Guest Op-Ed: More Endorsements, More of the Same

At the ASSU Exec debate this evening at the CoHo, questions were raised about the legitimacy of multiple endorsements and the backgrounds of the various slates. Many opinions have been presented on those issues; the following will add to the discussion.

*This guest op-ed was submitted to the *Review by Kyle O’Malley ’13. The piece does not reflect the opinion of the Review, its staff, or its Editorial Board.

What’s in an endorsement? The Cardona/Wharton slate managed to garner endorsements from the Queer Coalition, the Dems, SOCC, the Women’s Coalition, GAIA, the Progressive, and The Stanford Daily Editorial Board, most of which were released before April 2nd, the day that Cardona/Wharton claim they posted their platform (long after other competitive slates). So how – or perhaps more importantly, why – did Cardona/Wharton manage to clinch so many endorsements?

It has less to do with any substantive or progressive initiatives they’ve publicly introduced and more to do with the endorsement process’s corruption, rigidity, and self-serving traditions. Take, for example, the fact that Sarahi Constantine, a member of the Dems endorsement panel, was a widely acknowledged Cardona/Wharton supporter before endorsement interviews, something I learned last quarter from a student close to Constantine. Ana Diaz-Hernandez, a member of the Stanford Daily Editorial Board, has been a public supporter of SOCC – which had already endorsed Cardona/Wharton – yet was not removed from their endorsement panel.

Andy Parker, the current ASSU Vice President, also sat on the Dems panel. Jonny Dorsey (ASSU Exec ’08-’09), who encouraged current ASSU President Gobaud to run, also convinced Cardona to run, according to her earlier interview with the Review. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems very clear to me that there are political ties between all of these individuals, reflecting something of an entrenched, almost aristocratic culture in recent ASSU Exec slates.

How about some of the other endorsements? In an interview, Scher and Werner told me that Gobaud admitted to reading their application for the Women’s Coalition endorsement, something that took the slate by surprise, since according to them, he wasn’t on that endorsement panel. GAIA, which represents a number of sustainability organizations on campus, did not grant its endorsement to the No-Rain campaign – which is spending zero dollars and printing nothing. The endorsement for some reason went to Cardona/Wharton, who did not have an articulated green platform, nor are they running the most sustainable campaign.

Cardona and Wharton as individuals? The only thing I know about them is that they’ve both previously held official ASSU positions: Wharton as the Deputy Chair of the Senate and a member of the much-loathed Senate Appropriations Committee, and Cardona as the mind behind the less-than-well-conceived Wellness Room, a fiscal disaster that according to reports has eaten up at least $15,000. Quite the track record, wouldn’t you say?

Almost every ‘10-‘11 Senate candidate has included appropriations reform on his or her platform. How can Cardona/Wharton, in good conscience, include this on their platform as well? Kelsei Wharton was a member of the appropriations committee and served as the Deputy Chair of the Senate. If he wanted to initiate reform, he had his chance. I’m not going to vote to give him another.

So where am I left? Cardona/Wharton was the very last slate to publicly post its platform, meaning they couldn’t possibly have been asked to justify their positions to endorsement panels who hadn’t read it. But we all know what they stand for. They represent the traditionalism of the ASSU establishment. Am I supposed to buy their oft-claimed experience as reason for electing them? Wharton, in an interview with the Review, said of his legislative history, “I haven’t been the most active participant in the legislative role,” and that, “I can’t say that I’ve written legislation.” No kidding.

Perhaps his year as the Deputy Chair of the Senate should be regarded less as proof of what Cardona calls her and Wharton’s shared “public-service” mentality, and more as proof of inactivity, irresponsible use of power, and plain neglect.

I understand that Cardona and Wharton have served in the ASSU in the past. And that’s what concerns me. What’s best for the ASSU at this point is a renewal, a replacement of the kinds of student leaders who have presided over, foreseen, and participated in an ASSU that has been marred by scandal, acted irresponsibly, and in many ways failed the student body. Why would I vote for more of the same?

*Kyle O’Malley is a freshman living in Loro. He serves on the staff at the LGBT-CRC, is an active member of the Emma Goldman Society, and a research assistant in the sociology department.
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