The Stanford Review *is pleased to announce our endorsement of Avery Haskell for ASSU Senator. Below are his responses to the questions we asked him about his plans, if elected, for the ASSU. *
Name two goals that you will have accomplished by the end of your Senate term. Please be specific with your policy recommendations.
My primary goal for the 2013-14 ASSU Senate is to revamp the current student petitions website. As it exists, there is no mechanism to ensure that highly-popular petitions will be heard by the ASSU and/or administration. The way I envision the petitions website is as follows:
- Using an Upvote/Downvote format, students will login with their SUID to upvote, downvote, or propose a new petition.
- Top, Upcoming, and Newest pages (similar to Reddit).
- Petitions with 1000+ signatures will receive a written response by the Senate or the administration – this is similar to the White House petitions site.
This new ASSU petitions format will allow more students voice to be heard. Naturally, large and well-supported petitions will be debated within the ASSU Senate. This will become the ideal course for legislative action on campus, provided that students are active and engaged citizens of the Stanford campus.
In my opinion, the next 15 Senators we elect will** not** have all the best ideas for our university. Rather, the undergraduate population collectively has the most innovative proposals and policy ideas. This is why I will continue to emphasize the importance of an upgraded petition website. I do not personally think that the Senators, on average, are any smarter or better qualified than the average student at Stanford. This is why it is important to hear the voices of the undergraduates through a mechanism of direct democracy.
My second goal is to restore funding to cultural centers on campus to pre-2008 levels. When the recession hit, funding dropped. The economy has improved, Stanford has broken fundraising records, and we can now afford to allocate more resources to houses of diversity on campus.
*Which two current ASSU initiatives or programs would you push to eliminate? Why? *
There’s a new proposal to allocate seats on the Senate specifically to upperclassmen candidates. Although I believe it would be beneficial to the diversity of the ASSU to have more juniors and seniors in the chamber, I don’t think we should legislate this action into fruition. We should find incentives to make ASSU Senate attractive to older students. Perhaps we could eliminate the clause that disallows Senators from studying abroad during their term.
Secondly, I think we should eliminate a subdivided appropriations committee. I think it would make sense to have all members of the Senate on that committee, that way every elected member gets to vote on how dollars are allocated among various groups.
*In what ways would you seek to work on the following policy areas within the Senate? *
Change campus rules to allow for more free-speech hours in White Plaza. Aim to weaken administration regulation of student expression in public areas of campus.
Aim to create more campus wide programming (BBQ’s, outdoor activities, movies, etc.) via appropriations grants or through Senate led initiatives.
Allow more student voices to be heard through the usage of social media and the ASSU petitions website. Inform students of all monetary appropriation decisions, and hear their inputs on the matter. Continue to appropriate funding normally, but seek general approval from our constituents.
I would like to implement more online resources for struggling students who aren’t sure where to get help for their academic difficulties. I aim to create greater transparency into the Faculty Senate meetings, in which an ASSU student representative sits on behalf of the undergraduate students. This may clarify upcoming changes or proposals that affect academic life for students.
Restore funding to pre-recession levels. Listen to petition proposals from students who are concerned about the condition or state of cultural centers on campus. Stay in close contact with administrators and student leaders of the cultural centers at Stanford.