If there is one thing that I walked away from my 19th Undergraduate Senate experience knowing for certain, it is that Stanford’s administration (President, Provost, Vice Provosts and their staff) requires student leaders who are willing to work collaboratively within existing systems to make change happen. This is not to say that existing systems should remain or that activism does not have a place in the ASSU, but rather that the most sustainable and lasting change comes about when students are able to bridge the gap between themselves and the administration. It is no coincidence that some of the movements that we have seen during the last years at Stanford have stalled while others, like the Serra-renaming, have moved forward. Activism is central to change on Stanford’s campus, especially as evidenced by SCOPE 2035 in the GUP process. However, the most effective models of leadership I have seen have been centered around a model in which the ASSU representatives have a different role than the activists: that of active student-administration collaboration within the university’s channels.
The power that activism can have on shaping campus discourse was also made clear by the walk-out last year at the Robert Spencer event. Those who walked out expressed their dissent and took away a significant portion of Spencer’s platform. The rally held afterwards provided a necessary space for people to protest and come together in support of the Muslim community at Stanford. After the event, however, my fellow senator Erica Scott worked with the Dean of Students, Vice Provost of Student Affairs, and other administrators to advocate for a new system for inviting potential speakers to campus. It is this reciprocal relationship between activism and people working from the inside that pushes movements forward. Without either component, little can be accomplished.
Erica and Isaiah have proven to be excellent communicators and collaborators working for change within and outside the administration’s channels over the three years I have known both of them. To give one of many examples, while on senate Erica worked with other members of the Student Life Committee and me to meet with the on-campus police force and the Confidential Support Team so we could reform AlertSU to include resources and trigger warnings, and create a more uniform and professional alert system. This would not have been possible without first establishing a common ground with administrators and uniting around the common goals of student safety and well-being. Isaiah also understands the importance of collaboration in part because of his experience organizing NSO for the 2017-2018 school year during which he was my direct supervisor. Isaiah spearheaded the organization and logistics of just about every event at NSO, which required coordination with community centers, administrators, offices and students all around campus.
After interacting regularly with the administration myself and getting to know Isaiah and Erica very well over the course of the last three years, I know Erica and Isaiah are the best choice for ASSU Exec. They are pragmatic, approachable, knowledgeable about navigating Stanford’s channels, and capable. Because Erica and Isaiah are committed to bringing about sustainable, lasting change through collaboration with both the administration and all different student experiences, as is the central role of the ASSU Exec, they have my vote and unwavering support.
— Lizzie Ford ’20, member of 19th Undergraduate Senate
Contact Lizzie Ford at eford20 ‘at’ stanford.edu.