By Ryane Liao
On April 13, Erica Scott ’20 and Isaiah Drummond ’20 were elected the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) executives for the 2019-20 school year. Scott and Drummond won a close race by 19 votes, a margin of less than 0.5 percent. On the eve of their official inauguration at the Haas Center for Public Service, Erica, Isaiah and their chief of staff Remy Gordon ’20 sat down with The Stanford Daily to discuss politics on campus, the ASSU election and what the student body can expect from them moving forward.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): What sparked your interest in politics, student or general, and how did you first get involved?
Erica Scott (ES): I’ve always been interested in politics in general. My favorite class in high school [was] A.P. Gov [(Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics)], and that was where I realized that policy and politics are really interesting. I did an internship at a court one summer and got to witness the criminal justice system firsthand, and coming into Stanford I knew I wanted to study something policy related.
For Stanford politics, it was kind of a happy accident. I had never been involved in student government before. But during my Admit Weekend, a student I knew suggested that I run for Frosh Council, and without knowing what it was, I trusted him and did it, later realizing I really liked it. I ran for [Undergraduate] Senate my freshman spring and the rest is history.
Isaiah Drummond (ID): My history is a little different. My father was in the military for a bit and he was a big believer in giving back to the community and understanding civic service in general — what is needed to uphold a community. I was just raised that way, so I always knew I wanted to do something in terms of understanding the government structures and working towards that. When I got here, I followed my freshman year [Residential Assistant (RA)] into Stanford in Government and fell in love with it after that and never looked back. Eventually, the biggest impetus for this year particularly was when I became an RA [in Meier] and had to take greater leadership in interacting with the University … As an RA, I get to see the tremendous impact of small [oversights]. After a lot of events that happened on campus [related to] mental health and encouragement from friends, I decided to run. I asked myself, “Why should I not be able to do this?”
TSD: Your platform for this election was delineated by the ABCs — access and accountability, beyond the bubble and caring for our community. What would you say is your number one priority as ASSU executives and why?
ES: Within the A, one thing I think I would like to pursue broadly is improving internal ASSU efficacy. As someone who has worked in the ASSU for a while, I have realized which things are broken and which things we can do structurally to improve the way things run next year. [I am] definitely looking to increase Senate-Exec interaction, which is something I’ve noticed is lacking in my experience in the Senate. I think something we both care a lot about is the “beyond the bubble” aspect of leadership. I think Stanford student government can do a lot that is outward facing, such as advocating for broader community issues, whether that be housing equity in the Bay Area or workers’ rights on this campus and beyond. We plan to fuller allocate a position in our cabinet to engage these sorts of issues.
ID: One of the reasons why I ran and is still a driving force [of our platform] is the idea of improving mental health. I know it’s referenced in a lot of differing capacities, but the main focus should be understanding how most students interact with mental health. How are they able to cope with events that take place outside of the class? We should be able to provide a two-way communication system between students and staff members, and I believe that changes can be made through the residential system, where most students receive their day-to-day support.
TSD: How do you think the Fountain Hopper’s (FoHo) report on Kimiko Hirota ’20 impacted the election? How do you feel about it?
ID: I personally don’t think it had a massive impact during the election. I think that the timing of the release was late, and a lot of people who would be reading the FoHo and wanting to vote had already voted that day. By the time people read it was more of an afterthought or people just didn’t see it. I do think it had an impact on discourse in Stanford’s media in the days after the election, but I don’t think it was something that had a major impact on the outcome.
ES: I think I can speak for all parties in this election that it made everything a lot more negative. I don’t think any one of us wanted personal issues to be the focus of this election and I think we tried really hard to make it a policy conversation. So I do think it contributed to an atmosphere of stress.
TSD: If you could be any politician or political activist from any time period, who would you be?
ES: Samantha Power is my idol. I love her so much.
ID: I have started to develop a new fascination with Coretta Scott King. She went through onslaught I don’t know even if I could handle and [represents] an incredible lesson for me in grassroots organization and activism. One day in her shoes would be a very humbling lesson.
TSD: If you had the whole world’s attention for only 15 seconds, what would you say?
ID: Climate change is real.
ES: I was also thinking climate change — saying something about how it’s not only a real but human issue.
This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed.
Contact Ryane Liao at ryaneytl ‘at’ stanford.edu.