As the ASSU election season begins, the priorities of next year’s student government and the issues affecting the student body will soon consume campus. In addition, those not running for elected office also have the opportunity to bring about change to campus policy.
Highlighting the importance of having great ASSU leadership, Elections Commissioner Quinn Slack, speaking at an ASSU information session, stated, “The ASSU is the students’ voice,” adding that “there are a lot of opportunities where the ASSU can make a difference in (students’) feelings for the university.”
This year, elections for the ASSU Executive, the 15 Undergraduate Senators, and the Undergraduate Class Presidents will take place between Thursday, April 8 and Friday, April 9.
Campaigning will then kick off April 2. The ASSU helps each candidate by providing them with websites, specified times in white plaza, etc., in addition to public financing. Executive slates are eligible to receive up to $750 in matching funds. Candidates for Undergraduate Senate and Class Presidents are eligible for $20 in public funds for advertising.
Voters can positively influence the election by keeping in mind candidates’ adherence to Stanford’s Fundamental Standard and campaigning policies when deciding whom to support. These policies include not campaigning door-to-door in residences, a cap on the amount of “official” literature, and adherence to Stanford’s White Plaza use guidelines.
In order to be eligible, a slate or individual must present a signed petition and a declaration of intent to run by March 5. Senate and Class President candidates must collect 100 students’ (undergrad or co-terms for Senate and of the respective class for President) signatures while Exec slates must collect 200 Student Signatures (Undergraduate or Graduate). According to the Elections website, voters can have greater influence by carefully “(evaluating) prospective candidates who ask you to sign their petition for candidacy.”
Students applying to non-elected positions in the ASSU this spring will also have an opportunity to affect campus policy outside of the voting booth. The four main non-elected student leadership opportunities discussed at the ASSU information session were: university committees, executive cabinet, Stanford Student Enterprises, and the Elections Commission.
There are two specific ways to get involved with University Committees. The first of which is to apply to one of over a hundred positions available for students in the fifty-five different University Committees.
According to the ASSU, “University Committees form a very powerful instrument for allowing students’ voices to be heard at the administrative level.” These committees include Judicial Affairs, Alcohol Advisory Board, Greek Housing Review Board, PWR, Sustainability Working Group, Registrar Student Advisory, and Undergrad Admissions. As committee members, students represent the student body and work with faculty and staff on specific university policies and issues.
Jonathan Bakke, current chair of the Nominations Commission (NomCom), the group that selects student committee members, shared at the session that these positions in particular are a, “great way for new people to get involved in the university.” Interested students can apply through the NomCom website in May. While all committee positions are open in May, many become available over the course of the year.
The second way to get involved is to apply to be part of the Nominations Commission itself. The seven members of NomCom are tasked with selecting members for the student slates in May, helping train those selected in the fall, and keeping in contact with the committee members throughout the year. This year’s outgoing leadership will select next year’s NomCom in April.
The ASSU Executive Cabinet consists of about 15-20 chairs and 20-30 associates and deputies. Members of the cabinet direct the ASSU’s efforts in areas like public service, health and wellness, diversity and tolerance, and sustainability. “One of the really unique things about (Exec Cabinet) is that it allows you to focus all of your energy on one particular issue” shared ASSU Vice President and former Chief of Staff Andy Parker. While there are currently ten main departments in cabinet, cabinet divisions do change year- to- year to reflect the President and Vice President’s priorities. Those interested can apply to the newly -elected executives in late April.
Stanford Student Enterprises
For those more interested in the business side of the ASSU, dozens of unique opportunities exist within the Stanford Student Enterprises (SEE). Current SSE CEO Matthew McLaughlin shared that the completely student-managed organization, “Runs a lot of the backend banking processes.” In addition to these backend processes like managing ASSU funds and distributing student fees to various student groups, the SSE provides a variety of other resources. These resources range from banking services to aid for student entrepreneurs. The application for manager-level positions in the SSE is open until February 19.
Another great way to get involved in the ASSU elections process is by joining the Elections Commission. The Elections Commission consists of three or four members who oversee all aspects of the elections. According to Slack, “The Elections Commission has a lot of independence, which is good… because it lets us be more nimble and innovative in our plans for increasing voter turnout, opening up candidacy to all students, emphasizing substantive issues in the election, etc.”
The commission’s specific responsibilities include implementing election policies, running the petition process, designing the ballot, working with candidates, and running the actual election. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and the Elections Officers Search Committee will meet and interview qualified applicants as needed.
Whether interested in improving students’ lives or simply giving back to Stanford, there are several resources available to find out more about these positions. Campus campaigning policies can be found at elections.stanford.edu/guide. More information about University Committees and Nominations Commission can be found at nomcom.stanford.edu. Information about Executive Cabinet will be posted to assu.stanford.edu/exec in April. Applications for SSE are available online at sse.stanford.edu/jobs. Elections Commission information can be obtained online at elections.stanford.edu.