Athlete accommodations raise debates among ASSU members

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) and Undergraduate Senate (UGS) debated a resolution on Tuesday night that would increase academic accommodations for student-athletes — and possibly the broader student community — in response to Stanford’s transition from the Pac-12 to the ACC. 

UGS co-chair Diego Kagurabadza ‘25 presented the resolution at Tuesday’s GSC meeting with hopes of gaining support from GSC to pass a joint resolution. Graduate students compete on varsity teams and work as teaching assistants — who would implement the accommodations — making the resolution especially pertinent to the council, Kagurabadza said.

The resolution asks the University to increase accommodations due to the move to the ACC, which is projected to increase travel as Stanford competes with more distant universities.

“It’s very disruptive for [the student-athlete] academic experience, so this resolution asks the University to reassess their academic accommodations,” Kagurabadza said.

The resolution included recommendations that would benefit the broader undergraduate community, including offering alternative exam dates for students affected by COVID-19 and other illnesses.

“Stanford needs to reaffirm its commitment to alternative educational methods,” Kagurabadza said. “I’ve heard many stories of students entering lecture halls with COVID-19. This is something that needs to be considered very seriously.”

GSC officers questioned Kagurabadza about specific proposals in the resolution; one concern questioned the necessity of prioritizing athletes in enrollment.

After acknowledging controversy around the recommendation, Kagurabadza doubled down on the recommendation: “I wouldn’t say it’s undue or unnecessary because student-athletes have particular time commitments. That makes it difficult for them to take particular courses and limits major selection.”

For example, Kagurabadza said “there are very few student-athletes in the engineering school.” While possibly controversial, he said the resolution was necessary “for students to receive the courses that enable them to graduate on time, which is the goal.”

Councilors suggested that the UGS amend the resolution to include a recommendation that all course syllabi be posted before course enrollment begins.

Kagurabadza raised the resolution at the UGS meeting later on Tuesday. Kagurabadza said a Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) member reached out to other UGS members to ask for similar accommodations for student-athletes.

Senator Ava Tiffany ‘26 said that despite frequent LSJUMB travel during the men’s basketball and women’s basketball seasons, they are often overlooked when it comes to academic accommodations.

In an updated resolution, Kagurabadza plans on including groups affiliated with sports teams like the LSJUMB, the cheer team and the Dollies. 

Kagurabadza also proposed another resolution to confirm graduate student distance runner Liam Anderson ‘23 M.A ‘24 as an ex-officio UGS member. As an ex-officio member, Anderson would not be allowed to vote but allowed all other privileges granted to senators.

Anderson was a former co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), an organization that helped Kagurabadza form the initial athletic accommodations resolution.