The Stanford Review’s ASSU Elections Issue is usually a place for dissent. We have traditionally raised our voice against excessive Special Fees and protested the electoral influence of the Students of Color Coalition. Last year, we evaluated Senate candidates on their views on door-to-door distribution of publications and endorsements on the ballot. Questions like these remain salient.
Nevertheless, this year is different, for the entire student body is coming to realize a greater threat: the erosion of its freedoms, the invasion of its privacy, and the slow death of Stanford traditions and culture. Piece by piece, Stanford’s irreverent attitude has been dismantled and replaced by a dampening authoritarianism covered only by the veneer of the California sun.
Examples abound. Social Events like “Kairos Wine and Cheese” and “EBF Happy Hour” have been forced to change their name. Nine Band members spent two quarters under the cloud of a Fundamental Standard violation trial before being found blameless. Residential Education demanded the Murray RF take down a tire swing the residents had put up for his children. Etc.
Almost as offensive as the restrictions themselves is the manner in which they are carried out: intransparently and from above. The bike ban was simply announced at the beginning of the year, the restrictions on social life have come as edicts from the Office of Student Affairs, the band’s disciplinary saga has been conducted behind closed doors.
All of this has bred in Stanford students a strong sense of malaise. “I hate this administrator” or “To hell with that office” have become the as common as foul language among my friends. So far the reaction has amounted only to angry columns in the Stanford Daily, pugnacious Facebook groups, and a defiant banner in White Plaza.
This election presents Stanford students the opportunity to go on the offensive. While individual students and groups are easily marginalized and discounted by administrators, the ASSU is popularly elected and can speak for all students. If the Senate as a whole denounces an administrator’s decision, or the ASSU President stands up for a student group facing red-tape and bureaucracy, no administrator can claim that they do not represent all students.
The past year’s ASSU has failed in this regard. The Executive, while competent, has failed to rally the student body. Though they supported the band, they failed to criticise the administration for their treatment. The Senate, in the mean time, has wasted time on trying to divest from Israel, dividing the students when they needed to come together.
Certainly, all the usual admonitions about campus politics apply. Vote for Special Fee groups whose spedning benefits the entire campus (see p. 8). Vote for Senate candidates who are moderate and prudent (see p. 6). This campus still has political divisions (see Chris Nguyen’s brilliant Op-Ed on p. 5). I think our endorsements capture the best of the candidates this year.
But also vote for Senate candidates who will focus on campus issues and speak for a stronger student voice. Vote for an Executive slate that will confront administrators and unify the student body.
I can only hope that next year, this will not be the central issue of the ASSU elections. That will mean we have succeeded.
Editor in Chief
P.S. I’m running for Senate to help fight for our rights. Please Vote!