Displaying poise, passion and a platform as inspiring as the diverse backgrounds from which they hail, Tenzin Seldon ‘12 and Joe Vasquez ‘11 have earned The Stanford Daily Editorial Board’s endorsement for ASSU Executive. They represent a wide swath of campus and blend insider experience with newcomer enthusiasm; they are also well attuned to the unique levers at the command of the Executive position and demonstrated their resolve to broker compromise between students, faculty and administrators.
The Board drew three conclusions from the interview process. First, Tenzin-Vasquez hold the greatest promise to broaden the appeal of the ASSU and advocate effectively for students at all levels of University governance. Second, despite ASSU Vice President and Presidential candidate Michael Cruz’s extensive ASSU experience, his underwhelming responses to basic inquiries from this Board raised serious doubts about his ability to fully leverage the influence of the Executive. Third, and most importantly, both Tenzin-Vasquez and Cruz & Macgregor-Dennis would benefit from adopting the strengths of the other slate, a testament to the caliber of all candidates and to the educational potential of election season.
Tenzin-Vasquez shone when discussing their central platform points of diversity, transparency, wellness and mental health. While we cautioned voters yesterday to push candidates to provide well-conceived implementation plans for popular platitudes, Tenzin-Vasquez proactively offered details. They intend to broaden class selection offerings on mental health, pursue concerted awareness campaigns for the Acts of Intolerance Protocol and physically interface with their constituency house by house, door by door, to engage a general audience on traditionally niche issues.
This last point resonated particularly with the Board, which found compelling the assertion that a Town Hall on an issue like ROTC reinstatement only mobilizes students already invested in the issue. The dedication implicit in Tenzin-Vasquez’s promise to educate and galvanize uninvolved students to participate in the campus dialogue was backed by their strong record of community involvement both through and independently of the ASSU. Vasquez, a versatile student group leader, demonstrated his ability to merge disparate communities just earlier that day by spearheading the Kappa Sigma Field of Dreams event for disabled children. Seldon, the ASSU Diversity Chair, has proven her ability to sample a wide assortment of student views on diversity and intolerance and translate that data into tangible progress through collaboration with the Administration.
The Board felt that Tenzin-Vasquez truly appreciated the unique role that the Executive plays as the preferred representative of the student body to the Administration. The candidates repeatedly cited constructive relationships and compromise with administrators as the most powerful aspects of the ASSU executive arsenal, allowing the Exec to transcend the limited scope of influence that ASSU Senators and other students have on student life and academic policy. While Stewart Macgregor-Dennis ’13 recited a laundry list of six potential levers that the Exec had at its disposal, none invoked the powerful stature that successful Execs have parlayed into advocacy on University finances, academic policy and student life.
The Board was gravely disappointed by the interview performance of Michael Cruz ‘12, who appeared to defer to Macgregor-Dennis on most issues, did not correctly match his statements to the platform points listed on the slate’s website, and gave indirect answers to straightforward questions. His personal growth in the ASSU — while admirable — is not an appropriate response to an inquiry about the policy levers at the Exec’s disposal under all but the most strained interpretation of the question. When the next clash between the best interests of students and administrators arises, and the time comes for the ASSU President to confront the University bureaucracy — as has been the case every year in recent memory — this Board is not confident that Cruz would acquit himself and his constituents well. Similarly, his bland promises to extend the ASSU’s reach ring hollow considering students’ persistent disinterest in the ASSU over his three years of service.
Macgregor-Dennis dominated the interview, giving several well thought out and technically impressive initiatives. However, he could not answer why fundamentally the Executive position was the right position for him to trot out his iPhone apps and web analytic data analysis. As ASSU Technology Chair, Macgregor-Dennis would have similar latitude to innovate and build the ASSU’s tech presence; this Board urges him to consider that alternative, noting that his recommendations are strong. On balance, however, Macgregor-Dennis alone cannot run the Executive office.
The position of Exec should be filled by visionary individuals who represent the full range of Stanford’s talent and will broaden the appeal of the ASSU to the alarmingly large apathetic segment of students and advocate on behalf of students with passion. Tenzin and Vasquez, a Tibetan refugee and a first-generation, low-income service advocate, meet all of these requirements. They exude natural leadership and represent distinct communities. Their platform would benefit from the detail of the prolific Cruz & Macgregor-Dennis platform, but we are fully confident that Tenzin-Vasquez will choose an experienced cabinet. This Board urges you to vote for Tenzin-Vasquez to guarantee strong ASSU leadership.
The Stanford Daily Editorial Board is chaired by Adam Creasman ’11. He is joined by seven members: Stephanie Garrett ’12, Nick Baldo ‘12, Ada Kulenovic ’11, Cyrus Navabi ’11, Varun Sivaram ’11, Tiq Chapa ’11 and Andy Parker ’11. Members Chapa and Parker recused themselves from the Board’s endorsement process because of their affiliations with the endorsements of Students of Color Coalition and Stanford Democrats, respectively.