Editorial Board Senate endorsements

Opinion by Editorial Board
April 3, 2016, 11:59 p.m.

We are excited to announce ten exceptional candidates that The Editorial Board has chosen to endorse. Please see below for the reasoning behind our choices.

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Mylan Gray ’19

The Editorial Board was impressed with Mylan — his realistic understanding of what the Senate can and cannot do, as well as his understanding of the Senate’s most important job (funding student groups), all point to the fact that Mylan has done his homework, an impressive feat for someone that’s been on campus for less than a year. Mylan has already developed relationships with several student communities, as well as certain members of the Board of Trustees. The Editorial Board believes that these relationships will allow him to effectively support diversity programming, both from an appropriations perspective and as a representative to administrators.


Elliot Kaufman ’18

Elliot might not be your traditional Senate candidate — he believes in a Senate that “stays out of the lives of students,” a Ron Paul approach to student government not typically found in most candidates. The Editorial Board believes strongly in the free exchange of ideas and we think Elliot’s presence on the Senate will ensure that the legislative body is home to lively debate.

The Editorial Board also supports Elliot’s desire for ASSU electoral reform — he suggests that the Senate could be a more representative body in a variety of ways, arguing that its slate-heavy voting system means that certain groups of students are underrepresented.


Jayaram Ravi ’19

Jayaram’s intellectual humility and self-awareness impressed the Editorial Board. It’s a trait that not many candidates, much less freshmen candidates, possess.

We think Jayaram’s desire for the Senate to be a vessel of conversation (something we anticipate him working on with fellow candidate Ali Sarilgan), and his realistic understanding of how to the Senate can best achieve meaningful conversation (through funding and microgrants), will make him an important member of the 18th Undergraduate Senate.

We also envision Jayaram pushing the University towards reexamining the report produced by the Mental Health Task Force in 2008 and working with the University to ensure student mental health concerns are met.


Ali Sarilgan ’19

The Editorial Board liked Ali for two reasons: his desire to push the administration on increasing financial aid of international students, and his perspective on the importance of conversation and the free exchange of ideas. A key theme in our endorsements this year was our desire to find candidates that would improve links between the different communities on campus. Coming from Turkey — a country on the brink of civil war — Ali is uniquely qualified to promote conversation and dialogue, having already done that type of work in Turkey prior to coming to Stanford. Ali believes that Senate’s main job shouldn’t be to politicize itself, but rather to be the main medium through which the Stanford community can discuss political topics. And Ali has already demonstrated commitment to his own word — he has already met with several different groups to better understand their perspectives, and the Editorial Board believes he can be a key facilitator in discussion on campus next year.

Editor’s Note: Ali is a columnist for the Daily’s Opinions Section.


Matthew Cohen ’18

The Daily does not give blanket endorsements to incumbents, or to Senators it endorsed last year. But as our endorsements show, the Editorial Board is focused on finding candidates who can make a difference. Matthew’s experience as a Senator running for re-election has given him an impressive understanding of how the ASSU and the Senate operate and how to get things done. As a Senator, he has a strong track record of encouraging civil discourse and debate. He was one of the few students to point out that certain academic disciplines are extremely underrepresented, particularly in the STEM fields. Finally, he was very frank in his interview about where he needs to improve, and he’s very knowledgeable about where the Senate can improve as well.

Re-election campaigns are a rare occurrence in a legislative body that is more known for its rapid turnover than its continuity, and we are excited that Matthew chose to throw his hat in the ring again and give the Senate some much-needed institutional memory.

Editor’s Note: Matthew serves as a desk editor for the Daily’s Opinions Section. He has no affiliation with the Editorial Board.


Junwon Park ’19

Current ASSU Executives John Lancaster-Finley ’16 and Brandon Hill ’16 have done a good job of using email and social media to reach out to the undergraduate student body. But the Senate has not been as open to the general public. Junwon has many concrete ideas to improve the Senate’s communication with student and allow them to have a greater role in shaping the Senate debate, such as his proposal to require the Senate to consider the key issues of the day, as determined by a student vote. We were also impressed with how, like some of the other candidates we are endorsing this year, he came to our interview having already reached out to other student groups and was ready to talk cogently and insightfully about many of their key issues and concerns. Finally, as an international student like Ali, Junwon will be able to better represent a growing portion of the student body — one that has traditionally punched below its weight on the campus political scene.


Hattie Gawande ’18

Hattie approaches her reelection campaign with a year’s experience as a Senator. She not only gained a strong understanding of how the Senate functions, but also worked closely on sexual assault initiatives that address the understaffing and underfunding of the SARA office. In addition, she and fellow senator Matthew Cohen met with Provost Etchemendy to encourage the university to release additional data pertaining to sexual assault or re-administer the controversial survey taken a few months ago.

Out of all the candidates the Editorial Board interviewed, Hattie exhibited the deepest understanding of how the ASSU actually works: in particular, the intricacies of the programming and special fees budgets. She also had the most detailed plans for how the ASSU can alleviate the strain these two budgets face, which would address the needs of student groups who seek funding from the ASSU.


Jasmin Espinosa ’18

Jasmin’s experience with the Senate speaks for itself. As a Senator, she has proven a conscientious, passionate community representative with a sincere interest in ensuring everyone has an equal voice at the table. She highlighted the importance of the Senate being “a magnifier of student voices” rather than dictators. Her personal understanding of the student experience at the intersection of many identities, and her incorporation of that understanding in her representation of other communities, is one we believe many could benefit from.

We would look forward to seeing how Jasmin uses her existing experience to build a platform for communal voices to be uplifted through town halls or forums and broader discussions that we hope will contribute significantly to positive change on campus.


Carson Smith ’19

Carson demonstrates an impressive passion for community development and betterment, stating that her priority above simply being in the Senate is finding the place on campus where she can most effectively enact positive change. In addition to being extremely aware of issues on campus, and the functionality and limitations of the Senate, she brings an important set of priorities, striving to “represent areas of Stanford that have been overlooked in the past.” This goal includes speaking on behalf of underrepresented communities and working towards resolving longstanding issues with institutional memory in the senate and restoring the faith of communities in its ability to act swiftly, effectively and consistently in its best interests. She also recognizes that, while the ASSU should have a role in encouraging dialogue, its real power lies in appropriations, and that reliable and well-managed funding is a necessity for a well-functioning community.

We look forward to seeing how Carson’s unique set of experiences, including being a member of the Muwekma community, enable her to contribute to the betterment of our broader campus, and believe she is exceptionally qualified to carry out that work as a member of next year’s Senate.


Editor’s Note: In light of Tuesday night’s Senate meeting, The Daily has decided to rescind its endorsement of current Senator and Senate candidate Gabriel Knight ’17. The role of a Senator is to represent the Stanford student body, and part of that job requires being able to navigate the different, and sometimes unfamiliar, experiences of various student communities. We appreciate Knight’s willingness to personally explain his intentions to the Board on Wednesday night. However, we feel that regardless of his intentions, the statements he made during the Senate meeting were insensitive and unacceptable for an elected representative of the Stanford community.

Editor-in-chief Andrew Vogeley had recused himself from the Editorial Board’s prior decision to endorse Knight, due to their friendship. He was also not involved in the Board’s decision to rescind Knight’s endorsement.

Contact The Editorial Board at opinions ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.


Editorials represent the views of The Stanford Daily, an independent newspaper serving Stanford and the surrounding community. The Daily's Editorial Board consists of President and Editor-in-Chief Victor Xu '17, Executive Editor Will Ferrer '18, Managing Editor of Opinions Michael Gioia '17, Desk Editor of Opinions Jimmy Stephens '17, Senior Staff Writer Kylie Jue '17, Senior Staff Writer Olivia Hummer '17 and Senior Staff Writer Andrew Vogeley '17. To contact the Editorial Board chair, submit an op-ed (limited to 700 words) or submit a letter to the editor (limited to 500 words) at [email protected]

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