Enough is Enough: the ASSU Titanic

Posted by at 2:46PM

This article reflects my opinions on the current student government and the upcoming ASSU election.

I’m pulling the Brett Favre clause and coming out of retirement on writing about the ASSU.

Why?  Because, at a certain point, misconduct and misrepresentation become so blatant that something must be done.  The current ASSU Vice President should not be reelected.  Period.  Freshmen: this is for context.  Upperclassmen: for the love of God and Stanford, please vote.

This is the man who brought you forty page life plans.  The man whose laundry list of goals included bringing the most entrepreneurial animal to campus.  Whose student government claimed the title of “world’s most effective and innovative student government” before the school year had begun.  Whose campaign of “transparency” produced emails that were cut off due to exceeding Gmail length limitations.

Those things were harmless and mostly just lame.  But recent discoveries have surpassed the realm of the pathetic and entered that which is morally dubious and downright reprehensible.

Coming soon to a Newsfeed near you. (photo credit: Sam D'Amico)

Consider the following:

If the ASSU President serves as the face of the Stanford student body, is this the face we want?

In the words of philosopher George Santayana, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  We will all live with the consequences of this year’s election for a year to come.  Make your voice heard and VOTE on April 12 at ballot.stanford.edu.  

To use your own words, Stewart:  #BOOM.


38 Responses to “Enough is Enough: the ASSU Titanic”

  1. Foryour Owngood says:

    I’m just going to leave this here:
    I think it just goes to show that the man and his ideas are entirely reducible to a mostly-nonsensical statistics-based robot…

  2. haydn says:

    why you so mad though?
    you didn’t say anything about his platform?

  3. AJ says:

    I mean, these videos corroborate 100% of your article, Kristi: http://socialcam.com/u/OKntql73 . Way to go to town!!!!

  4. undergradvoter says:

    Kristi, I really respect all your writings on TUSB and especially the ones regarding the ASSU because they help those of us who are out of the loop to see what’s really going on and who we should not be standing behind. I ask this with some reservations because I would never want to force you into the political spotlight but for someone who is not an intense follower of ASSU policy and debates but is firmly convinced that SMD is not the person we want leading our school, which executive slate would do the best to serve our needs concretely and ethically? Thanks again so much for your work, it’s a valuable asset to this campus.

  5. Chris ’06 says:

    I don’t know this fellow, but I’m not really clear on what is unethical about these actions.

    1. Did he spend ASSU money on his robot followers or weird internet promotions? If so, that seems pretty “reprehensible,” but if it’s his own money, who cares?

    2. The usage of Stanford’s copyrighted material hardly seems worthy of the outrage you accord it. It was clearly a mistake and he cut it out of the video. More than a few people I know have run into Stanford’s draconian copyright policies (our beloved Stanford Memes?), and I don’t think anyone would reasonably confuse this for an endorsement from Stanford.

    3. Seems to me 40 year life plans are pretty organized, and claiming you are effective when you’re not seems par for the course for politicians. This guy seems to just have a good sense for what the ASSU really is…a joke.

    Look, the guy may have done some odd things, but it is quite irresponsible to permanently tar someone’s name online with adjectives like “unethical”, “reprehensible”, and “morally dubious” when it is far from clear that his actions warrant such extreme descriptions, particularly given they appear unrelated to his role at the ASSU.

  6. Stewart MacGregor-Dennis says:

    Thank you for the energy, awareness, and for your participation.

    I want to address two points.

    Yes, I’ve spent 2000 dollars on oDesk, for example I spent $23 on design help for my blog. There a bunch of little projects like this – in fact, there are over 40. I regularly look to save 17 hours of my time by spending $17, as many of us do with services such as dry cleaning.

    Secondly, the screen shot implies that I’ve spent 2k on getting 1000 views; this is not the case. This is absolutely not the case.

    Thank you for your support.

  7. odeskuser says:

    Odesk is actually really useful for things like “Transcribe the words from this picture into a document” or “Make a transcript of the audio from this video” which are traditionally what professionals use Odesk for.

    While we don’t know the actual percentage spent on “useful” vs. “non-useful” tasks Stewart has done, the fact of the matter is that your twitter account, facebook page, and even individual statuses have an inordinate amount of activity from FAKE accounts so we can only put two and two together and say that the Odesk and these numbers are related.

  8. Doug says:

    I don’t like SMD because he lied about being on financial aid

    but come on

    the kid is harmless. plus, as much as they would like to pretend otherwise, the ASSU does not affect our lives in the slightest.

  9. kaughtner says:

    This is how viral marketing works. Sometimes you need to pay for a little traction, and we shouldn’t be lampooning Stewart for trying to bump his appeal a bit.

    People, it’s not a big deal. Here’s another smaller case from Stanford.

    Peruse the Twitter followers of this Glassmap founder:

  10. Citation? says:


  11. Robert Genkins says:


  12. Jim says:

    Stanford finally gets its own Aleksey Vayner… too bad his videos are too bizarre to go viral.

  13. Young alum says:

    So the kid is a little intense. It’s not a big deal. As far as I can tell the worst thing he did (which is a mistake anyone could make) was using copyrighted material, which he corrected. It does not say he used ASSU funds on oDesk.

    The kid is excited about the opportunities that Stanford is giving him. Maybe he’s a little over excited, but that’s better than being at the opposite end of the spectrum. Keep up the motivation and enthusiasm.

  14. StanfordSenior says:

    Stewart, I hope you realize that your response does not help your case; if anything, it makes you look worse because you failed to address the picture that is circulating which suggests that fake people are liking your campaign posts. The screenshot does not imply you spent 2k to get a bunch of views, the screenshot from facebook speaks for itself. It implies that fake accounts liked your post, a lot of fake people. I don’t think money is the main issue, though that is primarily the issue you addressed in your response.

    Spending money on a campaign is not inherently unethical. However, having fake people like your campaign posts is; at least it is in the opinion of many Stanford students, the relevant population in this case.

  15. anon says:

    @Chris ’06 the feeling I’ve been getting is that these have been REPEATED things over the year that make his actions unethical.

  16. Voter says:

    I think the only unethical thing here is that he payed for likes on his posts and views on videos in an attempt to make the voters think that he had the support of many other students. If we see one of his crazy posts and see that 50 people like it, we’re less inclined to think it’s actually crazy.

    You may think that he was simply paying for the likes, and whether or not the likes affected voters’ opinions of him is the voters’ own fault. Regardless, it was an attempt to dupe the voters. People now know that he was attempting to dupe them, and they are now less likely to vote for him (and those that already didn’t like him are more likely to vote for another candidate).

  17. Kairos resident says:

    VOTE DANIEL KONING for ASSU PRESIDENT! Seriously. The Chappie slate is the strongest.

  18. Question says:

    @Stewart MacGregor-Dennis – what are your thought on paying people less than minimum wage? ethical? legal?

  19. Danny says:

    Chris ’06 said “This guy seems to just have a good sense for what the ASSU really is…a joke.”

    Exactly. And his Twitter/Tumblr/Metavlogs are HILARIOUS. I want FOUR MORE YEARS… er… THREE MORE QUARTERS OF SMD 2.0!!!

  20. Junior says:

    I find some of Stewart’s actions misleading at best and duplicitous at worst. This is a shameful loss of face. I think he owes the student body, including his supporters, a forthright explanation of all of this.

  21. Jack says:

    Stewart MacGregor-Dennis is off his f**king rocker. PLEASE do not re-elect this whackjob.

  22. Senior says:

    Hey Kristi,

    This is an awesome post. SMD is a freaking lunatic

  23. Alex says:

    Honestly, I understand that this post is completely in the realm of acceptable “blogging” in terms of the content-to-tone dynamic, but it really frustrates me that TUSB has decided to take such a political stance on this issue.

  24. Foryour Owngood says:

    For those of you who have questions about SMD’s campaign policies, might I direct you to his recent facebook post:

    ” I’ll be answering questions related to the campaign on askolo later soon. Feel free to ask any question you’d like!

    Of course, I took this opportunity to ask him a few questions that were on my mind. So far he hasn’t gotten back about any of them, but I’d be interested to see what he says when/if he does. If he even so much as answers one of my questions I’ll be happy. In no particular order:

    1. What can the ASS-U do for ASS-ME?

    2. Save dying child from house fire or advance your professional career–you can only choose one, which do you go for?

    3. What is your stance on gay marriage, and how will you work to bring more gay marriages to the stanford undergraduate population?

    4. What is more important to you: family or résumé ?

    5. Getting ‘getting things done’ done is not getting things done. Discuss.


    7. 8===================D?

    8. Poor people: worthy of our sympathy, or viable fuel source?

    9. Transparency is a bad idea for windows because birds run into them. The only way to stop birds from running into your windows is to put up a picture of a larger predatory bird to scare the others into submission. Discuss the metaphorical implications of this comparison on your supposedly “transparent” campaign.

    10. If you had to be either racist or unsustainable, which would you choose?

    11. Ass or titties?

    12. One day, The entire Omni product team goes on strike, and you are left with no strategic planning software whatsoever. How many people would you feel justified in ritualistically assassinating to intimidate the strikers into returning to work?

    13. John Hennessey wants a blow job. Do you give it to him?

    14. If the only way to get an endorsement from the Aztec Society of Stanford (ASS) was to devour the live beating heart of a nubile preteen virginal male, would you devour the live beating heart of a nubile preteen virginal male?

    15. Is it still gay if the balls don’t touch?

  25. Josh says:

    I received 4 emails from Stewart’s “The Stanford Student Challenge” this week.

    Three of them are the exact same email.

    More importantly, I graduated last year and now live in a different part of the country.

  26. Sceth says:

    I didn’t care much about the ASSU before Stewart.

    He kept it in our faces, which was good for its mission. But more importantly, at least insofar as detractors in these comments appear to value – Cruz and SMD kept the organization under scrutiny. I first voted for him primarily because I thought his entrepreneurial slant could bring more Silicon Valley onto campus.

    I’m glad Kirsti called out SMD’s confident “let’s build the most effective student government” declarations sent out before that exec team started — Cruz and SMD were working on building those connections.

    The posters here seem to be unconsciously reproducing the tired trope of “heroes are humble; villains have work ethic.” I want an exec with a work ethic and a highly aggressive paradigm. So I’m going to vote for him again.

  27. Crystal says:

    @Alex Thanks for your response! But as it says at the beginning of the article, this is Kristi’s opinion. Although I can’t say whether or not other bloggers agree with her, I can say that all the posts on the blog are the opinion/work of the writer. This post was not the entire blog taking a stance on the election.

  28. Senior says:

    what a clown.

  29. Kate says:

    I would have liked your article, had it not been for the shameless plug to vote for someone else. I am not affiliated with Stewart MacGregor-Dennis or ASSU — honestly, I could care less. To put it bluntly, you didn’t need to force your opinion down our throats; it would have been enough to just report on MacGregor-Dennis and his Facebook flub and let his actions speak for himself. To me this seems like a political invective rather than an informative article.

    Because of the tone that your article undertakes, I might actually be compelled to vote for MacGregor-Dennis.

  30. Alex says:

    @Crystal. Cool! People often don’t write things that they don’t agree with, so I believe that added note doesn’t do anything that wasn’t assumed! You know what it doesn’t say at the start of this article? “All opinions expressed within do not reflect the opinion of the TUSB staff as a whole”! So, as far as was indicated in this particular article, it might as well be the entire blog as a whole taking a stance. This is the precise reason that newspapers like the New York Times separate their opinion pieces into a section labelled editorials.

    A couple more things. It doesn’t really matter if you detach your authors from posting their opinions from the opinion of the blog as a whole. The New York Times is widely recognized as a liberal newspaper precisely because the editorial pieces they select typically set the tone of their paper politically. You still moderate the content posted, and thus you take a position inherently. If you’d posted a highly critical article, misrepresenting the things the the other slates said in the debate, for example, it would seem much less biased. Post what you want. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t. I’m simply expressing my distaste for both the quality of the opinions expressed within this article and the decision of the TUSB staff to let it be posted.

  31. Alex says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wyWMDMAtT8&feature=share — SMD+D Response. Ought to be here.

  32. Thought Stanford Was Better Than Today says:

    Somewhere in the past couple of hours a lot of people crossed the line.

    Yeah, Stewart has fake accounts following him and he pays to have his social media channels managed. I fail to see how that actually affects what he believes in and plans to do as an ASSU Exec. If anything, I would want him to spend LESS time online trying to manage his own personal brand. And, yes, he has a personal brand. We all do, he just happens to be growing it more than most people.

    Also, don’t play dumb. Anyone who so much as browsed at the activity Stewart was creating on Twitter and Facebook could have told you he was getting a lot of spambots following him. This isn’t new.

    And, yes, the sketchiest part of all I think, is that third-party databases may have our email addresses and some personal info. But, so far, it doesn’t seem like that’s information that you had to work too hard to find. The access to the information apparently was there courtesy of our university’s privacy policies, Stewart just happened to maybe push the boundaries a little by storing all that information. That’s probably says more about Stanford University’s ability to keep our info private. Remember when everyone’s personal addresses were available on StanfordWho not too long ago? Yeah, ANYONE could have seriously messed with that, and that speaks to a much bigger privacy problem.

    A lot of us need to look in the mirror tomorrow morning and ask ourselves why we allowed this to get so personal. Let’s face it, a lot of people just don’t seem to like the guy. But that doesn’t mean he’s not qualified to be ASSU President. We should be able to look beyond personal attacks into the actual substance behind what candidates believe in and what they’ve done.

    Then again, maybe we can’t. I don’t know what impact these recent news will have on the election but I sure as hell have lost a bit of respect for a student body that looked REALLY eager to go after one of its own. He sends a lot of emails and likes to put his face out there. Big whoop. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign takes up more space in my inbox and you won’t see me calling him a tool.

  33. Joshua says:

    An utterly inconsequential social scandal unfolds on campus. The Stanford student body is afire, gossiping, producing a pile of meme image in-jokes. This is the kind of stuff we care about and like to spend our time on.

    Meanwhile, one of the most destructive criminal organizations in the world quietly has an info session at the CDC. This recruiter is in some way or other responsible for, most likely, *millions* of deaths (please allow the magnitude of that to register in your mind, just think about it for a moment–those were literally millions of other human beings no different from you). This is the type of issue we don’t care about. Most of us already know we won’t go work there. Could it really be our responsibility as privileged citizens to actively oppose such an organization? Isn’t apathy enough? Aside from our tax dollars, we aren’t actively supporting it, right?


  34. Grad student says:


    I would love to have the prestige of working for the CIA. I highly doubt the recruiter looking to fill data analyst roles is “is in some way or other responsible for, most likely, *millions* of deaths.” He probably doesn’t even have the clearance to know of such things if he’s here to recruit fresh faces from Stanford.

    You obviously don’t know how the paramilitary arm (SAD) of the CIA recruits or operates. If you want to blame the breeding grounds for such operatives, then blame DEVGRU/1st SFOD-Delta/Task Force 88/Task force 121/The Activity (aka GreyFox/CentraSpike/TF-Orange/whatever they call themselves nowadays). But don’t pin a ludicrous accusation on a guy for doing his job. Furthermore, I don’t think the CIA kills millions of people. They don’t go around massacring Iraqi villages for fun. They target special people, you know, like Bin Laden.

    As for McGregor-Dennis, and as said before, the kid’s a clown.

  35. @Alex says:

    you’re comparing a blog run by undergraduates to a national newspaper? get over yourself

  36. Jay says:

    Did this get out of hand? Yes
    Were there unnecessary attacks on SMD’s character? Yes
    Was it worth it to make sure this tool isn’t representing Stanford? Absolutely

  37. Sasha says:

    @Alex: Let me give you some info on the way TUSB runs. If you have a Stanford email address, you can post on the blog. In my experience it takes less than a week to get approved. At TUSB, we do not assign beats. You write about whatever you want. Furthermore, we do not moderate the posts. If someone wants feedback/proof-reading/editing, they can email the listserv for feedback. So if you want to post, you login, write your post, press the publish button, and a couple seconds later it is on the web. There is no approval process. The only thing the admins do is stuff like clear the spam box. Or update our WordPress account. I am sorry you are disappointed in the lack of balance in our content. Please let us know if you personally wish to write a post defending SMD’s slate or criticizing the others. We would love to have more voices on the blog!

  38. weirded_out says:

    SMD just sent me a text message that started with my name….how in the heck did they get my cell phone number?!?!?! i had no clue who they were until this article….i’m officially bothered/weirded out/


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