ASSU Executive Update Banner

Dear Stanford Community,

Today, the University announced that conditions should allow for the return of juniors and seniors for Spring Quarter. We previously recommended against this decision, but we will move forward in representing all student voices to ensure that campus reopening is safe and healthy.

We acknowledge the recent controversy surrounding our memo to the Stanford administration. We apologize for not initially including the expectations and opinions of the student body, and for not clarifying the basis and intention of our memo ahead of time.

We feel your frustration, especially among seniors who expressed a desire to spend their last quarter on campus. As the Stanford Daily Editorial Board wrote in this article, students deserve transparency and accountability, not only from higher-level administrators, but also from the ASSU. Since we constantly advocate for transparency from the administration, we strive to model this behavior and regret not doing so in this moment.

We would like to thank those who reached out expressing concern and frustration; you remind us that we can (and should) strive to do better. As we move into Spring Quarter, we promise to:

  • Send out a survey to learn about your needs for Spring Quarter. We will design and share a survey where you can tell us what you are looking forward to and/or are concerned about for Spring Quarter, regardless of campus status. We will bring this feedback to Student Affairs and will work closely with them to address our shared hopes and concerns.

  • Hold Town Halls for both undergraduate and graduate students during Week 3 of Spring Quarter. Regardless of campus status, these will provide spaces for students to vocalize feedback. We will relay any concerns to Student Affairs, and will ensure progress to a more ideal Stanford experience.

  • Hold a Town Hall for frosh during Week five, to learn more about expectations for Summer and Fall Quarters.

We also want to define what community means to us. As the ASSU, we represent both the undergraduate and graduate student bodies, which hold diverse perspectives, as shared in the results of the Undergraduate Senate’s survey on reopening. While we aim to listen to these diverse perspectives, we also understand that there will rarely be unanimous consent on decisions that we make, even within the ASSU. We do not resent or try to quell disagreement, but instead find opportunities to reevaluate our stances and decision-making process.

In thinking about Spring Quarter, we know that the current low number of positive COVID cases on campus does not tell the whole story. We have heard from student staff and service workers who are feeling incredible amounts of stress given the lack of training and resources available to them. In particular, they are wondering whether reopening is feasible given trends in the past few quarters.

Stanford still has a lot of work to do in preparing those tasked with carrying out the University's decisions. Unpreparedness has been detrimental for students, workers, and the safety of the local community. We are advocating for improvements in student staff training, more engaging forms of communication for campus policies, and more protections for subcontracted service workers who are being overworked without proper COVID precautions. We want to thank Students for Workers’ Rights, students, and workers who have brought attention to these issues– your advocacy has helped push Stanford to re-commit to providing consistent testing for subcontracted workers.

Aside from these concerns, we know that the prospect of returning to campus is special for a lot of students, especially those who are getting ready to graduate. All students deserve to celebrate their accomplishments and to share joy with friends and loved ones. In order to ensure that this is possible, we must also comply with campus safety protocols. The non-compliance we have been observing by both undergraduate and graduate students is unacceptable. These actions put the entire community at risk and jeopardizes the campus experience for everyone. We hope to see everyone practice community care by complying with campus policies, and will work with administrators to make policies more fair and accessible.

As we practice more transparency in our own work, we hope that students and University administration will act with community care in mind.

With love,

Vianna Vo (she/her), ASSU President

Chris Middleton (he/him), ASSU Vice President

Jianna So (she/her), ASSU Chief of Staff