Editorial Board: Our top picks for ASSU Exec, Undergraduate Senate

April 6, 2018, 11:24 a.m.

Each spring, The Daily’s Editorial Board interviews and endorses candidates for ASSU Undergraduate Senate and Executive. Here are the students who we believe most deserve your vote.


Bennett Lewis (EDER LOMELI/The Stanford Daily)
Bennett Lewis (EDER LOMELI/The Stanford Daily)

Bennett Lewis

Class of 2021

Major: Undeclared, interested in Mechanical Engineering

Platform highlights: Extending Caltrain subsidies to undergraduates; improving campus sustainability — for example, through use of terra cotta solar tiles to address aesthetic concerns; pushing for longer-term mental health care on campus.

Why we picked him: Bennett displayed competence about the issues and methods for achieving his goals. As part of the senate associate program, he’s worked with the advocacy committee and has an understanding of how to get things done in the senate. His plan to make resources more accessible, such as telling students how to form new student groups and sending update emails to the student body, show a true commitment to transparency. His main foci on sustainability and improving CAPS are promising, and his idea to subsidize the Caltrain for undergraduates is fresh and could encourage all types of students to get off campus.


Gabe Rosen (EDER LOMELI/The Stanford Daily)
Gabe Rosen (EDER LOMELI/The Stanford Daily)

Gabe Rosen

Class of 2019

Major: Public Policy, Economics

Platform highlights: Spearheading course fee reductions; pushing for the development of a Disabilities Studies program at Stanford; calling on Stanford to implement the AAU Campus Climate Survey; reworking ASSU procedures to encourage joint efforts.

Why we picked him: Gabe is running for a third term — a rarity in ASSU elections. He has a history of making campaign promises and carrying them out (you can see the extensive list of resolutions and reforms that he has initiated or supported in his platform). In our endorsement interview, Gabe emphasized his resolve to bring his institutional knowledge to the Senate; he’s someone who understands how Senate works and what Senate can do for us. He’s also focused on making Senate better. As appropriations chair, he implemented funding reform and is putting together a class to help new Senators transition, recognizing that a more efficient Senate is a more effective Senate.


Leya Elias (EDER LOMELI/The Stanford Daily)
Leya Elias (Courtesy of the Elections Commission)

Leya Elias

Class of 2021

Major: Undeclared, interested in Economics and Political Science

Platform highlights: Strengthening funding for and promotion of 5-SURE; advocating for diversity of many kinds within resource centers like CAPS; pushing for a full community center for first-gen and low-income students, one that doesn’t share space.

Why we picked her: Leya brings several concrete, achievable goals to her campaign for Senate — she understands the limitations on what senators can do in their short terms and has picked issues where The Daily believes she can have a real impact. She is committed to advancing diversity at Stanford and attentive to issues that crop up in students’ daily lives, from concerns about safety at night to the way kicking students out of the DGen space for other groups’ bookings affects the center’s effectiveness as a home for FLI students. We’re confident Leya will be ambitious but realistic in her efforts on Senate.


Melissa Loupeda (Courtesy of the Elections Commission)

Melissa Loupeda

Class of 2021

Major: Undeclared, interested in Public Policy

Platform highlights: Publicizing financial support for class materials; phasing out red Solo cups on campus for sustainability; growing a new initiative to address insecurity about math abilities among freshmen.

Why we picked her: In her interview, Melissa demonstrated impressive knowledge about the abilities and limitations of the Senate, as well as current efforts she hopes to sustain. Her platform crystallizes lofty goals into concrete initiatives — to promote inclusivity, for example, she proposes working with professors to include information about financial support for course materials in the syllabi. In her first quarters at Stanford, she has already launched a workshop through the math department to help freshmen approach math, helping to bridge the opportunity and confidence gap for underrepresented groups in STEM. As a senator, Melissa will bring continuity and a commitment to action, qualities that will be valued especially highly in what is likely to be a young Senate.


Michal Skreta (EDER LOMELI/The Stanford Daily)

Michal Skreta

Class of 2021

Major: Undeclared, interested in Economics and Political Science

Platform highlights: Streamlining the funding process for student groups; promoting need-blind financial aid for international students; abolishing printing fees.

Why we picked him: Michal may be a freshman, but we were impressed with his experience and drive. As part of the senate associate program, he has worked with current senator Chapman Caddell on initiatives to increase transparency in investments. He also feels strongly about maintaining communication with administration as well as increasing awareness about Senate activities and ASSU at large. As an international student, he brings personal insight to Senate, especially regarding the hot topic of need-blind admissions and aid for international students, while having the determination necessary to follow through. A favorite quote on creating change: “We need to constantly contact administrators until they won’t want to hear about it anymore … they need to see the people behind it.”



Shanta Katipamula and Rosie Nelson (Courtesy of Kojo Worai Osei)

Shanta Katipamula / Rosie Nelson

Class of 2019 / Ph.D. candidate

Majors: Civil and Environmental Engineering / Sociology of Education and Higher Education

Platform highlights: Promoting diversity and inclusion; increasing access to affordable housing; improving student wellness; examining policies around sexual assault; helping undergraduate and graduate students work together (see their website, www.shanta-rosie.com, for specifics).

Why we picked them: Shanta and Rosie are both veterans of student government at Stanford. They have experience pursuing realistic projects with tangible impact, and they know how to work with parties throughout the University, from student groups to administrators, to get things done. As Chair of the 18th Undergraduate Senate, Shanta led the successful effort to bring the Callisto app for confidential sexual violence reporting to Stanford; Rosie has worked to increase representation for student parents as co-chair of the Graduate Student Council. Their knowledge of the issues laid out in their platform, as well as the nitty-gritties of running a body like the ASSU, was clear as they discussed their priorities for Exec’s first month, which ranged from a focus on continuity through transition meetings to moving swiftly on Title IX discussions as the Provost looks to wrap up her review of current University policy by August.

What intrigued us most about Shanta and Rosie’s slate, though, was their union of undergraduate and graduate student perspectives. Too often, they noted, students forget that graduate students and the Graduate Student Council that represents them are part of the ASSU; meanwhile, the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate Student Council don’t always coordinate effectively on issues to maximize their voice and impact. Shanta and Rosie will bring a much-needed understanding of the issues affecting both undergraduate and graduate students and create new communication between currently disconnected arms of student government.

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 Hannah Knowles '19, Executive Editor Fangzhou Liu '19, Managing Editor of Opinions Regan Pecjak '18, Senior Staff Writer Samantha Wong '18 and Opinions columnist and Managing Editor of Graphics Josh Wagner '20. To contact the Editorial Board, submit an op-ed (limited to 700 words) at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor (limited to 500 words) at [email protected]

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