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Students call for bigger role in campus decision- making
STANFORD -- About 200 people gathered in White Plaza May 27 for a "teach-in" demanding more student participation in Stanford University's decision-making processes.
The peaceful rally was organized by a newly formed coalition called "Concerned Students" that includes representatives from the student government, women's groups and several campus minority groups.
Among their biggest concerns: President's Gerhard Casper's new Commission on Undergraduate Education, which will look at issues ranging from a three-year degree to the possible elimination of some undergraduate majors to the effectiveness of advising and residential education.
Although student representatives will serve on the new commission, rally speakers said they were worried that the majority of students will be out of touch with the decision-making process when the commission begins to meet this summer.
The students also voiced concerns about the possible restructuring of Stanford's Office for Multicultural Development and the recent resignation of its director, Sharon Parker; the status of the University Committee on Minority Issues (UCMI); and delays in implementing policies to help women and disabled students.
"Many different questions are being raised, and there's a feeling among many that there aren't enough opportunities for these sorts of issues to be addressed," sophomore Taj James told the crowd. "At present, there's really no institution for our opinion about these specific issues to be translated into policy.
"Students need to be a fundamental part of that decision-making process because they're the true experts on undergraduate education," he continued. "Mr. Casper has rightfully proposed the radical questioning of undergraduate education, and we want to help by giving [student input] and raising awareness of these issues.
"We understand that this administration is still formulating its ideas, but many students are still extremely concerned - and this concern must be addressed more thoroughly before the end of the academic year."
Rally organizers passed out sample letters asking the Stanford administration to "be clear and direct with the student body concerning the agenda and timelines of the committees that will effect these changes."
The letters also asked the university to "reaffirm the role of the Office of Multicultural Development, to implement the recommendations of the UCMI, the Women's Needs Assessment, the forthcoming assessment of the Deans of Students Working Group on gay, lesbian and bisexual student needs, to assess the needs of the Disabled Community; and to expand ethnic/cultural studies."
The students plan to continue meeting the rest of the quarter and over the summer, according to organizer Anietie Ekanem, chair of the Black Student Union.
Stanford President Gerhard Casper addressed some of the students' concerns in remarks that afternoon to Stanford's Faculty Senate (see story, page xx).
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