobaud said Etchemendy ignored requests to involve students in the policy discussion, but is currently in e-mail discussion with the executive.

Etchemendy did not immediately return a request for comment.

The reversal is “a significant step backward for Stanford,” Gobaud said.

In other business, the council approved funding for Stanford Classics in Theater, Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics (AHA!) and the Hong Kong Student Association.

The Council also met with representatives from Cardinal Free Clinics, whose bid for special fees received a 6-6 advisory vote from the council last week. The council re-voted to post a 9-3 opinion alongside the clinics’ special fees bid.

By the end of the hour, Council members were in a rush to adjourn and head to the Rains town hall meeting at Escondido Village.

  • undergrad

    Undergrads should move into Munger instead! It’d be AWESOME!