ASSU President and Vice President deliver State of the Union Address

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ASSU President Elizabeth Woodson ’15 and Vice President Logan Richard ’15 delivered the annual State of the Union Address in White Plaza on Friday. In their speech, they summarized the projects the ASSU has worked on this year and focused their talk on sexual assault and mental health issues.

Woodson said the ASSU has made supporting the community a priority. One aspect of that was instituting the Community Care Grant program, which gives students $50-$100 grants to “promote care” on campus. For example, one grant went towards purchasing items so a house could turn a closet into a meditation space.

 

Prioritizing sexual assault reform and mental health

In the speech, Woodson explained that addressing the issues of sexual assault and relationship violence has been a priority for the ASSU. Woodson has been serving on the Task Force on Sexual Assault Policies and Practices, which was created by Provost John Etchemendy last year to reexamine Stanford’s approach and response to sexual assault. She said recommendations from the committee will be released to the public soon.

She also called the work of establishing clear processes for the adjudication of sexual assault cases and ensuring adequate support for survivors “a foundation.”

“How are we, as a campus, going to engage going forward?” she asked. “Can we reframe the conversation? In the past, this has been about the absence of hate and violence.… Can we make it about the presence of respect and safety?”

According to Woodson, the other priority issue has been mental health. Over 1,500 students took a recent ASSU survey that provided data about student familiarity with mental health resources and potential changes they wished to see in mental health resources.

As a result of the survey, next year’s student ID cards will have a number of emergency numbers printed on the back, including a suicide hotline and sexual assault hotline.

Other efforts this quarter have included the ASSU’s release and distribution of Release.Restart.Review, a new student-produced literary arts magazine focusing on mental health outside of diagnosis, to dorms and community centers.

Last week, the ASSU also hosted a town hall meeting, attended by over 50 students, with CAPS director Ron Albucher. Richard said that the ASSU is currently working with CAPS, Vaden and Student Affairs on “an exciting project” but could not give any specifics.

 

Addressing other issues

One of the other main changes during Woodson and Richard’s time in office was the student body’s passing a funding reform bill. Richard said the ASSU is working to disseminate information about the bill and to introduce the new annual grants.

This year, the ASSU also created an equipment room, from which students will be able to check out sound and audio equipment for events.

According to Woodson, other members of the ASSU cabinet have been working on “social impact and environmental and energy sustainability,” and she explained that they have been connecting student groups and resources to eliminate redundancy.

 

Contact Emma Johanningsmeier at  [email protected]

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