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Graduate students pack activism meeting

At a packed meeting, attendees learned about ways of joining a growing graduate student activist community, such as by advocating for increased diversity in graduate admissions and departments.

Sam Maull, a doctoral student in anthropology, organized the meeting. Speakers focused on issues of particular interest to graduate students, such as diversity in graduate admissions. Several larger movements such as Stanford Sanctuary Now and #AgainstHate were also represented.          

During a breakout session, attendees noted that undergraduates generally knew more about organizing.

“We are a sleeping giant on this campus,” Maull said. “There are 6 to 9,000 of us on this campus, and we don’t speak.”

Though an Inauguration Day protest, also organized by graduate students, occurred earlier that day, speakers stressed the importance of continued involvement.

“What good does protesting and marching do,” said Alan Ceaser, postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, speaking for #AgainstHate. “We have to stay committed past the march and the rally.”

“We need to put in the work to create a body to hold the administration accountable for things they are doing and the things they are not doing,” added Alejandro Schuler, a third-year Ph.D. student in biomedical informatics.

Schuller has served on a committee that advises graduate admissions for the School of Medicine. He expressed frustration at what he views as a risk-averse administration and perceived that he was “chewed out” for changes he suggested to his advisory committee.

Isaac Sevier M.S. ʼ17, concurred with Schuller, emphasizing that the department-by-department nature of graduate admissions may not always prioritize the diversity of applicants.

Sevier, who spoke on behalf of the Science Action Committee, noted that STEM fields in particular are not as diverse, and suggested changing the admissions process to explicitly acknowledge diversity.

Beyond issues more specific to graduate life, the meeting also included speakers from a sexual assault activism group on campus and Stanford Sanctuary Now.

Students looking to join organizing efforts within the graduate student community may contact stanfordgradwalkout ‘at’ gmail.com for more information.

This article has been updated. In a previous version, Isaac Sevier’s last name was misspelled, and he was mis-identified as a Ph.D. student. A potential change to the admissions process, asking applicants to describe what “diversity” means to them, was misattributed to Sevier. The Stanford Daily regrets these errors.

Contact Miguel Samano at msamano ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Miguel Samano

Miguel Samano is an opinions editor majoring in Comparative Literature and Chicanx-Latinx Studies. He loves sleeping, drinking night coffee, seeking out new books to read, and eating tacos with friends.
  • John R. Grout

    With the best of intentions, my undergraduate engineering school changed its admissions policies in the late 1970’s to “increase diversity”… and it was a spectacular failure: a very large percentage of the students with lower test scores flunked out.

    Admitting students without the ability to complete a STEM course hurts everyone: the university, the students who flunk out and the students who had increased class sizes and less faculty interaction.

    Community or junior colleges were the best option for these students: the ones who needed more assistance to come up to speed would get it and those who could not earn an A.S. could find a better area of study for them.

    The UC approach, which is to admit the best students from failed high schools without even basic skills and offer remedial classes BELOW the level of a GED, is both poor education and poor public policy. The state should be monitoring poorly-performing school districts and terminate those who turn out illiterate and innumerate “graduates”.

  • Jake W

    What if you found out your graduate program was a diploma mill. Welcome to Cal State San Bernardino and check out WASC Senior’s complicity and the Stanford connection.

    This message is intended to evaluate John Etchemendy’s dual role as provost and WASC Senior commissioner.

    “We are always striving to provide the best possible learning and working environment in which all members of our community may succeed and thrive”.

    Excerpt from the link below and not intended to misstate the provost’ message.


    We all expect our provost to state such, and we equally expect a WASC commissioner acting on behalf of the US Dept. of Ed. as an accrediting and policy/procedure regulatory agency to act accordingly. The obvious question is why are four CSU presidents and the Stanford provost (amongst others) regulating their own campuses and what does that mean for the students?

    We discovered on the CSUSB campus and beyond that WASC grossly failed to meet their mandate as a non profit senior college regulatory agency. That the Stanford provost/WASC commissioner knew or should have known that WASC is concealing at least three diploma mills and Title IV violations (fraudulent receipt of federal student aid). All the belly-who about the Stanford band is laughable and makes the provost’ commentary a foolish distraction. I am from a lineage of Stanford alumni and love the institution but went to Cal.

    I will be posting a WASC Rip-Off Report soon. What will the Stanford Daily do?

    Jake Wallace