After weeks of extensive campaigning and outreach to the Stanford community, Angelina Cardona ’11 and Kelsei Wharton ’12 were visibly relieved after being announced as the winners of the ASSU executive election. When asked how each planned to celebrate, Wharton simply responded “sleep,” while his running mate said the campaign team “planned to just get together and have a good time” later that night.
After hearing the results, Wharton confessed, “We ran a genuine campaign through and through, and, yes, I did expect this kind of support.” Cardona responded that she was not “expecting anything,” but felt good about the way her slate had run their campaign, adding that she was “excited to feel loved and supported.”
Staring April 24, Cardona and Wharton will be tasked with leading the school’s student government, which, despite its successes in areas such as sustainability and event programming, has seen its reputation marred by the recent ethical scandals.
In a later interview with the Review, Cardona stated that her first task as future ASSU President will be forming a new cabinet. It will consist of 13 members—12 chairs and one chief of staff—which she considers to be a medium sized cabinet. The President-elect stated she chose this number “both because we want to have a manageable team where we can conduct frequent evaluations, at least twice quarterly, and to have strong interactions to make sure we’re hitting the goals we need to.”
While significantly less than the 22 members, counting chairs and co-chairs, currently in ASSU President David Gobaud’s administration, the number is larger than the cabinet size proposed by some campaign rivals. Ryan Peacock and Jonathan Bakke, both graduate students in chemical engineering who placed second in the ASSU executive election, had pledged to limit their cabinet to 10 members in order for more resources to be available to other programs.
In addition to decreasing the cabinet’s size, Cardona and Wharton will decrease both their own salaries and those of their cabinet members. The team has not yet decided by how much, but Cardona stated that the money saved will be used to “empower students directly” through grants, [Voluntary Student Organizations] VSOs and other programs. According to ASSU president David Gobaud and the ASSU website, the ASSU President makes $10,500, the vice-President $10,000, the chief of staff $1,900 and cabinet members $950. However, currently Gobaud has only been paid $3,875, out of which he donated $2,500.
When asked whether she thought the ASSU – which handles a shuttle service, a wellness room, a store, and plans numerous events – was tackling too many aspects of student life, Cardona responded that she thought the ASSU should work mostly on issues about which students were already passionate.
As a cabinet member under the Dorsey-Harris administration two years ago, Cardona was tasked with improving student wellness on campus. She defended her role as cofounder of the often-ridiculed Wellness Room in Old Union, stating she thought it was a “preventative source of wellness.” She added, “[the Wellness Room] was never intended to prevent suicide or mental health issues like that but instead to deal with day to day stresses.”
In response to whether she believed creating the Wellness Room had been worth its high cost, which records show has a $5,600 annual budget and has absorbed almost $15,000 since its creation two years ago, Cardona stated she believed that it had served some students successfully, but that its main goal was to be a resource where students could learn about other more comprehensive mental health programs offered on campus. The Wellness Room is in a transition process and will soon become a VSO independent from the ASSU executive.
Cardona then discussed her plans concerning the also controversial issue of free speech on campus. She hopes to expand free speech, which is currently restricted to White Plaza, so that students can more easily participate in phone banks and bring people running for office to Stanford. She stated that while “expansion to all public areas would be ideal,” she would like to at least expand free speech to other areas on campus.
On the issue of transparency, which became a major issue for the ASSU after a Review investigation discovered that former ASSU executives had spent $13,000 in discretionary funding for food and gas that were not directly related to ASSU affairs, Cardona noted that the executives would be releasing financial documents regularly. Furthermore, her team plans to have weekly meeting with student media groups, invite them to cabinet meetings, and publish cabinet minutes.
Even though Cardona and Wharton, two undergraduates, likely benefited from much stronger turnout among undergraduates than graduate students, Cardona noted that her campaign did extensive outreach to the graduate population, including knocking on every graduate student’s door and having an alcohol-free “Wine and Cheese” event intended to gather ideas from them. “We wanted them to know that they mattered to this campaign and this election, and that follows over into our time in office,” she stated. The new executives plan to attend the weekly Graduate Student Council (GSC) meetings and are allowing graduate students to apply to all cabinet positions.
Cardona summarized her governing philosophy stating that “we are bigger picture oriented execs, but at the same time we don’t see the big picture issues mutually exclusive with student life issues.” Specific ideas include online ordering at the Axe and Palm and improved party planning “matched with bigger cultural shift projects.”
Correction: On the print version, the article stated the ASSU President makes $13,260. The total amount allocated to the ASSU President was only $10,500.