Despite a lack of significant ASSU experience, the Executive slate of Tenzin Seldon ’12 and Joe Vasquez ’11 believe that their extensive work with numerous communities around campus makes them ideally suited to become ASSU Executives. In an interview with The Daily, Seldon and Vasquez emphasized “bridging the gap” between different groups as the key theme of their campaign.
Speaking about their relative inexperience, Vasquez believes it will be a “tremendous benefit.”
The two candidates went on to discuss their current campus affiliations. Since entering Stanford as a transfer student at the start of the 2009-10 academic year, Seldon has been actively involved in Stanford’s community centers and its ethnic communities. Vasquez has extensive experience in Stanford Student Enterprises and with the Greek system as a member of Kappa Sigma. Both individuals are also heavily involved with first generation and low-income students, and have made outreach to them a central tenet of their campaign.
“Our role is to go out into those communities and be the utility for these communities, to collaborate with one another on these issues—on issues of diversity, on issues of mental health, on issues of transparency,” Seldon said. “We are the platform where every group can come together and talk about issues that are divisive and talk about issues that are uniting.”
The second major plank of the slate’s platform is a focus on mental health and wellness. When asked what they believed was the most pressing issue facing students today, both Seldon and Vasquez immediately highlighted a lack of dialogue and resources around mental health, and emphasized the focus on mental health issues as a major point distinguishing them from opposing slates.
“We believe that talking about anxiety, depression and just fundamental things that human beings go through is not something that a lot of students here talk about,” Seldon said. “We want to change that culture—that’s on a community level, but that’s also a very individual level.”
“What we mean by mental health is not just access to Vaden and the Bridge,” she said. “What we mean is a more institutionalized and systematic culture that has been built, which is lack of courses around mental health, lack of events that talk about issues of depression and anxiety—that’s what we’re trying to change.”
Current ASSU President Angelina Cardona ’11 approved of the slate’s commitment to mental health. Seldon worked in Cardona’s cabinet as the chair of diversity, tolerance and equality.
“I am happy to see that they have this emphasis since it is one of the main priorities our administration has had this year and because, more importantly, change on these issues takes time so having the next exec have similar values is crucial to real progress,” Cardona wrote in an email to The Daily.
Students who have worked with Seldon and Vasquez in the past had high praise for their abilities and qualifications for the Executive position. Milton Achelpohl ’13, who worked with Seldon on the ASSU’s diversity, tolerance and equality team this year, agreed that her experience working with a large number of different communities as part of the ASSU’s diversity outreach efforts would make her a strong ASSU President.
“What I really see with Tenzin and Joe is a very real commitment and passion for these issues…whether it be diversity or community-building on Stanford’s campus,” he said. “I don’t see them as ever taking the status quo as enough. Whether it’s on issues of sexual violence or transgender issues that are really a hot topic now, or whether it’s on issues that are unforeseen today, I don’t imagine them just saying, ‘OK, that’s fine,’ or taking a backseat.”
Keren Mikva ’12, who worked extensively with Vasquez as part of Stanford Habitat for Humanity, said she believed Vasquez’s abilities would translate well to the ASSU Executive position.
“[Joe] is really focused on getting people involved,” she said. “A lot of it is asking us for input and trying to make sure that people can take ownership of what we’re working on. He’s also a really gracious leader.”