In an informal ceremony at the CoHo this past Saturday, the results of this year’s Stanford ASSU elections were announced following two days of voting. Candidates, supporters, and interested students crowded into the café as ASSU election committee members read the election results for class presidents, undergraduate senate, executives, graduate student council, and special fees. For some in the room, the election results were a relief, while other expressions ranged from joy to disappointment.
This year’s ballot featured fifty organizations applying for special fees. All special fees passed, primarily by wide margins, with only five organizations passing with less than 60% approval. The only new addition to special fees, the Stanford Astronomical Society, intends to use the funds, approaching $20,000, to build a new observatory.
Arguably, the most intriguing elections were those of the Undergraduate Senate where close to 40 students competed for 15 positions as representatives of the Undergraduate student body. The top 15 vote-getters will have the opportunity to serve next year.
Of the 15 senators elected, two from this year will be returning to the senate, Zachary Johnson and Shelley Gao. Ms. Gao, the Senate’s current chair, was the top vote-getter last year and was solidly re-elected this year with 1,177 votes, third most overall.
“I’m very grateful to be given another opportunity to serve the student union,” expressed a smiling Gao, “Next year, we will work even harder.”
The status of Ms. Gao’s reelection was drawn into question by a largely critical article by The Stanford Daily revealing her failure to disclose her participation in the Stanford in Washington program next year. The Stanford Review had the opportunity to ask her about her feelings on the matter.
“I was pretty concerned but glad that the voters looked at my record and commitment to the ASSU,” said Ms. Gao.
Every year, endorsements are sought by candidates from various student groups, interests, and newspapers. This year was no different with one of the most sought after endorsements, the Students of Color Coalition, SOCC, getting 7 of their 12 endorsed candidates elected while the newly formed Students for a Better Stanford, SBS, had 8 of their 12 potential senators elected.
While endorsements are common, the rise of SBS was a relatively new addition to recent Stanford elections- and very successful. Four of the top five vote-getters were SBS-sponsored: Anton Zietsman, Gao, Varun Sivaram, and Alex Katz. Katz, fifth overall with 1,069 votes and a member of SBS, was excited and relieved by the results, “Tonight I’m celebrating, but tomorrow our work begins.”
Zachary Warma, thirteenth overall with 842 votes and also a member of SBS, had similar thoughts on the matter.
“Tomorrow starts the hard task of remaking Stanford. I look forward to taking on these issues,” said Warma, “We had very capable people that won.”
However, SOCC-endorsed candidates were not to be outdone. Rounding out the top three spots were Mohammad Ali, Zietsman, and Gao, all SOCC-endorsed candidates. Ali was the top earner in votes this year with 1,222.
“I’m very happy, surprised. I am thankful to God,” stated Ali. He expressly thanked endorsements from the Women’s Coalition and SOCC and attributed his election to having a “huge network of friends.”
When asked about his current plans for this year, Ali, who had spent four hours the night before sending out personal campaign e-mails to friends, said, “[The Senate has] nothing concrete but we plan on strategizing soon.”
Executive election garners clear victory
This year’s executive election was less punctuated with outrageous campaign budgets than it was by two highly dedicated executive slates. Disregarding the always-entertaining Stanford Chaparral slate, the slates of Hauser/Sprague and Gobaud/de la Torre competed for the top spots of ASSU Executive.
In a clear victory, Gobaud/de la Torre outnumbered Hauser/Sprague at 3,055 to 1,546 votes in first round voting, respectively. David Gobaud, a co-term in Computer Sciences and next year’s ASSU president, was overjoyed but humbled by the outcome.
“I accept this with amazing gratitude and humility. I look forward to working with the entire student body,” said Gobaud, “Our election is the result of our team and we have gained inspiration and courage from them. Without their help, we would not be here.”
Jay de la Torre, next year’s ASSU vice president and a rising senior majoring in Urban Studies, was just as pleased by the outcome, “We’re extremely grateful for this experience. Our team is the reason we kept fighting.”
The new executives identified key principles they wanted to focus on for next year. Among those principles, they highlighted an all-inclusive approach for the student body.
“We need to reach out to the skeptics who didn’t vote for us. It’s all about the team…about coming together,” Gobaud stated.
Gobaud went on to commend his opponents in the election, “Hauser and Sprague are amazing. They’ve grown the Union’s endowment and helped ensure student groups work effectively throughout the university. They challenged us and made us better men for it. We look forward to working with them.”
The presidential elections this year saw one slate facing no competition. The Junior class presidential slate, “The Elevolution” (Pamon Forouhar, Mona Hadidi, Dante DiCicco, Pilar Wong, and Max Hawes), went uncontested and won handily with 752 votes.
The sophomore class presidents saw a three-way race come down to the two slates of “Hardcore as a Sophomore” (Ross Darwin, Grace Ann Jones, William Lecel Lee IV, Erin Olivella-Wright) and “So-phly” (Marie Caligiuri, Adrian Castillo, Taylor Goodspeed, Isabelle Wijangco). In the end, So-phly was the victor with 673 votes to Hardcore as a Sophomore’s 393 votes.
The Senior class presidents for class of 2010 were also in a three-way race coming down to the two slates of “Stuntin’ is our Habit” (Dan Bacon, Dorian Bertsch, Vanessa Lerma, Ashleigh Rose) and “We’re on a Boat” (Claire Roscow, Walter Foxworth, Ansaf Kareem, Dan Ha) going head to head. We’re on a Boat was the victor with 487 votes to Stuntin’ is our Habit’s 291 in second round voting.
Ansaf Kareem, one of the members of We’re on a Boat, felt their message and platform were key to their success, “I think the [five point] platform was key.”
When asked about endorsements, Kareem said, “[People are looking for something] deeper than just an endorsement. They’re looking for a platform and message.”
While undergraduate elections and interests are often the most covered, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) election results were also announced. The GSC is composed of a representative from each of Stanford’s nine schools plus one additional representative from the engineering school and five at-large representatives for a total of fifteen representatives from the graduate schools.
Mary Van der Hoven, a PhD student and the newly elected representative from the School of Earth Sciences, intends to change the perception of the often overlooked GSC. Her concerns, in line with the platform of the newly elected ASSU Executives Gobaud and de la Torre, stems from instances of preference for undergraduate goals and a lack of graduate student body awareness of issues.
Citing a Stanford Daily article discussing the upcoming elections (“GSC discusses elections” 4/9/09), Ms. Van der Hoven observed that the majority of the article covered Fagan’s comments at a GSC meeting.
“Fagan was at the meeting but the article conveyed an extremely inaccurate representation [of the role of the GSC],” she said, “It will be a great step forward to see more coverage [in the campus media] of the Graduate Student Council.”
Van der Hoven hopes to garner more involvement and a better voice for the GSC with greater coverage of graduate issues in the campus media. Her goals and the graduate student platform provided by Gobaud and de la Torre could mark broader discussions and considerations within the ASSU towards graduate level students.
“We’re part of this university as much as the undergrads,” Van der Hoven stated.