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Endorsing groups explain decisions

Many campus organizations choose to sponsor candidates for ASSU elections in order to better inform their constituents. Endorsing groups email their large lists, update their Facebook pages, put up flyers and hold events to introduce their endorsed candidates to members of their community.

The Daily spoke with leaders from the major endorsement groups on campus to break down what they stand for and how they decide on endorsements.

The Students of Color Coalition

The Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) includes six student groups: the Asian American Students’ Association (AASA), the Black Student Union (BSU), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), the Muslim Student Awareness Network (MSAN), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Stanford American Indian Organization (SAIO).

SOCC Liaison Tiq Chapa ’11 said a majority of candidates apply for SOCC endorsement in a typical year. This year, SOCC endorsed 15 candidates for Undergraduate Senate and gave its support to Cruz & Macgregor-Dennis for Executive.

The Queer Coalition

The Queer Coalition has existed for three years and is composed of representatives from queer voluntary student organizations (QVSOs) such as the Queer/Straight Alliance (QSA), Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL), La Familia and Black and Queer at Stanford (BlaQS).

SSQL co-president and Daily staffer Holly Fetter ’13 was quick to make a distinction between Queer Coalition and SSQL.

“The Queer Coalition is not the same as SSQL,” Fetter wrote in an email to The Daily.

“It is a group that represents all QVSOs and SSQL is only one part of that group,” Fetter said. “This conflation of SSQL and anything queer at Stanford is so common and so problematic.”

Representatives from each QVSO get together to interview candidates and decide who to endorse. This year, the Queer Coalition endorsed eight Undergraduate Senate candidates and Cruz & Macgregor-Dennis for Executive.

“As part of the endorsement, we will work with endorsed senators to educate them about queer issues and about issues to work on in the ASSU and to advocate for in the larger Stanford community,” Kevin Roberts ‘13, BlaQS co-president, wrote in an email to The Daily.

The Green Alliance for Innovative Action

GAIA is a coalition of the main sustainability-focused student groups at Stanford. Its current partners include Students for a Sustainable Stanford (SSS), the Green Living Council (GLC), Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), the Stanford Wind and Energy Project (SWEP), Energy Crossroads (EC) and IDEAS.

A review board of seven members from the GAIA member groups reviewed applications and conducted interviews with Senate candidates and Executive slates.

Theo Gibbs ’11, the current ASSU sustainability chair, said review board members anonymously scored each candidate according to a set of evaluation criteria, with a total possible score of 15 points. Senate candidates who received 11 points or more were approved for endorsement.

The two Exec slates were tied for points so the review board held a separate vote in order to make the decision. To avoid conflict of interest issues, Gibbs, who is currently on the Executive Cabinet, was present at the interviews and gave comments, but did not vote or score any of the candidates.

Gibbs said the GAIA endorsement affected candidates’ campaign practices.

“GAIA endorsement means not only including environmental and social sustainability in policy, but also in practice,” Gibbs wrote in an email to The Daily. “We require our candidates to commit to environmentally responsible campaigning practices, such as reduced flyering and using reused paper or 100-percent recycled content paper.”

The Jewish Student Association

The JSA executive committee, President Isaac Bleaman ’12 and two vice presidents read applications and interviewed candidates for endorsements. The JSA makes its decisions based solely on these applications and interviews.

“We hope our endorsement is a meaningful component of our candidates’ campaigns,” Bleaman wrote in an email to The Daily. “And we look forward to maintaining a relationship with them throughout their term.”

Women’s Coalition

The Women’s Coalition is made up of more than 30 women’s voluntary student organizations (VSOs) and more than 60 individual members from the groups. Candidates must complete an application that asks what experience have they have with women’s issues as well as general problems facing women at Stanford. They are interviewed at the Women’s Community Center.

The five-member core of the Women’s Coalition is responsible for final decisions, although WVSO leaders also have decision-making power and were invited to deliberate on candidates.

The Women’s Coalition has endorsed Tenzin-Vasquez for Executive and 12 candidates for Undergraduate Senate.

“There are many issues facing women at Stanford, one of the most important of which is sexual assault and relationship abuse,” wrote Viviana Arcia ’13, president of the Women’s Coalition, in an email to The Daily. “As such, WoCo is committed to endorsing, educating and supporting ASSU representatives to serve as allies and advocates for women and their concerns.”

The Stanford Democrats

Among the Stanford Democrats, an eight-member board interviews and selects candidates to endorse. They do not set a limit on the number of Senate candidates they endorse. If they do not come to consensus on a particular endorsement, they will use a majority vote. The Dems have endorsed eight Undergraduate Senate candidates and Cruz & Macgregor-Dennis for Executive.

Andy Parker ’11, president of the Stanford Democrats, explained that they consider issues beyond the Stanford bubble when making their endorsement.

“We choose candidates that will advocate for and support Democratic priorities on campus and at the local, state and national levels,” Parker wrote in an email to The Daily. “We endorse candidates because we have seen the impact that they can make.”

The Editorial Board of the Stanford Review

The Stanford Review’s Editorial Board endorsed Tenzin-Vasquez for Executive this year.

“The Review sought to identify those candidates who would best embrace their roles as responsible, thoughtful, effective leaders of this student body,” wrote Review Editor in Chief Autumn Carter ’11 of her publication’s selection process in an April 5 article.

Specifically, we sought to identify those candidates who would allocate your money efficiently and under budget,” she said. “We sought candidates whose minds were open to alternative assessments and proposed solutions to campus problems surrounding issues such as wellness, diversity, appropriations and free speech.”

The Editorial Board of the Stanford Daily

The Stanford Daily Editorial Board is an independent entity from The Stanford Daily. The Editor-in-Chief chooses the Editorial Board chair through an interview process, usually with the help of a few senior editors. The Editorial Board chair then selects a number of students to the Board. The number isn’t mandated but typically totals six or seven members.

This year, Adam Creasman ’11 is the Editorial Board chair. He is joined by seven members: Stephanie Garrett ’12, Nick Baldo ‘12, Ada Kulenovic ’11, Cyrus Navabi ’11, Varun Sivaram ’11, Tiq Chapa ’10 and Andy Parker ’11.

Members Chapa and Parker recused themselves from the Board’s endorsement process this year because of their affiliations with the SOCC and Stanford Democrats endorsement processes, respectively.

The Daily Editorial Board only endorses Executive candidates. It makes its decision based on interviews with the Executive slates. This year, the Editorial Board chose to endorse Tenzin-Vasquez for ASSU Executive.

According to Elections Commissioner Stephen Trusheim ’13, the endorsements process is not regulated at all, except for Executive slates who may receive financial help from their endorsing groups.

“As someone who has seen elections, it’s a thing candidates use to show they are supported by a community, and those groups help do the ground work ,” he said. “I don’t think there are any problems with it all. It can be improved, but it doesn’t give them an advantage officially over anyone else.”

Kate Abbott contributed to this story.

 

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