In terms of entertaining seasons, ASSU Election season ranks above Duck Season (No, Rabbit Season) but below the first season of Archer. Highlights include Senate who may not know what ASSU stands for, their WordArt-enhanced flyers that have default formatting and slogans that even Soulja Boy would find insipid, the rhetorical paroxysms of The Stanford Review over the wasteful spending of the Band/Daily/all ethnically-based organizations, students that wouldn’t be caught dead taking Intro to CSRE complaining about the racist power of the SOCC, the mystical return of middle school values that make apathy cool again, and best of all, the Obama-esque (both in rhetoric and attainability) promises of the executive slates with the knowledge that the winner has a 50% chance of ending up embroiled in a corruption scandal. Wow, I guess college does prepare you for the real world.
2011 is no exception. This is my guide to: The 2011 Elections for the ASSU, Which Totally Doesn’t Do Anything At All, Right Guys?
The only election that actually matters, where two bold, fresh, diverse, attractive, undergraduates that you sort of know craft a catchy tagline that represents an inspiring vision for how to make this beautiful school into an even more efficient dream machine. Also the Chappy is there, for heckling purposes.
Modeling their campaign after the technological movement that brought the world Wikipedia, LOLCats, and Tumblr, Michael Cruz and Stewart MacGregor-Dennis are here to give Stanford an update that will fix its bugs and make it run more smoothly or something. If I were to base my vote on website design alone, they would win hands down, and I appreciate that they are running on their specific ideas instead of their inexact “vision.” It shows some real-world application of that brilliant CS-style thinking I hear so much about, even if their Action Plans carry that trademark corporate style of not actually saying anything. What’s more, I did not appreciate the indiscriminate mail-merged form letter in my inbox last night. Where did they get my email, because I don’t remember sending it to their campaign. That’s the disregard for privacy that holds a lot of people back from embracing the ethos of the tech industry, a.k.a. the intellectual foundation of their campaign. And the insulting lip service that they pay to the problem of the arts at Stanford (It just needs a better website!) is also not cool. They’re not doing too well on the issues that students really care about either. Who, pray tell, is clamoring for a healthier Late Nite or a soberer campus? At the same time, I’m a big fan of their ideas about how to approach the problem of sexual assault on campus. Their level of understanding and willingness to engage a usually ignored problem really surprised me.
Trading professional website design for an orgy of periods and a background reminiscent of a 9th-grader’s MySpace, Tenzin Seldon and Joe Vasquez showcase a campaign that embodies the ASSU-style politics we’ve all come to know and tolerate. Their platform is much narrower and their buzzwords come from the standard politician word bank and doesn’t entirely make sense. Posting the Acts of Intolerance Protocol more places around campus and treating an administrative subcommittee as the authority on diversity will not help solve any of those feelings of a fractured campus that I hear are such a problem. Academic advising is a system that almost no one can fix, and the paragraph on transparency and accessibility is opaque. The specifics of their platform aren’t that important though, because they’re selling themselves instead of their vision, and they are caring people, as evidenced by all their community service credentials. (It’s a shame that we’re not a campus that believes in negative campaigning. Some ad hominem attacks against Vasquez about Kappa Sig’s “dangerous alcohol culture” would be great political theater.)
Cruz and MacGregor-Dennis’s ideas sound good and bold, but their platforms and rhetoric stridently marginalize the humanities majors on campus (Did you know you guys can get a job too? You just need at more booths during NSO! And Cruz is a history major too. That’s breaking some sort of code right there). Even more problematic though, is that treating Stanford like a buggy computer program that just needs the right algorithm ignores the fact that the ASSU is run by people. What is their plan when all their brilliant ideas fall by the wayside because of another debate about t-shirts? Tenzin and Vasquez’s platforms may lack specifics, but Stanford’s not that complicated. At this level of politics, you can’t create a personal brand entirely out of thin air, and I believe that they will be more successful at working through crises and making everyone in the ASSU feel valued. I don’t really expect either slate to get that much done anyway, but I prefer my bureaucracy with minimal levels of drama. Vote Tenzin/Vasquez.
End Part 1. Stay tuned for BITSCCV: Y2ARC Part 2: THE REFERENDUMING!