With their “One Stanford” campaign underway, Angelina Cardona ’11 and Kelsei Wharton ’12 are hoping to clinch the ASSU executive seats on a promise of unifying students and stakeholders — balancing vast goals with specific student life issues.
Both international relations majors, the pair became friends while they were team leaders for the Foundations for Education (F4Ed) math tutoring program.
Though they joined the race at the tail end of the petitioning period, the two have gained significant traction with the student body, bagging endorsements from seven major student groups: the Student of Color Coalition (SOCC), the Queer Coalition, California College Democrats, the Women’s Coalition, the Green Alliance for Innovative Action (GAIA), The Stanford Progressive and the Stanford Daily Editorial Board.
Cardona and Wharton are no strangers to campus politics, and are the only undergraduate slate with major ASSU experience.
Cardona, currently a freshman resident assistant in Trancos, served as dorm president in Branner her freshman year and was selected as chair of mental health and later as co-chief of staff under former executives Jonny Dorsey ’09 and Fagan Harris ’09.
Wharton, who is currently the deputy chair of the Undergraduate Senate, was previously a Frosh Council representative and served as Ujamaa dorm president. Outside the political realm, Wharton is involved in Volunteers of Latin America (VILA) and the Haas Center’s Public Service Leadership Program.
The slate is the only one eligible to receive $750 in public financing, for which it qualified after gathering valid signatures from more than 50 graduate students and 50 undergrads during the petition process.
Their motivations to run are diverse, but both candidates struck personal chords when explaining their decisions.
Cardona said that, her freshman year, she was approached by a friend who contemplated suicide, an incident that opened her eyes to the importance of mental health issues on campus. She described the experience as the “biggest motivating factor” behind her involvement in campus politics.
Wharton, on the other hand, envisions campus politics as an opportunity to mentor younger students. He credited his parents, who he said kept investing in him even as they went through the difficulties of a divorce.
Reflecting on previous administrations, Cardona and Wharton both agreed that current president David Gobaud, a coterminal student in computer science, has improved the student experience.
Still, Wharton believes that the direction of the ASSU can be better targeted at wider-scale change, and the pair agreed that relations with the Graduate Student Council and Senate in particular can be more effective.
“The ASSU right now is not about leadership development,” Wharton said. “I really want to invest in people the way that I’ve been invested in.”
Wharton believes challenges this year with the Senate Appropriations Committee, in particular, can be worked on in a manner more amenable to students.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee and staff member for VILA, Wharton said he has sat on both sides of budget book and sympathizes with frustrated VSOs.
“I don’t fault them. I fault us,” Wharton said.
Among a number of platform points aimed at public service and diversity, sustainability and well-being, Cardona and Wharton also hope to increase dining options for students by launching a dining hall program that exclusively serves halaal, kosher and vegan meals.
According to Cardona, who met with Eric Montell, the executive director of Stanford Dining, Murray would be a likely possibility for the site of a pilot program.
The two are also interested in the green dorm project and expansion of the pilot trayless dining program.
They also want to re-frame mental health issues in a more “positive light,” Cardona said, citing priorities such as breaking down stigma surrounding counseling and stress and leveraging programs that make response mechanisms to sexual assault more accessible to students.