ASSU Assistant Financial Manager Stephen Trusheim ’13 M.S. ’14 has held many different positions within the ASSU during his time at Stanford, including a stint as Elections Commissioner in 2011. With the deadline for declaring intent to seek ASSU office under a week away, The Daily sat down with Trusheim to discuss this year’s elections and the ASSU’s future.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): What has been your involvement with the ASSU?
Stephen Trusheim (ST): My freshman year, I was involved with Frosh Council, which in those days was much more tightly connected to the ASSU. My sophomore year I was the Elections Commissioner, as well as on the Sophomore Class Cabinet for the first half of the year. [In my] junior year, I was the Chair of Student Life and my title kind of shifted around depending on what I was exactly doing at the time, but more or less just working with [former ASSU President] Michael Cruz ['12] on issues about student life. This year, I am the Assistant Financial Manager of the ASSU and I am also on Senior Class Cabinet.
TSD: What do you think about the number of candidates who have declared this year?
ST: It’s about standard. One Executive slate is a bit low… It’s weird that not even the Chappie [the Stanford Chaparral] is running against them. The number of senators is pretty average, the number of GSC (Graduate Student Council) reps is pretty average, special fee groups are up a little bit, but they are always up before petitions come in, and some of them don’t make it.
TSD: Have the elections changed in any significant way during your time at Stanford?
ST: My freshman year was the first year petitions.stanford.edu was a thing… It has had interesting impacts on how the elections work because everyone petitions online now and campaigns online… before that website everyone petitioned on paper.
I personally think that it makes the elections a little bit more issues-focused. You actually have a chance to sit down on your own time and read about the candidates and read about the issues if you so desire… If you are very interested in ASSU elections, you can sit down and really focus on what you want to do in this election as a voter.
TSD: What do you think the ASSU is doing well?
ST: We’ve done a very good job of being invisible… a lot of the services that the ASSU provides and a lot of the things that the ASSU does have just become part of the culture at Stanford. You expect to have these things, and that’s wonderful.
We fund 150 student groups and all you have to do to get money is sit down with them for a half hour and you can get up to $6,000 for your student group… That’s an amazing opportunity that the ASSU actually enables, it doesn’t have to happen.
I think that Nominations Commission is another one of those really important, really in-the-background sorts of things where we have the ability and the right and the opportunity to appoint students to sit on… committees that really make change at this University… It is really those boring pieces of the ASSU that I think function the best, the parts of the ASSU that do work every year and you never hear about it unless you are deeply involved or part of that process.
TSD: What do you think the ASSU needs to improve on?
ST: I think the ASSU needs to have an affirmative vision for the future. We need to say what we want our student life to look like and work towards it. A lot of the ASSU right now is kind of reactive. Suites [Dining] gets shut down, so the ASSU starts dealing with Suites. There’s the whole deal about classes at 8:30 so the ASSU starts dealing with classes at 8:30… I would love to see the ASSU… really work towards a goal and a place we want to be instead of just reacting.
I think we need to improve the services we provide to student groups on the SSE [Stanford Student Enterprises] side of things… student groups are very frustrated with the way our accounting systems work… We need to have better institutional memory. We really need to not lose four months every year because people are getting up to speed on what it is that we do.
TSD: What are the biggest challenges facing the ASSU going forward?
ST: The biggest problems we are going to have are apathy and the fact that a lot of these things are going to be hard work. Everyone is very apathetic towards the ASSU unless they are messing up, in which case they hate it… No one really likes the ASSU, ever.
I don’t blame them, that’s totally fine… even though the vast majority of Stanford students are incredibly intelligent people who could solve problems, they are not inclined to try to solve problems for the ASSU… Everyone wants change, but no one wants to be the people to do it, because why would you work for the ASSU?
TSD: Do you have any predictions for this year’s election, or anything that you would like to see from the candidates or the voters?
ST: Something bad is going to happen in the last week of the election. I have no idea what it is going to be, but for the past three years there has always been something bad that happened in the last week of the election… I want really good, really passionate representatives who are willing to work hard on Senate. I have faith in [ASSU Executive candidates Dan] Ashton ['14] and [Billy] Gallagher ['14] to get things done and I hope they get complemented by solid undergraduate senators who are also willing to deeply consider problems and help out with their solutions.
This interview has been condensed and edited.