As students prepare to vote in this week’s ASSU elections, some voters’ decisions will be informed by candidate endorsements from influential student groups.
According to ASSU Assistant Financial Manager Stephen Trusheim ’13 M.S. ’14, receiving endorsements can be “path-altering” for a candidate, as endorsing groups often sway the votes of large contingents of students.
“It’s important for someone in a community to know who the people are that they can vote for who are going to support their issues,” Trusheim said. “It’s a very difficult thing to wade through 30 or 40 candidates’ platforms and figure out who is actually going to represent the issues that they care about.”
ASSU Undergraduate Senate candidate Brandon Caruso ’16, who was endorsed by the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC), Stanford Democrats, Jewish Student Association (JSA) and Queer Coalition, said that he applied for endorsements because they are “logistically very helpful” in reaching out to voters.
“When you are speaking to individuals in the dining halls or after class in their dorms, they recognize [the endorsing group] right away,” Caruso said. “Once you are elected, you stand to be [the endorsing group’s] presence in the ASSU, to make sure that [the] conversation and agenda does bring up the issues that are important to the various groups and can be represented fully in the Senate.”
Students of Color Coalition
SOCC has historically been one of the most successful endorsing groups. Last year, all 12 Senate candidates endorsed by SOCC were elected. In 2011, 12 of the 15 SOCC-endorsed candidates were elected, and in 2010, 10 of the 12 SOCC candidates were elected. The last four Executive slates endorsed by SOCC have also been victorious.
“SOCC has been the group to apply for, for the last three years now. They do a great job in mobilizing their base for support,” Trusheim said. “Last year, a lot of candidates who didn’t get the SOCC endorsement dropped out, because they just didn’t have the time to go up against that kind of ready-made network of people who will vote for you.”
This year, SOCC endorsed Najla Gomez ’14 and Elizabeth Patiño ’14 for Executive, and Abby Dow ’16, Angela Zhang ’16, Annalis Breed ’16, Avery Haskell ’16, Brandon Caruso ’16, Eilaf Osman ’16, Hisham Al-Falih ’16, John-Lancaster Finley ’16, Natasha Patel ’16, Ryan Matsumoto ’16 and Zane Hellmann ’16 for Senate.
Jewish Student Association
The Jewish Student Association (JSA) endorsed Dan Ashton ’14 and Billy Gallagher ’14 for Executive. According to JSA President Marty Zack ’14, Gomez and Patiño did not submit an endorsement application and “acknowledged they overlooked it” in an email to the group after the deadline had passed.
Gallagher is a Daily staffer and Ashton is a member of The Daily’s Board of Directors.
Zack said that he believes Gallagher and Ashton have “really excellent qualifications” for the position, referencing their “wide and deep involvement in campus activities and their commitment to Stanford.”
The JSA endorsed Brianna Brown ’16, Ben Holston ’15, Nikos Liodakis ’16, Zachary Johnson ’16, Caruso, Matsumoto, Patel, Hellmann, Dow, Breed and Finley for Senate.
“Our goals are often less specific than they are about developing a relationship with the candidates,” Zack said. “We had a few people from our own community run this year, so we were particularly excited to endorse them, especially given that the Jewish community did not have a senator in the last year.”
The Stanford Democrats, the largest political group on campus, endorsed Gomez and Patiño for Executive, and endorsed Caruso, Patel, Dow, Finley and Johnson for Senate.
Nick Ahamed ’15, co-president of the Stanford Democrats, said that the group received applications from 11 Senate candidates and both Executive slates this year. Candidates were chosen based on a written application and short interview.
“First and foremost, we are looking for someone who represents progressive ideology,” Ahamed said. “Beyond that, we look for people who have specific ideas of what they want to get done as well as experience working with the ASSU.”
According to Ahamed, the Stanford Democrats placed a new emphasis this year on candidates who sought a sustained relationship with the group, as a precursor to the group becoming more involved with the Senate next year.
Ahamed noted that the endorsing panel had been impressed by Gomez and Patiño’s “activist background,” and referenced Dow’s plan to expand the Leland Scholars Program as particularly notable.
First-Generation Low Income Partnership
The First-Generation Low Income Partnership (FLIP) also endorsed Gomez and Patiño for Executive, and endorsed Dow, Breed, Lancaster-Finley, Al-Falih, Patel, Brown, Holston and Liodakis for Senate.
All FLIP-endorsed candidates, including nine Senate candidates and the Executive slate, were elected last year. According to FLIP president Jennifer Telschow ’13, FLIP looks for a firm commitment to the group’s issues and constituents when distributing endorsements.
“We try to figure out how much they know about our community,” she said. “They can say they want to help our community, but if they don’t know anything about it, if they don’t know anything about our group or the office we work with, then we kind of start to question if they could actually serve us and if they actually want to serve us.”
According to Telschow, Gomez and Patiño were the only Executive slate to apply for FLIP’s endorsement. Gallagher wrote in an email to The Daily that he and Ashton chose not to apply for the FLIP endorsement because Gomez was listed as the group’s contact on the Election Commission’s website.
Telschow said that Gomez has been a member of the FLIP Core for two years, and has shown a “dedication to our mission.”
“Even in their other groups that are not connected to FLIP, they are always advocating for our community and for first-generation low income issues,” Telschow said. “We’re pretty confident that they would represent our community and allow our voices to be heard, if they were elected.”
The Stanford Review
The Stanford Review endorsed Ashton and Gallagher for Executive, and Dow, Breed, Haskell, Matsumoto, Shivani Baisiwala ’16 (who is no longer listed on the petitions.stanford.edu website) and Revanth Kosaraju ’16 for Senate.
Judith Romea ’14, editor in chief of The Review, said that The Review’s application asked candidates about their views on “hot-button issues” on campus—such as wellness, diversity, free speech and ASSU funds—and sought candidates who would promote a simple yet effective ASSU.
“We want someone who can look at the existing student government and think, ‘Where can we find synergies within the existing structures already, and use this to solve the issues that are most relevant to the student body?’” Romea said. “We believe that Dan Ashton and Billy Gallagher are the candidates best equipped to do that.”
Romea noted that The Review was particularly wary of candidates who suggested the creation of advisory organizations that would further contribute to the ASSU’s bureaucratic nature.
“Other candidates are promising the creation of nice-sounding boards or institutions or groups, but as The Review, we have the opinion that a larger, more complicated ASSU doesn’t necessarily translate into a more effective ASSU,” she said.
Gomez and Patiño were endorsed by the Green Alliance for Innovative Action (GAIA), iThrive, the Women’s Coalition, the Queer Coalition and the SSFP, as well as SOCC, FLIP and Stanford Democrats.
The Queer Coalition also endorsed Osman, Holston, Breed and Caruso for Senate.
Update: The Queer Coalition has included its list of endorsed candidates and the article has been updated to include those notes.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, The Daily omitted the fact that the Gomez-Patiño Executive slate was also endorsed by iThrive. The Daily regrets this error.