With Robbie Zimbroff and Will Wagstaff’s entry as the first in the race for the ASSU Executive slate, the game is on! Fairly soon, we should have at least have a couple more hopeful slates competing for the presidency and vice presidency of Stanford’s student body government. Another declared slate is that of ASSU Senators Brianna Pang and Daniel DeLong. While nothing is set in stone yet, one may speculate that current vice president Stewart Macgregor-Dennis will also make a run for the executive.
In light of all of this new activity, it would be wise to quickly look at what makes a commendable platform for an executive slate that wishes to represent Stanford’s student body. In their simplest form, platform initiatives should cover three overarching categories: the improvements, the innovative, and the grandiose.
As much as we all love Stanford, every community can benefit from strict inspection of the rules that guide it, and the facilities it provides to its members. Here at the Farm, there are several frustrations amongst the students when it comes to everyday experiences. When picking their battles, ASSU executive hopefuls should realize the powers and limitations that will bind them, and proceed with prudence.
Zimbroff-Wagstaff have picked up on the right idea, and so have Pang-DeLong. Students would most appreciate an executive body that makes accomplishments that we can enjoy on a regular basis. Better interaction with the SSE (especially their infamously inefficient reimbursements system), or more access to information about non-Stanford study abroad programs, is always welcome change.
However, improvements can be much broader than this. Two years ago, Cardona-Wharton promised to create much greater awareness of relationship abuse, and advocate for less discrepancy between PHE salaries and those of all other residential staff. We are cautious of gauging these initiatives by the respective executives’ ability to deliver on them. We are only assessing initiatives by the quality of thought put into them.
It is great to have initiatives that attempt to fix inconsistencies in a smooth student experience. However, there is always room for the executive body to attempt to achieve something out of the ordinary- and improve our lives at Stanford in ways that we had not predicted before.
An initiative we found interesting was Pang-DeLong’s idea of teaming up with Stanford startups to explore late night dining options. Stanford 2.0, veteran Macgregor-Dennis’ slate from last year, had a similarly smart idea with their plans to introduce student-initiated courses aimed at educating Stanford students about basic life skills, such as personal finance and fixing one’s own gadgets.
The idea here is not necessarily to think big. Subtle new plans can vastly improve the life here at Stanford, but formulating these ideas demands a great deal of innovation. The most interesting element of this category is that it truly calls upon the slates’ ability to channel their own experiences as students and members of our community. Only a Stanford student, who has often questioned what would make them happier at Stanford, would be able to innovate and suggest initiatives from which other members of the Cardinal family can benefit.
This is perhaps the most difficult of the three categories, and one where slates seem to repeatedly fail. Grandiose plans for Stanford have two inherent problems- their great scale and sometimes ambiguous nature, and executives’ failure to notice what Stanford really wants.
Past examples of such initiatives can get mixed reactions at best from us. Cardona-Wharton’s attempt to create a “wellness center” that Stanford students would frequent in order to achieve peace of mind was a colossal failure. Similarly, Stanford 2.0 has introduced several initiatives, such as their advocacy for “design thinking” at Stanford, which leaves most people, that is, those who do not belong to the select few jumping on the entrepreneurship bandwagon, wondering where all the time and resources went.
However, grandiose schemes are important. They are important, because if done well, an executive body can leverage a great amount of influence to truly introduce something to the Farm that can significantly alter the lifestyle here. They are also important because only the grandiose ideas seem to get people excited at a campus where enthusiasm for student government elections is incredibly low.
The best slates will offer us great ideas that will relieve us of whatever frustrations we may harbor about our lives at Stanford. But they will also offer plans that we can get excited about, and imagine as parts of our daily lives should these plans get implemented. The race is on, and we are eager to see who crosses the finish line first (or at least with the greatest style)!
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