Recently, I was reflecting on my transition to college. Dad said it would be a great opportunity to get rid of the parts of my past and character that weren’t good, and to only show people what I wanted to about myself. But everyone has flaws, and those are generally what we work on. This means that none of our history should be forgotten, since our history is the journey toward resolving those flaws.
I use “we” and “our” here, since I’m referring to the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) and Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE). The ASSU has existed since 1891, and that’s pretty amazing—we’re almost 130 years old! Since its foundation, the ASSU has spent its time influencing positive change on campus and providing over $3 million in annual funding for student groups so that everyone can find communities they belong to. Fast forward to 1995—we became financially independent from the University and thus founded SSE. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of SSE’s founding and the ASSU’s financial independence, we’ve gone through some rebranding.
What is rebranding, then? I brought up what Dad said because that’s what some think rebranding is—an organization’s effort to erase or to gloss over the imperfections in its history. A new logo is the deliverable that the organization puts on its new materials, but really, isn’t rebranding about finding ways to stay relevant in a quickly developing society? I’d say that’s right in some cases. Restaurants, tech companies and large groups revamp themselves all the time to attract modern audiences. Relevance is always a concern, but while companies try to cater to their customers, the ASSU and SSE are using rebranding as an opportunity to assess our values so that we can more effectively accomplish our goals.
In my opinion, our most important organizational goal is transparency, so that’s what I’d like to discuss here. In an age where technology companies are being questioned not only on their privacy policies but also on their data-mining practices, transparency is on almost everyone’s minds. While the ASSU and SSE do not engage in mining data, we are still responsible for not being as upfront with everyone as we should be. Our primary goal is—and always should be—to help transform the University into a more inclusive community for Stanford students by emphasizing transparency, accessibility, equity, advocacy and growth; these are our core values, so all decisions should be made keeping them in mind. I hope that the rebranding we’ve gone through will reaffirm our position as representatives of the student body and as the bridge between students and the university. No matter what interpersonal conflicts arise, I hope we keep these priorities and values straight, and that we uphold them first and foremost.
We have definitely made some good progress this past year. As an example, the executive branch rolled out the first holiday break airport shuttles, which have been incredibly beneficial, both for students and the environment. The Graduate Student Council (GSC) has also collaborated with Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) to make the free food pantries happen, which has helped solve the food shortage issue for graduate students. The Undergraduate Senate has worked hard to produce a thoroughly researched, well-written memo outlining the steps the University needs to take in order to reduce the amount of sexual violence on campus. And of course, SSE continues to provide experiential job opportunities to students, regardless of background or experience. We are glad to continue working toward these goals and will continue to do so for many years to come. Of course we are not perfect, and we would love to hear from you so that we can work to solve the problems most important to you.
All that being said, the ASSU and SSE have wonderful new logos, and some fun events to kick off this new period in our history. We’ll officially reveal the logos on Monday, January 27—a day that signifies a step forward and a transition to our new brand identity. Tuesday, January 28, we’re having an open house where you can meet some of the current ASSU legislative, judicial and executive branch members who have been making decisions that affect the lives of students; if you’re planning on running for an elected position, we encourage you to mingle with us in Nitery 209. The next day, we’re raffling off merch and giving away Jamba Juice, so come chill with us at the Student Store if you have time; there’s nothing like some smoothies and swag! On Freebie Friday, we’re handing out exclusive swag, and participants can be entered into a grand prize drawing for a bunch of cool stuff, including a longboard, gift cards and more. For more specific details including times and locations, come take a look at our Facebook page and/or the flyers around campus. You can find our Facebook page here.
As a final note, I’d like to reiterate that while this week is all about free stuff, food, and fun, it’s really about celebrating ASSU and SSE history as we move forward. We are here to serve all students on campus, and to ensure that Stanford is an enjoyable environment for all students. We’re always striving to emphasize transparency, accessibility, advocacy, equity, and growth in the work that we do. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve in demonstrating these values, we welcome your feedback at [email protected] with any questions, comments or suggestions.
—Cricket X. Bidleman ’21, ASSU Director of Communications.