I Call Shenanigans: ASSU’s Proposed Preferential Treatment of “Entrepreneurs”

Posted by at 12:17AM

He didn't make the cut.

I’m calling the ASSU out on an abuse of student health and wellness.  Earlier this week while reading the ASSU blueprints, I almost choked laughing when I read part of the ASSU Exec’s Entrepreneurship Team’s (excuse me, E2.0′s) blueprint.

Matter of factly, one of the primary initiatives is listed as:

Identification of qualified “student entrepreneurs” on campus — awarded a special status (comparable to athletes) that provides them increased academic support / accommodation — e.g. excused absences when travelling to business-relevant events, reduced units”

See page 4 of the “E2.0″ blueprint here.

This measure is embarrassingly symptomatic of the entitlement generation and displays an utter lack of responsibility on the part of those whom it would benefit.  Life requires prioritization and trade-offs.  If you prioritize your start-up over your classes, the choice is yours, but so is the responsibility for your actions.  However, if that is indeed your goal, don’t take up highly-desirable space at Stanford.  Pursue your start-up dreams to your heart’s content – stop letting that darned world-renowned university you attend get in your way – and let others enjoy the world-class education you are forsaking.

To a certain extent, this measure is, quite frankly, insulting.  With over 80% of students on financial aid, many of us are simultaneously working jobs just to pay for college, let alone launch the next Facebook app for social networking with Andean chihuahuas on the topic of locally-grown, fair-trade eggplant.  The hundreds of Stanford students on work-study programs don’t rely upon exemptions and exceptions: they take responsibility for their own time  management and make choices as necessary.

Slippery Slope

The creation of an elite “entrepreneurial” class flies in the face of any claim to equality among the student body.  (Sidenote: what “qualifies” a student as sufficiently entrepreneurial?)  Why should entrepreneurs alone be exalted to a unique social class?  How are entrepreneurs any more important than the myriad political activists, community service volunteers, and sustainability advocates on campus?  By extending the ASSU’s social classification to various “qualified” groups, the idea becomes simply untenable.  Give all these groups special exemptions and it just gets ridiculous.  Why would professors bother holding classes at all?!

Leave the Athletes Out of It

Yahoo! co-founders return to their alma mater to cheer on Stanford basketball

Beyond the basic objections above, the mere comparison to student-athletes is laughable.  For the majority of student-athletes, athletic practices, events, and responsibilities are a required commitment, and for many of the recruited, it is a mandatory part of their required ticket to be here.  I know many Varsity athletes in the engineering disciplines and, believe me, given the choice between sports obligations and invaluable class time, they’d definitely be in class if they could.  Besides the mandatory nature of the athletic commitment, Stanford student-athletes are part of a revenue-generating process that is financially tied to the economic status of our university.  How can the so-called “bubble boys” contribute to our university, or even its campus or atmosphere, if they’re so busy that they can’t be bothered to go to class?

Be True to Your School

Look, I’m an engineer, and I staunchly support the entrepreneurial spirit we so value here at Stanford.  As much as I roll my eyes at the glib branding of “E2.0″ and the like, I greatly admire those who’ve risen to the top via innovation and forward-thinking.  But it’s important to notice that none of the Stanford tech heroes – the Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo!, and Google founders, etc. – dropped out of school to further their ultimate goals.  Like Bill and Dave, Jerry and David, Larry and Sergey, I am first and foremost a Stanford student, and darned proud of it.

Go Cardinal.

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5 Responses to “I Call Shenanigans: ASSU’s Proposed Preferential Treatment of “Entrepreneurs””

  1. Adi says:

    Thumbs up!

  2. Andy says:

    absolutely on all points kristi.

  3. Buggy says:

    Two thumbs up! This only further proves that the ASSU has no idea what the actual student population wants. They create a vision for themselves and believe it’s the absolute right way to go. These guys are after their own gains, figuring out ways to make themselves sound legit. I’m an engineer, entrepreneur, student group leader and I attend national conferences during the academic year, and I do it all without “increased academic support / accomodations”. This is how real passion shows, and not by asking for others, especially our university, to fill in your weak spots. Kristi, you are absolutely right in calling the “E.20″ movement an insult to what true Stanford students can achieve.

  4. Supporter on transparency list says:

    I believe the initiative Kristi mentioned is no longer being pursued. In their meeting with President Hennessey, he felt they should focus on the E-dorm idea.

  5. Nick says:

    This article is right on. Further, we must remember the source of these funds. I think in general ASSU funds should be limited to public benefit or directly voted on through processes such as the special fees system. However, some of the ideas proposed fly in the face of this principle. For example, “Legal advisory for Stanford entrepreneurs” sounds more like a business subsidy than something that is going toward the good of the Stanford community. This is more the scope of something like the CDC than a student government. I am distressed that the goal of a supposedly representative government seems to be helping certain individuals at the cost of others. A community dorm or “Espace” sounds like something most people can access, but tools such as targeted emails towards incoming students sounds more like a Goldman Sachs recruitment program than a genuine approach to really integrate the Stanford community as a whole into the process. Not to say that entrepreneurship shouldn’t be encouraged, but the responsibilities, limits, and overall purpose of a student government must not be left behind in the process.

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