Though this has been, at times, a tumultuous year for the Stanford community, according to the current ASSU Executives Elizabeth Woodson ’15 and Logan Richard ’15, they will leave office confident that the work they did to address mental health issues, sexual assault and funding reform will have a lasting impact.
“I think there’s much more that could have been done, and there’s much more to be done, but I very much feel that there’s no more that personally we could have given,” Woodson said. “And that feels good.”
The Execs’ projects include helping create a residential counseling pilot program to go into effect later this year which pairs resident CAPS counselors with certain dorms.
In addition, next year’s student ID cards will have emergency phone numbers printed on them, and all freshmen will take guided tours of CAPS and Vaden. A new chart to guide students to the appropriate mental or sexual health resources is in the final stages of development.
Woodson also co-chaired the Task Force on Sexual Assault Policies and Practices, created by Provost John Etchemendy last year to reexamine Stanford’s approach and response to sexual assault, which released its findings on April 8.
Woodson and Richard made it their goal to work with University institutions like CAPS and the Provost’s office — not just within the ASSU — so their achievements would have an impact for years to come, regardless of changing ASSU leadership.
“I’m proud to say that…every one of the more tangible accomplishments…was made possible through an inclusive collaborative process, whether that’s directly reaching out to students or combining those efforts and working with administrators as well,” Richard said .
Richard and Woodson came into office without any prior ASSU experience, and their on-the-job education made for a steep learning curve.
“There’s so much we didn’t know, we made so many mistakes — every day, really,” Woodson said.
Still, they’ve accumulated some kernels of wisdom during their term to share with future execs.
“If you want to be effective, you must understand that everything has happened at least five times in the past already,” Woodson said. “And if you do not scour The Daily archives, you’re going to waste a lot of time and energy.”
There’s also an important difference between doing what feels gratifying and what is actually productive, Woodson noted.
“You’re never the smartest person in the room, and I think to really value the relationships that you build with those around you [is important],” Richard said.
“The Notorious B.I.G., rest in peace, said you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself and I’m indebted to [Elizabeth] because all of this was made possible through the love and support that we share for one another,” he added.
This year has been a particularly hard one for Stanford, the Execs agreed.
“It’s been quite a different year than past years have been in just the volume of issues of deep meaning and importance and also pain,” Woodson said.
The campus faced incidents of sexual assault and suicide. Divestment and funding reform led to sometimes heated dialogue.
“To see this all culminate within a year is a Stanford I’ve never seen, and a Stanford I really hope to never see again,” Richard said .
Yet based on the success she’s seen in smaller dialogues, Woodson is confident that an understanding of shared experience across differences is attainable.
She encourages students to acknowledge others’ fears, assume best intent and take the time to have the conversations that bridge differences.
“It takes time and dinners and talking and shaking hands…it’s time-intensive, it’s resource-intensive, it’s hard, it’s emotionally straining, so the constraints are a lot,” Woodson said. “But we feel that that is now what Stanford needs.”
Woodson and Richard will send a final report on their term in office to the entire student body within the next few days.
Contact Abigail Schott-Rosenfield at aschott ‘at’ stanford.edu.