In a few days, when you fill out your ASSU ballot, The Stanford Review encourages you to mark a “1” next to the names Tenzin Seldon and Joe Vasquez. Driven by a need to implement policies that do not simply sound nice, but are actually effective, this duo’s policy ideas will impress the ASSU cynic and policy wonk alike.
Both Seldon and Vasquez have lived busy, varied lives throughout their time at Stanford. Tibetan, but born and raised in India as a refugee, Seldon became heavily involved in the Tibetan community at Stanford. She served as the Regional Coordinator and activist for Students for a Free Tibet, and in made national news in early 2010, her private Gmail account was hacked from China along with those of other dissidents. This past year, she served as ASSU Diversity and Tolerance Chair.
Vasquez has spent his time outside of Stanford focusing on international development and his time at Stanford focusing on social entrepreneurship and service. He was a founding member of SSE Labs, has been a member of the Stanford Alcohol Advisory Board, is a member of the Greek community, and is a part of the Latino Board Leadership Academy.
But what is most impressive about Seldon and Vasquez, with regard to the coming year, is their commitment to good governance. They have constructed a plan to carefully consider the costs and benefits of all ASSU programs so that student government can be of the greatest benefit to all parties.
Tenzin/Vasquez’s approach to wellness exemplifies this commitment to good governance. To promote the well-being of the student body, they will focus on effective wellness initiatives with localized targeting. Further, the slate wants to commission a study, conducted by experts, to determine the best approaches to ensuring wellness on campus.
But they already have a solution of their own too: take wellness to the students rather than making the students find it. While they will continue to host workshops and wellness initiatives, they plan to partner with Peer Health Educators (PHEs), Greek organizations, and physical health organizations on campus to better integrate wellness into dorms, the places where students spend so much of their time. The Tenzin/Vasquez team also plans to explore lowering Stanford’s Standard of Proof in cases of sexual assault, a valuable and much needed change in Stanford’s policy toward sexual assault cases. This is a change that could potentially make it easier for victims of sexual assault to come forward.
Furthermore, the team understands the difficulties that many students face when trying to pay for their eduction at Stanford, and they value every dollar that students give to the student groups through Special Fees. Therefore, Tenzin/Vasquez want to promote the emergence of more entrepreneurial ideas surrounding the funding process. One of the ideas they will consider is a voucher system through which students pay their Special Fees. This system would give students the ultimate choice in how they spend their money, and it would allow students to fund groups they consider valuable but which might not receive adequate funding under the more inefficient system we currently have.
To further increase the quality of governance by the ASSU Executive, Tenzin/Vasquez will promote transparency throughout their administration. Because the ASSU Executive itself has a large discretionary budget ($10,000 a year), Tenzin/Vasquez plan to have an advisory board that will review all major expenditures made by the Executive. This measure is meant to ensure that abuses of the discretionary budget that have occurred in the past are not happening under their watch.
A Seldon Administration will protect and preserve valuable ASSU services, but it will be unafraid of reforming or even eliminating ineffective ones if necessary. Ineffective services deprive effective ones of valuable resources that would better serve the student body, and Tenzin/Vasquez recognize this. For instance, the slate shows promise in its Tenzin/Vasquez expressed a willingness to eliminate the social chair position in the ASSU cabinet, a position which they believe has been largely ineffective in facilitating community collaboration on campus this past year.
But because community building is such a cornerstone of their platform, Tenzin/Vasquez have planned to broaden campus dialogs so that they include more than just one or two communities. The team sees community fragmentation as the source of major tensions and mistrust between groups on campus, utand that true progress can be made only when communities and individuals can come together in forums rooted in exchange., not distrust.
Seldon has spent the past few years at Stanford honing her skills as a community organizer and shepherding the new Diversity Advisory Board. Both she and Vasquez envision institutionalizing the Diversity Advisory Board and collaborating with community center directors for its initiatives. Vasquez has also organized LGBTQ and relationship abuse workshops for the Greek community, a community of which he himself is a member. The slate will use their experience and proven methods of supporting diversity to further develop community on campus in their roles as ASSU Executives.
So in this ASSU Executive race, let’s try something different. Let’s try voting for a slate of candidates who have done their most successful work in the greater Stanford community and outside of the ASSU. When you vote, we encourage you to place a “1” next to Tenzin/Vasquez.