With spring quarter around the corner, the most common images that come to our minds are of students playing Frisbee on Wilbur field, laying out on the grass in their swimsuits and procrastinating doing their homework due to the beautiful weather. However, spring quarter is also the time when ASSU elections are at their peak. Candidates are campaigning and the school transitions into a new phase of representation. Unfortunately, bringing the ASSU to the average students proves to be difficult, and deciding who will be the next President and Vice-President of the student body involves quite the process.
“You can have a Stanford experience that you really like and are really happy with, regardless of whether the ASSU plays a role in it. And we think that’s unfortunate that the ASSU has left a lot of low-hanging fruit unharvested,” Robbie Zimbroff and William Wagstaff, two seniors running together, explained clearly. Through conversations with students and the administration, Zimbroff-Wagstaff hope to improve and increase the efficiency of all the resources students already have access to. Additionally, by pandering to the “average” Stanford student’s needs and exploiting small victories by accomplishing what the student’s want, these two seniors hope to make a real difference.
Regardless of these goals, increasing the approachability of the ASSU is a major concern for this year’s executive slates. Small victories can occur, but if students are unaware of the progress being made, these accomplishments are meaningless. “The important part of the ASSU is to make the student experience more enjoyable, but to also facilitate it. The ASSU has to be important to the most common student…and we can make the ASSU more transparent to the student body with an online database: here’s what you want, here’s what we’re doing about it, did we get it done, and how well did we do it,” remarked Druthi Ghanta, a sophomore running alongside Stewart MacGregor-Dennis for the executive.
The desire to make the ASSU more transparent and more available to students has been in motion for a while, only reaffirmed by the newly consolidated ASSU constitution. Each of the executive slates agreed that the improvements made in the constitution enable students to further understand the goal of the ASSU and more effectively interact with the different bodies of the organization. However, although they acknowledged the progress made in the constitution, Mwaura and Mbatia, Junior executive slate members commented on the energy put in to reformat the constitution, time taken away from fruitful initiatives that directly affect students.
“We just want to increase the population that feels that the ASSU is working for them,” Mwaura and Mbatia earnestly stated. These two juniors have adopted a “door-to-door” campaign, reaching out to students personally, in their dorms, through their clubs and creating strong rapport. Both Mwaura and Mbatia hope to open communication routes between campus groups and organizations that usually do not participate in these conversations.
Although reaching out to the broad spectrum of communities on campus and responding to what students want is essential for the ASSU considering its representative role, and a common thread amongst this years executive slates, clear goals have to also be established from the get-go. A balance needs to be established between student desires and the visions each of these executive slates bring to the table. According to MacGregor-Dennis and Gantha, their slate hopes to record student feedback and “construct elements that are actionable…you need to be able to filter it and apply a bunch of principles that will underlie these desires: tangible, ambitious and relevant.” As platforms come up in the next few weeks, the student body should expect a variety of goals, ranging from local yard sales proposed by Mwara and Mbatia to late-night food options by Zimbroff and Wagstaff.
One thing is for sure: the executive slates running this year have all paired together to represent a united front, embodying to a broad spectrum of interests, backgrounds and desires. From incumbents to outsiders, social-butterflies to engineering majors, the executive slates are ready to connect to every student on-campus, hoping to change the ASSU from a mysterious organization into an accessible resource.
This article emphasizes three executive slates. All other slates were unavailable for comment.