When you vote for ASSU Executive, The Stanford Review encourages you to place a “1” next to the names of Dan Ashton and Billy Gallagher. For a while now, the ASSU has struggled to justify its existence on campus, as evidenced by decreasing student participation and waning faith in the institution. While there have been some bright spots, past ASSU Executives have ballooned the executive branch, pursued fruitless initiatives, and even committed ethical slip-ups. Ashton and Gallagher will bring legitimacy back to the ASSU by focusing on realistic, high-impact policies, common sense funding decisions, and effective advocacy on behalf of the student body.
When he ended his volume as Editor of the Stanford Daily, Gallagher wrote an editor’s note that struck a chord with many students on campus. He lamented the problems at Stanford and the campus culture that failed to address them. But he also complained about the University’s inability to hear or respond to students, specifically journalists, who endeavored to address these issues. It’s with this grievance and inspiration that Ashton and Gallagher decided to run.
The two want to make the ASSU Executive a legitimate advocate of the student body once again. And this means more than organizing protests. They’ll push for regular meetings with top Stanford administrators, including monthly sit-downs with President Hennessey, to start developing meaningful relationships between students and the Stanford powers-at-be. Helpfully, they already have personal relationships with some of these decision-makers. They’ll also ensure that the university committee system, which involves students representing the student body to professors and administrators, functions properly.
And we should trust them to represent us to the university, as they come from a diversity of places and experiences on campus. Dan Ashton serves as a Residential Assistant in Donner, as a former ASSU senator, and as a Board of Trustees Committee on Finance Member. He also belongs to Sigma Nu fraternity and Los Hermanos. Billy Gallagher served as Editor in Chief of the Stanford Daily, Kappa Sigma President, and Financial Officer of Stanford Ski Team. Both know the workings of the ASSU but have experienced life beyond it as well. This experience will help them wield the limited, but important power of the ASSU executive.
Aside from advocacy, the slate hopes to focus heavily on the ASSU financial situation, a system into which students pay over $400 a year. Within the ASSU every year, thousands of unused student fee dollars pile up in reserve, sometimes in a general fund, and sometimes in student groups’ own reserve funds. Students expect this money to be used during the year when they pay the fee. Ashton/Gallagher want to reform the system so that when students pay fees, the money is used and not tucked away for future years. Gallagher told the Review that any reserve money spent would need to be “judicious and well-thought out.” They’re not sure yet exactly what reform looks like, but pushing it in the first place displays their knowledge of the system and their concern for students’ finances.
In general, the slate wants to support student groups who already conduct great programming, rather than duplicating their efforts. In this spirit, they hope to seriously address mental health issues on campus. But they won’t reinvent the wheel, because CAPS at Vaden and Bridge Peer Counseling have already put considerable thought into mental health issues on campus. Ashton and Gallagher want to make these existing structures more effective and more accessible, so they’re considering using some of their discretionary funds to increase Bridge Peer Counseling Center funding as well as increasing awareness of these resources in general.
Also important on their task list is restarting the Executive Committee, a committee mandated by the ASSU constitution and meant to coordinate efforts among the ASSU. A committee like this is important, because past ASSU Executive branches have toiled on duplicative projects.
Ultimately, Ashton and Gallagher want to refocus the ASSU’s efforts on real change for students on campus. According to most students on campus, the ASSU is ineffective, concerned with frivolities, and especially annoying during election season. This year, that refrain can be ended. Ashton and Gallagher want to focus on “practical and pragmatic solutions” to real problems experienced by the average student. They understand that the role of the ASSU is to focus on high-impact policies that students want, like football tailgates, viewing parties, independence at Suites Dining, and serious approaches to mental health and sexual assault.
Stanford students have real concerns, and Ashton and Gallagher have proven their interest in solving these. The ASSU doesn’t have to be a non-entity. It doesn’t have to be an annoying entity. It can do good. We encourage you to place a “1” next to Ashton and Gallagher.