ASSU Elections Recap

April 15, 2013, 11:23 p.m.

This year’s elections results are in – and they look promising for the cause of student freedom.

As I mentioned in my column two weeks ago, a group of concerned students and alums recently got together and founded the Stanford Student Freedom Project (SSFP) – an organization dedicated to preserving student residential independence and protecting campus workers. We endorsed candidates for this year’s ASSU elections who we felt would best exemplify SSFP’s core mission: improving the quality, frequency and transparency of communication between ResEd/R&DE administrators and students; strengthening student voices in decisions that concern residential life; protecting the jobs and wages of the residential and dining workers who make students’ experience here what it is; and defending student residential independence. By endorsing these candidates, we hoped that we could help avoid future catastrophes like this year’s battle over Suites Dining.

While the numbers aren’t by any means definitive and the chains of causation are difficult to tease out, I think I can say with reasonable confidence that the cause of student freedom made a positive (if small) difference in this year’s election. Here are the numbers; I’m interested to see if my readers agree.

All six Undergraduate Senate candidates endorsed by SSFP – Natasha Patel, Ilya Mouzykantskii, Ben Holston, Ryan Matsumoto, Abby Dow and Hisham Al-Falih – won election, and SSFP-endorsed candidates took four of the top six spots. The Junior and Senior Class President Slates endorsed by SSFP – Take15 and SenYOUR Time – were also elected. And while SSFP endorsed both serious Executive slates in this year’s race – believing firmly that both sets of candidates would do an excellent job representing student interests and concerns – the Ashton-Gallagher victory brings especial encouragement to a coalition energized by Billy’s fiery writing in the service of student independence.

It’s more than possible, of course, that these results were determined by factors far beyond, and more important than, SSFP. Four of SSFP’s six Senate endorsees, for instance, also received the powerful SOCC stamp of approval. And our endorsement panel felt deeply that the candidates we endorsed were capable and effective leaders in their own right; in other words, that they would have succeeded in their campaigns for office whether or not they received the SSFP endorsement (or any endorsements!).

Nonetheless, two of SSFP’s Senate candidates – Ilya, a major force behind the Suites protest in White Plaza, and Ben, a sophomore currently living in Suites whose campaign was inspired by the potential end of Suites Dining (and who came in sixth among all Senate candidates) – were elected without the SOCC endorsement. And Ilya, in fact, received no other endorsements at all.

Whatever the reasons for this year’s results, though, the staff at SSFP is tremendously encouraged to see so many (we believe) capable candidates elected to office. As the conclusion of a negotiated compromise with ResEd nears – and looks very positive – the ASSU election results lend added confidence to our belief that next year will be a banner year for the defense of the little things on campus. Little things like running your own eating environment, fostering close connections with chefs and workers, managing a piece of your own board bill payment, continuing the weird and quirky traditions that set Stanford apart and having a say in the decisions that affect you as students. I’m only sad that I won’t be here to see it.

Thanks for voting, Stanford!

Share your election thoughts and reflections with Miles at [email protected].

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