The Stanford Review *is pleased to announce our endorsement of Shivani Baisiwala for ASSU Senator. Below are her responses to the questions we asked her about her 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.
First, I would establish Senate Office Hours. I think it is important to have a session of 2-3 hours during the week, where a few Senators are available to talk about what students feel Senate should address. Second, I want to work on events. I hope to change fund distribution so every group has what they need for events. I also think individuals should be able to have events. Senate should match them with an organization that can help support the event. Finally, I want to have an overall database, where students could see everything that is happening on any given day.
*Which two current ASSU initiatives or programs would you push to eliminate? Why? *
At Stanford, activities fees are ridiculously high. The unspent money goes to reserve accounts, instead of back to the students. The ASSU is working on this by giving Senate authority over the unspent money. Though I support that, I think they need more guidelines to it. They need to decide exactly where the money is going to go, instead of having various nebulous options. Also, Senate needs to collaborate with organizations to ensure that their efforts aren’t overlapping. I would push to eliminate any program that an organization is already working on, just so Senate can focus efforts and be more effective.
*In what ways would you seek to work on the following policy areas within the Senate? *
I would create Senate office hours, which I think would really contribute to free speech on campus. In addition, I would seek to expand and publicize the petition system already in place on the new Senate website. These would both allow more students to express their opinions. It would also allow those students who simply have issues they want to present to Senate to do so.
Student Life is the committee that works on this. I would try to work within that committee to create programming that could alleviate some of the stress associated with dead week. They have already implemented petting zoos, but that is definitely something that could be further expanded. We could also have massage workshops, yoga, or other fun, stress-relieving activities. I would also try to make CAPS more accessible to students by publicizing what is available to students.
I would change appropriations policy to make sure funds are being appropriated efficiently, and that student groups that need money are getting what they need for programming. This can be achieved in a number of ways. Right now, many student groups have money left over at the end of the year that does not necessarily roll over. Senate could take that money and distribute it as necessary to groups who need funds. Senate could also work with the organizations to figure out a way in which they can use that money the next year, rather than just losing it entirely.
I would like to work on the advising program, specifically for freshmen. Many freshmen do not realize that there are certain classes they have to take in sequence, or that there are classes that they have to start a certain quarter. The PMA system does not help with that. Again, there are many ways Senate can work to fix this. One simple way would be to emphasize the information more during NSO, and ensure that freshmen are fully aware of the common classes that function like that, such as math and chemistry.
In terms of diversity, I think community centers are the most important aspect that we can work on. Many community centers are not receiving the funding they need, which is very important to them being able to provide the resources and support that they are meant to. It also makes it difficult for them to have the programming they would like to. In addition, many groups on campus do not even have a community center. I would very much like to start the process of getting community centers built for those groups that do not currently have one.