For the 2014-15 ASSU Executive, The Stanford Daily’s Editorial Board unanimously endorses Lauren Miller ’15 and Geo Saba ’15, the slate that we feel will best serve the student body over the upcoming year through a combination of focused and measurable policies and a firm grasp on the nuances and appropriate role of the ASSU.
Throughout the interview process and Monday’s Executive slate debate, the Board found both of this year’s credible slates to possess remarkable qualities. Both Miller/Saba and Woodson/Richard demonstrated clear leadership ability, a passion for serving the student body in its entirety and platforms that combine ambition and attention to detail. Given the ASSU’s recent struggles in attracting a credible set of candidates at all levels of the ballot, both slates represent an opportunity for the rejuvenation of Stanford’s student government – and, through their shared support for initiatives like increasing the ASSU’s engagement with freshmen, we think highly of both slates’ ability to leave a constructive legacy. Nevertheless, given that institutional decay and the limitations of time and scope imposed on any ASSU Executive, we feel most confident in Miller/Saba’s ability to make the most of their term in office.
In recent years, the ASSU has worked best when it has sought to improve on existing processes and resources, or to better support Stanford’s abundance of thriving student organizations. Conversely, it has historically struggled when seeking to assume too much responsibility or to function as a centralized body for a student population that is both decentralized and largely apathetic towards the ASSU. Miller and Saba – a former Senator and the current Chair of the Constitutional Council, respectively – have a unique familiarity with the ASSU and how best to operate within the institution’s framework, allowing them to seek to impact campus life from the very start of their term and effectively respond to unforeseen and contentious issues as they emerge.
Equally importantly, Miller/Saba demonstrated a greater degree of realism with regards to the ASSU’s limitations, the importance of prioritizing between various legislative initiatives and the value of emphasizing initiatives – like increasing the availability of meeting and practice spaces – that can be accomplished within a year, rather than dashing between divergent efforts, imposing on the work of student groups and administrators with more experience in a given field and ultimately becoming overwhelmed by an overly ambitious workload.
This familiarity with how best to serve the student body from within the ASSU will benefit the Miller/Saba slate most clearly with regards to the implementation of the SAFE Reform proposal, should it win approval from the student body at the end of this week. A comprehensive overhaul of Stanford’s student activities funding system is a necessary and critical measure, and one that both slates have professed support for. Given, however, the importance of a smooth transition, we retain more confidence in the more experienced slate’s ability to effectively manage the changeover.
A successful Executive should also be able to effectively represent the student body in its entirety, including possessing the ability to forge connections with segments of the student body that have been historically neglected. Miller has demonstrated the ability to build relationships with divergent groups across campus, a trait that will prove valuable over the upcoming year. Saba’s status as a student-athlete, meanwhile, represents an opportunity to not only engage with a significant and often distant part of the Stanford community but also to draw on the lessons and resources that the student-athlete community has successfully made use of.
We commend Woodson and Richard for their planned engagement with the student-athlete community, and we are enthusiastic about their idea of implementing the Athletic Department’s popular mentorship program across the broader student body, but we view the Miller/Saba slate as better positioned to implement it.
Woodson and Richard’s strengths as a slate and as candidates remain significant. The slate demonstrated a remarkable enthusiasm for establishing relationships with students, faculty and administrators that would stand any ASSU Executive in good stead. They moreover produced a platform that stood apart in its comprehensive nature and attention to detail, and we encourage Miller and Saba to adopt measures like an emphasis on improved advising. We remain concerned, however, that the slate appears to have adopted somewhat of a scattershot approach to its legislative priorities, some of which seem unattainable within just a year, and feel that it would benefit from the focus and attention to feasibility – if not the slightly more cursory approach to details – demonstrated by the Miller/Saba slate.
This endorsement is an affirmative one. The Stanford community would ultimately be well served by either slate, and we encourage the successful slate to draw on the better ideas of its rival. Nevertheless, the Miller/Saba slate offers a combination of more experienced leadership, the intent of combining realistic and pragmatic short- and long-term measures into a comprehensive and successful legacy and the ability to broaden the appeal of the ASSU to an alarmingly apathetic community. For those reasons, this Board extends our full support to the Miller/Saba slate in this year’s ASSU election.
The Stanford Daily’s Editorial Board is chaired by President and Editor in Chief George Chen ’15. He is joined by Executive Editor Marshall Watkins ’15, Managing Editor of Sports Do-Hyoung Park ’16 and Managing Editor of Opinions Winston Shi ’16.