By Neel Thakkar
For most students interested in running for ASSU office, an essential part of the process is seeking endorsements from various on-campus students groups. These student organizations help the candidates they endorse by tapping their large mailing lists, putting up flyers, posting on Facebook and holding events to introduce the candidates to voters.
To see what goes into the endorsement process, The Daily contacted the leaders of several major endorsement groups to explain how they choose which candidates to support. The Daily contacted the Women’s Coalition and the Green Alliance for Innovative Action multiple times but did not receive a response in time for publication.
First-Generation Low Income Partnership (FLIP)
“Not everyone has the opportunity to speak to the candidates directly,” wrote Lena Sweeney ’12, co-president of FLIP, in an email to The Daily. “If they trust the leaders of FLIP, the endorsements provide information on how candidates support and understand the first-generation/low-income community on campus.”
According to Sweeney, the group selects candidates by reviewing applications submitted by candidates online. From that pool, some of the candidates are invited back for an interview. The FLIP leadership team then votes on all the candidates interviewed to determine whether or not to endorse them.
This year, FLIP endorsed nine candidates for Senate and Robbie Zimbroff ’12 and William Wagstaff ’12 for ASSU Executive.
Jewish Students’ Association (JSA)
The JSA’s endorsement process has three parts: an application, an information session and an interview. In an email to The Daily, Doria Charlson ’13, who runs the endorsement process for the Association, wrote that the group looks for candidates with passion, motivation and an interest in having “a relationship with members of our community and organization.”
This year, the JSA endorsed Zimbroff-Wagstaff for the Executive post, and nine others for Senate positions.
The Queer Coalition looks for candidates with a “spirit of ally-ship” with the queer community, according to Alex Kindel ’14, who heads the Queer Coalition’s endorsement effort, in an email to The Daily. Kindel, an ASSU Senator, also currently serves as ASSU Parlementarian.
Although all of the candidates the Coalition has chosen to endorse this year identify as heterosexual, Kindel said that they all “showed an understanding of queer issues and a dedication to addressing issues that they aren’t personally affected by.”
The Queer Coalition has existed for four years and is composed of representatives from various Queer Voluntary Student Organizations (QVSOs), who together interview all candidates who apply for endorsement.
This year, a majority of the candidates seeking election applied for an endorsement. Of that pool, the Coalition selected six candidates to endorse for Senate and one slate – Zimbroff-Wagstaff – for Executive.
Like most of the other endorsing organizations, the Stanford Democrats select their endorsees after an application and an interview.
In an email to the Daily, Campaign Director Namir Shah ’14 wrote that the Democrats look for candidates who “can make the most tangible impact on the lives of Stanford students, and not necessarily the candidates with the strongest liberal leaning.”
Shah wrote that no more than half of the candidates running typically seek out the Democrats’ endorsement. This year, a group of four interviewers, including Shah, selected the group’s four Senate nominees as well as their choice for Executive, Stewart MacGregor-Dennis’ 13 and Druthi Ghanta ’14.
After MacGregor-Dennis received negative attention for his use of social media contractors, the group reconsidered its endorsement up until polls opened, ultimately deciding to stand by its initial decision.
Like the Democrats, The Review has a defined political stance.
According to Editor in Chief Nadiv Rahman ’13, The Review does “not seek conservative candidates,” but does support those who are “responsible with finances” and do not try to use the ASSU as an “overreaching action committee.”
This year, The Review received endorsement applications from eight prospective Senators and three Executive slates. After reviewing the applications, The Review endorsed four candidates for Senate and one slate – Zimbroff-Wagstaff – for Executive.
Rahman views the endorsements as “signaling functions,” helping people make voting decisions. Still, he sees some problems.
“While we are wary, and sometimes frustrated, by some particular groups whose candidates seem to have an unnatural success rate,” he wrote in an email to the Daily, “it would be beyond a conservative or libertarian paper to claim that there should be increased supervision on who can endorse a candidate.”
The Students of Color Coalition (SOCC)
SOCC is composed of six ethnic community 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).
According to SOCC Liason Tina Duong ’12, about 30 candidates apply for SOCC endorsement each year, making the group’s endorsement one of the most sought after. This year, the group endorsed Zimbroff-Wagstaff for Executive and 12 candidates for Undergraduate Senate.
“All Stanford students have some vested interest in SOCC issues,” Duong wrote in an email to the Daily. “Our candidates are not homogeneous in their ideals, but they all align with SOCC values.”
For further coverage, see “Guaranteed success for SOCC.”
The Editorial Board of The Stanford Daily
The Stanford Daily Editorial Board is independent from The Stanford Daily editorial staff. Currently, five students sit on the board. The Editor in Chief of The Daily chooses the Editorial Board chair through an interview process. The chair then selects a number of students to the Board by application.
The Daily Editorial Board only endorses Executive candidates. This year the Board, led by Chair Adam Johnson ’13, endorsed Zimbroff-Wagstaff. Board members Mitul Bhat ’12, Rebecca Johnson ’11, Peter Johnston ’14 and Meredith Wheeler ’14 all participated in the endorsement process as none hold affiliations with other endorsing bodies.