L.E.A.D. Stanford potentially unopposed for ASSU exec after rival VP candidate drops out

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Former vice-presidential candidate Emily Nichols ’23 announced on Tuesday that she had dropped out of the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) executive race to focus on her mental health and instead continue her bid for re-election in the Undergraduate Senate, where she believes she can best advocate for the Stanford community. Nichols was a member of the Stanford Gladiators executive slate, alongside presidential candidate Micheal Brown ’22.

“Many of the things that occurred during this election were beyond me, and as a first-generation and low-income Black woman, my top priorities are practicing self-care, showing myself an abundance of love, and remaining centered and at peace to ensure I am able to perform my best academically and continue to show up for the Stanford community as a student advocate and member,” Nichols wrote in a statement to The Daily. 

Nichols’ withdrawal may mean the disqualification of her former slate, leaving L.E.A.D. Stanford — consisting of presidential candidate Christian Giadolor ’21 M.A. ’22 and vice-presidential candidate Cricket Bidleman ’21 M.A. ’22 — the only one in the race.

ASSU elections commissioner Edwin Ong ’23 said that the Elections Commission has already ruled that Nichols dropping out renders the Stanford Gladiators slate invalid. He explained that because the ASSU Constitution defines an executive slate as consisting of two candidates — one for president and the other for vice president — one person dropping out of the race effectively destroys the entire slate. 

Since the filing deadline and primary have already passed, Ong added, he is “not willing to just sub in a new slate or a new person, because that’s like changing people’s votes, and that’s not my job.” In the primary election, the Stanford Gladiators received 58% of the votes to the L.E.A.D. Stanford slate’s 42%, with both qualifying for a spot on the electoral ballot. 

According to Nichols, though, Brown plans to continue vying for a spot in ASSU exec.

“Our slate is taking time to rest and reassess how it might be able to continue in the election,” Brown wrote in a statement to The Daily.

If Brown wants to continue their candidacy, Ong said that there are two avenues through which they can attempt to do so. First, Brown could appeal the Elections Commission’s ruling to the Constitutional Council by arguing that it is unconstitutional. Or, Ong said, both legislative bodies — the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate Student Council — could overturn the ruling with a two-thirds majority in each body. 

But Ong said that in the view of the Elections Commission, “as it is right now, it is an uncontested election.” 

Nichols said that by still running for re-election to the Senate, she hopes to continue advocating for the student body. She added that she is excited to work with current and incoming senators and student leaders to carry out goals that she hoped to achieve as an ASSU executive, she wrote in the statement to The Daily.

“I ask for patience, understanding and empathy, and I am sending everyone overwhelming support and love,” she wrote. 

Bidleman, L.E.A.D. Stanford’s vice-presidential candidate, said that while she and running mate Giadolor support Brown’s choice to use either of the appeals processes, they do “not believe that these are viable options, as the precedent of slates dropping together has been well established.” 

Last spring, executive slate Martin Altenburg ’21 and Jennalei Louie ’21 withdrew from the race less than a week before the election, leaving Munira Alimire ’22 and Vianna Vo ’21 running unopposed. In September, Alimire stepped down as president. Vo, formerly vice president, became president and appointed third-year law student Chris Middleton ’16 as vice president.

L.E.A.D. Stanford admires and respects both Nichols and Brown and hopes to work with them in the future, Bidleman said. 

“Whether or not we are elected, there is always a place for passionate leaders like them in the ASSU,” Bidleman wrote in a statement to The Daily on behalf of the slate. “We hope they take the time and space they need to be safe and healthy throughout the pandemic.”

This article has been updated to include more details from Nichols’ statement to The Daily.

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Georgia Rosenberg is a Desk Editor for University News. Contact her at grosenberg 'at' stanforddaily.com!
Malaysia Atwater '23 is a desk editor in the News section from Aurora, Colorado. She enjoys dancing and re-watching Grey's Anatomy in her free time. Contact her at matwater 'at' stanforddaily.com.