It’s ASSU elections season and campus is once again blanketed with the cheesy slogans and campaign promises of those seeking what passes for public office among undergraduates. It’s only a matter of time until one of them hires a blimp, Goodyear-style, to hover over campus.
For a University that prides itself on diversity, you would expect candidates of every stripe with different agendas to focus on different issues. You’d be wrong. Instead, most candidates sound the same, act the same and make the same promises. This is because ASSU elections are less about substance than winning a campus-wide popularity contest.
It would be easier to have an actual campaign if Stanford had more problems. Perhaps you think I’m being insensitive; your community center had its budget cut by 10% last year, and you’re very upset! Yes, but you still don’t have much to complain about.
Instead, Senate candidates like to focus on a time-honored list of initiatives that most people can support without thinking too hard.
Take, for example, the question of faculty and graduate student diversity. It appears on nearly every candidate’s platform, just as it did last year. Has anything been done about it? Of course not. It’s just one of those things you say when you run for Senate.
Two points need to be made about the Senate’s oft-proclaimed commitment to diversity. First, no one can say no, because at Stanford diversity is the Holy Grail.
Second, when it comes to hiring and admissions there is precious little that the ASSU can do. The University is already an equal opportunity employer. The repetitious commitments to diversity sometimes obscure the fact that Stanford’s undergraduate body is already ethnically diverse. The diversity we lack is not in skin color, but in politics and ideas.
Consider the nebulous promises, so often made, to increase student involvement in the ASSU. Think about this one for a minute: do you actually want to spend more of your day dealing with the ASSU? I couldn’t think of a bigger waste of time. What we really need is a Senate that gets things done quietly and efficiently without anyone noticing.
Ben Casement Stoll ‘10