As a follow up to my interview with ASSU Exec candidate Thom Scher (11), I met with his running mate Stephanie Werner (11) to discuss accountability in the ASSU, the competition, and the Wellness Room.
Thom and Stephanie’s Platform is available at http://www.stanford.edu/~tscher/platform.pdf
**What do you see as the biggest responsibility of the Vice President and what qualifies you to fill that aspect of the role effectively?
I think that the responsibility of the Vice President is two-fold. First of all, I think that the responsibility of the Vice President is to support the President in joint initiatives. My relationship with Thom qualifies me somewhat automatically. Given the fact that we crafted the platform together, I do think I am well suited to execute a number of the points on our platform…. Secondly, I think that the other half of the responsibility of the Vice President is to help oversee the Senate. I know this year the Senate has been consumed by a lot of infighting, and I personally do not have a lot of patience for infighting when there are actual items on the agenda that need to be handled. I think that my management style is very effective when it comes to lowering the bickering and increasing the efficiency.
**There have been a lot of questions surrounding transparency and accountability in both branches of the ASSU. What do you hope to do to increase transparency and accountability?
We have a couple of items related to this on our platform. The first thing is that we believe in fully posting all policies on the ASSU website. Not just posting them somewhere hidden in a back corner of web page, but actually posting them in a manner that is accessible and easy to find when people go looking for them. We also believe that there needs to be a bylaw alteration such that any relevant student group is notified of Senate bills at least two weeks before they come up on the Senate floor, so that they have appropriate time to respond if necessary. One of the major issues this year has been accountability in appropriations because appropriations have not been transparent and a little arbitrary it seems, at least from the outside. One of the things that we would like to do is create an oversight committee of non-elected students who could serve as a means of recourse for student groups that feel that they have been treated unfairly in appropriations. We also believe that endorsing bodies should hold their candidates accountable to their constituents. We are going to strive to create better relationships with any body on campus that endorses candidates, so they follow up with some of that accountability.
Can you reflect on the race up to this point given the number of candidates who have entered and dropped out? **
The race has been very interesting. Not only have candidates signed up and dropped out right after petitioning opened, but there was also a lot of the same activity before petitioning began. For instance, in Thom’s search for a Vice President, he considered running with two or three other candidates who decided not to run at all… At this point we don’t know if certain slates are going to stay on the ballot and if certain slates are going to declare. For instance, we are waiting to plan our campaign for the two weeks in April until after it is too late for slates to declare their candidacy. We have heard rumors that both the No Rain Campaign and the Peacock-Bakke campaign could be jokes. Those are absolutely unconfirmed rumors, so we are acting as if those are serious slates until we hear otherwise from those slates. We will likely be sitting down with the No Rain campaign over the next few days. We don’t know a lot about the Peacock –Bakke campaign other than that they are PhD students and that it might be difficult for them to serve well given the point in which they are at in their PhD progress.
I know that you have published a platform online, but can you explain your top priorities and how you plan to accomplish them?**
Our platform is effectively two-pronged. The first prong regards big issues on which the university is already making major strides, like sustainability and wellness. In those areas, rather than spending the vast majority of our effort starting new initiatives, we want to increase student input in a variety of ways listed in our platform.
We want to focus a lot of our effort, the second prong, on issues that actually matter to students on a regular basis and are relevant… We want to minimize bureaucratic red tape for student groups and help them maximize their efficiency and resources. We also want to increase student access to places on campus and install key cards to graduate student houses. We will also work to encourage collaboration between student groups….
The Review has published a number of pieces regarding the Wellness Room this year. What is your slate’s take on the room? **
The Wellness Room is difficult because we see it as both a physical space and as a platform of ideas. We would like to address those two aspects differently. We think that the physical space has not been that effective… We want to divert some of the funding that goes into the physical space into specific initiatives focused on wellness and reclaim that physical space for Old Union conference purposes. In terms, of the platform of ideas the room promotes, we are in support of those as much as possible and want to continue them next year…
**Given that Thom currently serves as a peer advisor in the SAL, what does your slate hope to accomplish when it comes to free speech codes on campus? **
Free speech was not something we originally tackled in our platform, but that in our meetings with students has definitely come up. Given Thom’s relationship with Nancy Howe, who is effectively the gate keeper on these types of things, we think that it is something we should be able to if not fix, at least get more information regarding university policies on clarified for students.