Chris Middleton ’16 was appointed as the student government’s vice president by the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) VP Selection Committee on Tuesday. Middleton, a third-year law student, will go through the formal confirmation process later this week in the Undergraduate Senate and Graduate Student Council.
The VP Selection Committee consisted of representatives across ASSU bodies: Kari Barclay (fifth-year theater and performance studies Ph.D. student) and Will Paisley M.A. ’21 from the Graduate Student Council, Alain Perez ’23 from the Undergraduate Senate, Ayoade Balogun ’21 from the Executive Cabinet and Jianna So ’21 from the Executive core team.
As ASSU executive chief of staff, So has few doubts that Middleton’s candidacy will be approved this week.
“Since representatives from both bodies served on the Search committee, we are hopeful that the Search committee made decisions that align with each representatives’ respective bodies,” So wrote in a statement to The Daily.
Main selection criteria included “deep institutional knowledge, experience pursuing community-based advocacy, and an inspiring vision for the ASSU,” according to So.
She added that Middleton stood out among fellow candidates, including Christian Giadolor ’21 and Mea Anderson ’21, as a person who could bring a graduate perspective.
“As undergraduates, Vianna [Vo ’21, ASSU Executive President] and I learn about graduate students’ needs and how to best advocate for them through others, while Chris experiences those very issues directly,” So wrote.
Middleton’s involvement with the FLI Office and the Graduate Student Council (GSC) also played a role in the decision-making.
His GSC term was cut short by his resignation in February. In a statement to The Daily, he shared that the the driving force behind his decision to resign was the hurt he felt when FLI students hadn’t been given a fair opportunity to have their voices heard in the hiring process for the director of the FLI Office.
Middleton’s decision to seek the vice president role, in turn, was motivated by the unprecedented challenges his communities faced due to the pandemic.
“As someone that is Black, Queer, and FLI COVID-19 brought the loss of loved ones, uncertainty about housing, and concern for what the future held for my family and I,” Middleton wrote. “Far too many members of our community also had to grapple with these challenges. Challenges, despite how grave, have always been for me opportunities to not merely settle for returning to normal, but a moment to imagine something better.”
As a prospective VP, Middleton outlined his four areas of focus: mental health issues caused by social isolation, meeting students’ basic needs, working with the University to create policies to support Black community at Stanford and planning for future emergencies.
According to Middleton, his first steps will entail listening to the University community as well as learning about the work that has already been done by ASSU Executives.
Through participating in advocacy efforts at Stanford, he says he already has an understanding of “how the change you create as a student persists for generations.”
So added that like former ASSU Executive President Munira Alimire ’22, Middleton has a “clear vision of the change they want to see on this campus,” fighting for inclusion of student voices in the decision-making process and prioritizing well-being.
Middleton agreed with the sentiment, stating that he and Alimire both “understand the importance of this year where Stanford is reflecting on strengthening our commitment to diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and racial justice.”
“Our community’s focus on systemic injustice, especially anti-Black racism and how it shows up across our campus, has potential that must be realized,” Middleton said. “It is not my intent to diminish the task we have before us, and I know all of the change won’t come about in a year, but I am certain that Black members of the Stanford community will continue to do what we’ve done since we’ve been allowed to work, study, and teach here.”
“We will continue to make this place better for all of us.”