Daily editors tell new senators to ‘grow up’

Posted by at 5:52PM

The Stanford Daily today printed an editorial with the headline, “ASSU Senators: Grow Up.” Apparently, the editors thought better of that very provocative headline, and so the title of the online version appears as “A united ASSU Senate?”
The editors begin by saying that they were “disappointed to see divisive contention rear its ugly head again” in divided voting for Senate Chair and Deputy Chair (after such a close contest for ASSU Executive), but they then note that “beyond the hype of factionalism, senators who are endorsed by either [the Students of Color Coalition or the Review] expressed similar goals in their respective platforms.”
The disturbing thing about this editorial is that the Daily is chiefly responsible for creating — and maintaining — this “hype of factionalism.” The reporter assigned to cover the ASSU, Andrea Fuller, is widely rumored to dislike the Senate and apparently allows that to be reflected in her reporting.
Two possible examples of this stick out in my head. The first is the collapsing of the “divide” into two camps: SOCC-endorsed, and Review-endorsed. This is clearly inappropriate and was a characterization rejected by the Senators in the very 3-hour meeting the Daily loves to flaunt around as the epitome of breakdown in the Senate. The Review-endorsed candidates were endorsed also by the Stanford Democrats, the Band, the Queer-Straight Alliance, and others. Given the conservative Review’s poor reputation on campus, its endorsement was nothing to be proud of. In fact, Senator Patrick Cordova, in his appeal to become Senate Chair, declared himself a Democrat and said that he applied for the Review endorsement to get help with fliering. Ultimately, the only people who can accurately be lumped into any sort of “Review” category are the two Senators that actually write for and run the paper: Luukas Ilves and Stuart Baimel. A small contingent, indeed.
To its credit, the Daily has occasionally noted that the labels don’t really fit, but it still consistently falls back on those labels because of its desire to hype up the great “divide.”
A second example of the hyping is the double-printing and mis-attribution of a quote by Senator Jonathan Kass on the 3-hour meeting. When he asked to change his vote for Deputy Chair, the ensuing uncertainty of the situation led him to call the situation a “circus,” but the Daily reported him in its second printing of the quote as saying that the Senate was a “circus.” In the second issue where the quote was printed, it was set apart from the text and printed in large type.

So, who’s responsible for the hype that the Daily refers to disapprovingly? The Daily. Still, the editors note that the Senators were elected on similar platforms for change, and so it should let them get to work rather than harp on divisions, especially those that it is mis-characterizing. Has the Daily reported at all on the attempts by Senate Chair Priyanka Sharma and many others to build unity?
We have to give our new Senate some time to get itself organized — it always takes time to dole out committee assignments, and there is always contention. The real measure of the Senate’s performance comes next — when the committees actually get to work. Will the Daily be there for it?
It’d be nice if we could blame all of the negative hype on the Daily, because at least the Daily cares about its reputation. Unfortunately, the Review has also been hyping up the divisions as well, comfortable as it always has been as the purveyor of petty controversies. Its latest issue is emblazoned with the headline, “SOCC Loses Control of Senate,” while the editor’s note asks, “Time for Political Parties?”
Much to my dismay, the Daily has also begun asking that question with its latest editorial. The answer is, vehemently, “no.” First of all, there doesn’t seem to be support for forming political parties, outside of the offices of the Review. Second of all, no reasonable person would tolerate a party system divided along racial lines. If the Senators endorsed by the Students of Color Coalition act like a political party and make cynical maneuvers like one, then they should be rebuked by the student body. According to the Review, this election already was a rebuke to SOCC for their past cynical maneuverings. If this is the case (which is not to say that it is), then the political process is working.
In the end, there were many inspiring moments and points of unity in the campaign that cannot be lost amid the controversy of the Senate’s organizing steps. A look back through our ASSU category shows smiling faces and claims to support the arts, make Stanford more sustainable, expand Cardinal Dollars, bring back Course Guide, and reform the OSA.
Remember that?


One Response to “Daily editors tell new senators to ‘grow up’”

  1. Anthony Sanchez says:

    This is a nice post!
    News is not simply a mirror of reality but a selective representation guided by what is considered “newsworthiness.” The value of newsworthiness, unfortunately, creates an overabundance of news that emphasizes melodrama and conflict and is biased towards politics as a gritty spectator sport.


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