For ASSU Senate: Harsh Govil

Name two goals that you will have accomplished by the end of your Senate term. Please be specific with your policy recommendations.
One key goal that I have is one that speaks at a fundamental level to the nature and purpose of the ASSU. The Constitution – a document that ostensibly governs the group and policies that it can enact for the benefit of the wider community – is one that is incomprehensible to most students. If students, the group protected and governed by said constitution cannot decipher its meaning, there is a serious disconnect. I would amend the Constitution or at least work to create a separate document that governed elections.

The second, equally important aspect to my Senate term would be to enact Special Fees reform in order to make the Appropriations Committee an ally of students. Rather than the current perception of the Committee as an adversary or gatekeeper, I would work towards making it clear that it uses the rules to minimize wasteful spending. In order for that to take place, the Committee would approve the budget for groups that have a high change of petitioning for more money. In other words, there exists an incentive for groups to be reasonable when going to the appropriations committee, but the marginal increase in difficulty to petition for more money is low.

Which two current ASSU initiatives or programs would you push to eliminate? Why?
An ASSU initiative that can be cut with a marginal benefit to students is the Wellness Room. With the look and feel of a kindergarten classroom, it almost seems like students can go in to color and take a nap, rather than derive a substantive benefit out of that experience. After elimination, the money can be better directed towards programs in the dorm and the wider Be Well initiative of the ASSU. The Wellness Room is emblematic of wasteful spending.

The second current ASSU initiative that I would push to cut ASSU Executive salaries to a level that is more reasonable and representative of the fact that student money drives the organization. For both elected and unelected officials, earning figures in the several thousands detracts from the central mission of the ASSU, which is to work towards benefiting the wider student community (for further reference look at Daily article).

In what ways would you seek to work on the following policy areas within the Senate?

  1. Free speech
    I endorse current ASSU policies, and see a limited rationale in terms of substantively modifying them. While working vigorously to protect current free speech practices, I will be vigilant to ensure that there are no significant changes as well as blatant violations of current protocol.

  2. Wellness
    In terms of wellness, not only will I advocate for a removal of the Wellness Room I will push for a greater emphasis in the residential aspect of the Stanford education for wellness. The time students spend in the dorm is one that can be used to effectively reach-out and build sustainable habits that will transcend any localized efforts such as the wellness room. Especially in terms of freshmen, and their residential settings, it is imperative to build a framework at that level, which in turn will ensure a focus on wellness that will last all four years.

  3. Appropriations policy
    To sum, make the relationship between the appropriations committee and the special fees groups smarter. As outlined above, I want to eliminate excess spending by making the committee be more amenable to reasonable proposals put forth by groups that have a legitimate chance of petitioning for more, unneeded money.

  4. Academic life
    With the current SUES (Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford) process ongoing, the senate has a pivotal role to play in order to increase student participation. Curricular review offers students a change to tangibly benefit future generations of Stanford students, and leverage the learning acquired over their years. More importantly, without student voices, such a review is destined to be less efficient and representative, headlining a lost opportunity for students to take an active role in their education.

  5. Diversity
    Moving forward, I would continue President Cardona’s policies, especially those that engage the minority communities. Examples of such engagement include transgender awareness week, a success that resulted in an improvement of understanding among the Stanford student community about an otherwise under-represented issue. Secondly, I would push for better options for incoming freshmen regarding diverse housing as well as programs that broaden their awareness. The transition process can be a tough one, and making students feel more comfortable across all four years, not just the first, is a top priority.

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