ASSU executive: Guzman and Mahoney

By and
April 5, 2010, 1:04 a.m.

Juniors Austin Guzman and Patrick Mahoney are perhaps the least-familiar names in this year’s executive race — even the satirical Stanford Chaparral slate appeared in White Plaza on Friday for the campaign kick-off, while Guzman and Mahoney did not.

But don’t count them out yet, they said Sunday.

ASSU executive: Guzman and Mahoney
Austin Guzman (left) and Patrick Mahoney. (ELIZABETH TITUS/The Stanford Daily)

“Our strength is that we’re not like the ASSU,” Mahoney said. “Most of our experience in this campaign is through the VSO problem…we think we’re probably ahead of that debate.”

He was referring to the struggle, he said, of friends in student groups in the sustainability community seeking funding this year. That personal experience, Mahoney said, is part of what makes him and Guzman well suited for the ASSU’s top two jobs.

Guzman, 21, is an economics major and president of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. A former rower and a member of the women’s basketball practice team, he spent fall quarter in Santiago and now lives in Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

Mahoney, 21, is a political science major and, like his running mate, is a Theta Delt member living in EBF. He was also involved in last year’s sustainable fashion show.

They said the ASSU’s perceived ineffectiveness spurred them to run.

“Everything I could read about ASSU, the problem was, people were more interested in discussing things than in fixing what we saw as collective action problems,” Mahoney said. “Our plan is that the ASSU should be more like a union to solve problems that no one individual can solve on their own.”

Guzman said he saw too many similarities in the platforms of past executive slates. If elected, the two would post short weekly YouTube videos about their work that would be more engaging than the videos executives and senators have posted this year, Guzman said.

“You’ve seen the videos on the Web site, right?” Mahoney asked rhetorically.

“You shouldn’t have to be in the ASSU to be able to access [the ASSU],” he added.

About interacting with the ASSU legislative bodies, Guzman and Mahoney focused on the Undergraduate Senate.

“The Senate diffuses power,” Mahoney said. “There are a handful of senators, and each one has their own interests, endorsements, sponsorships and kind of electoral kind of faction they represent. Let’s be honest.”

“The executive, as we envision it, should be kind of a funnel for the entire student body,” he added.

The cabinet should be focused on coordinating between VSOs, they continued. Their sustainability coordinator, for example, would seek to consolidate efforts among sustainability-related groups and advocate for funding for those groups before the Senate Appropriations Committee and other funding sources.

If elected, the two would also create a shared contact list among similar student groups and start funding workshops organized by VSO topic.

All their suggestions were in the spirit of a more rational approach to student groups, they said.

“Some student groups deserve more than other student groups,” Mahoney said. “To pass a 10 percent rule under the rubric of fiscal conservatism is — I mean, I guess the heart’s in the right place, but it’s bass-ackwards.”

By “10 percent rule,” the two meant the policy made by the Appropriations Committee this year requiring that special fees groups seeking a budget increase beyond inflation gather petition signatures to get on the ballot.

Guzman said that addressing theft would also be on his agenda if elected.

He said his computer was stolen last year from his dorm room and he expressed frustration with the incident. The two suggested that the Stanford Department of Public Safety is too focused on enforcing underage drinking laws and not on recovering stolen laptops, an issue they said “no one is doing anything about.”

“I’m not in a position where if my laptop gets stolen I say, ‘Oh, you know, I’ll just buy another one,’” Mahoney said. “It’s hurtful, in a way, that the best the ASSU can think of as far as collective action problems is plastic bubbles in the Wellness Room. I can’t stop a robber on my own.”

They went further, saying they would lead a “bidding war” for laptop-tracking technology to distribute to Stanford’s 14,000 students.

Posters will go up early this week, Guzman and Mahoney said. They have set up a blog, which was empty as of Sunday evening.

“Our idea is to have posters, which are kind of like the hook. The posters are gonna draw people in to look at the blog and then the blog has very specific detailed recommendations, almost to the point you could take those recommendations and turn them into legislation without anything else,” Mahoney said. “In a campaign dominated by vagaries and talking points, we’re trying to be as specific as possible as far as policy [and] action-oriented legislation.”

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