Posts Tagged ‘ASSU’

Party With Fees: A Lighthearted Rant

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Would you like $250 $140? Right now? Free and clear? How about every quarter? Yeah, so would I. However, unlike most random hypothetical questions, I can actually deliver on this one. $250 $140 of your tuition per quarter automatically goes to special fees. However, saying as you don’t ever actively consent to this distribution of funds to various student groups, the ASSU would be in something of a legal snafu if they didn’t give you the option of taking the money back at some point. So they do. For the first two weeks of every quarter, you have the option of waiving the money you paid for special fees. It’s really that simple. You can get a refund for $250 $140 worth of special fees every quarter. The solitary attached string? The leadership of groups that get special fees are allowed to request a list of students who waived their fees and may bar those students from using their services. But that’s seriously it. Now some food for thought: what could I buy with the $750 $420 a year that I currently spend on special fees? Here’s my short list:

 – A boatload of Philz coffee

Seven Four trips skydiving

– One of those giant stuffed trees from the bookstore

– A romantic weekend in Tahoe

– My weight in marshmallows

– *Part of* The mens water polo team

– Parking for my entire Stanford career ~two years

– A flight to somewhere very far away

30 17 cases of Two Buck Chuck

– Half an Ochem textbook

– An iPhone 17

3 2+ Dance Marathon pledges

– The worlds most hipster bike

Someone to slap me when I procrastinate (could definitely use one of those right about now…)


The Golden Rule

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Yes, I am writing about the ASSU election.  Yes, a lot has already been said.  I am writing anyway.  And even though while I type this, I feel like a mom lecturing her badly-behaving children, I still think it deserves to be said.  Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.  The message is simple.  Every human being deserves respect.

Sure, Stewart MacGregor-Dennis has put himself in the public sphere.  He has allowed every detail of his life to be published, for the entire world to see.  He holds elected office and is running yet again.  His platform, the job he has done this year, the current ASSU election system — these are all valid things to question and be critical about.  However, disagreeing with someone and dragging their name through the mud are NOT the same thing.

It is easy to sit at your computer and post a status, send an email, or write a blog post saying something not-so-nice about someone else.  You don’t have to face them in person.    You don’t have to think about how your comments might make someone else feel.  Instead, you just have to write and press post.  Voila!  Now your opinion is in on the web, for anyone and everyone to see.

But let me tell you, your words have power.  They have the power to make others laugh, the power to foster introspection, the power to spread knowledge.  And among many other things, your words also have the power to hurt.

I would know.  A year or so ago, I published a blog post, for TUSB in fact, about a internet site called Total Frat Movement (TFM).  I was bored during break, found out about the site, and decided to write about it.  In the end, it was a rather strong criticism of way in which the website portrays Greek Life to the world.  In the end, TFM ended up linking my post in their head bar.  The post got over 200 comments, most of which were extremely negative.  These people called me everything from stupid to fat and ugly.  And while, I knew that none of these things were true and these were people that I had never met and know nothing about me, those comments still hurt me, just as I am sure, the things said about Steward hurt him.

These posts, these statuses will live on the internet forever.  When someone googles his name (maybe an employer), the post you wrote will pop up.  It will and has affected his life.

One of my favorite things about Stanford, and one of the main reasons I decided to attend this university, is the type of people it has attracted — brilliant, passionate, fun, warm, kind people.  This is not the foot we are currently putting forward.  If I was a prospective student reading this back- and-forth, I would get the picture that Stanford is a cut-throat environment, where peers are constantly bringing each other down, trampling over each other to get to the top.  This is not Stanford.  It is certainly not the Stanford I fell in love with as a ProFro and the institution I am proud to say I belong to.

So as the election finishes up and the results are released, please remember to respect your peers, whether you agree with their positions or not.  Really, we are all just doing our best to get by in the world, to follow our dreams, to find our passions.  And frankly, that is hard enough as it is.

Why I Dropped Out: an Editorial from a Former ASSU Candidate

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

James Mwara '13, who recently withdrew his candidacy from the ASSU Executive race.

The following post is from James Mwaura ’13, who recently withdrew from the ASSU Executive race with his running-mate, Charles Mbatia ’13.

It is with great disappointment that Charles and I are announcing the end of our campaign. It seems we attempted to climb a mountain too high, faced a tweeter/video blogger too relentless, challenged a political schematic too masterfully designed to maintain the status quo. We attempted to play Ralph Nader in a Bush-Kerry election, assuming Bush was of less-than-wholesome mental stability and Kerry backed by a not just the Democratic party, but an organization deemed so righteous that challenging it would be abandoning all political sanctity. We entered this election with a goofy grin on our faces and a catchy campaign slogan, and leave with a piece of useful knowledge which I am eager to share with all you:

The ASSU will remain exactly the same forever, unless something really, really radical happens. By exactly the same, I mean a SOCC-endorsed, GAIA-endorsed group of a few dozen students whose interests are more closely aligned with a mock government high school group than the members of a “democracy” managing a budget of several million dollars and a constituency of more than 14,000 individuals. (While this does little to appease offended parties, I only put “democracy” in quotations because the University has the ability to nullify almost everything ASSU does.)

Charles Mbatia '13, James's running-mate.

I’ll begin with a story. When winning this campaign still seemed feasible, I was told that I needed to attend an ASSU meeting to lobby for public finance money, as my petition had fallen short of the necessary number of valid signatures. The meeting ended up being one of the most enlightening and most disheartening moments of the campaign. For over 45 minutes, ASSU senators debated with the executives on wildly miniscule features of Michael Cruz’s brainchild, the new ASSU Constitution. The arguments included the removal of double negatives, the wording of various sections, and other mundane issues. It was easily one of the least productive assemblies of people I had ever witnessed. The meeting concluded with my meekly bringing up my finance conundrum, which was fortunately unanimously approved. (This was later retracted, as it turned out that the graduate and undergraduate sides of the ASSU Senate had failed to pass the same version of the original public finance bill.)  (more…)

Memes and Extremes: ASSU Judgement Day

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

This article is a response to Kristi.

Everyone has their quirks, especially here at Stanford, where high achievement is often the result of hyperorganization and highly developed time management and planning skills. Where Stewart MacGregor-Dennis differs from most students is that he posts his thinking online for all of Stanford to see. This can make him a target, but it also means that you know the candidate you are voting for. Spending his personal money on maintaining his social media (if you look through his ODesk account, he has only spent about $50 services related to his campaign) doesn’t seem to be an issue pertinent to his ability to be President.  And in the end, it’s all transparent: everyone can see his likes, twitter followers, and ODesk account. Why is the most controversial issue in this campaign the idea that a candidate might actually try to maximize his social media footprint? Some tactics may have been misguided, but to claim Stewart is unethical or that he was trying to dupe the student body is laughable. We all know how the internet works: things that get liked or followed get more likes or followers. But everyone can still see who is liking and following what.

Stewart MacGregor Dennis and Druthi Ghanta

The current attacks on Stewart aren’t focused on his experience, or his platform. They don’t critique the things he has done working for the ASSU, and they don’t question his plans for the coming year.  Instead, they focus primarily on his personal life. This isn’t problematic in and of itself—politicians open themselves up to scrutiny by the public. Stewart, perhaps more than any other student at Stanford, lives his life with transparency.

Much has been made of the infamous 40 page life plan, his propensity for mind mapping, and his active tweeting. These are all ways in which Stewart has combined the private and public spheres of his life. This is quirky, and it’s easy to look at a 40 page life plan and crack jokes (you have, after all, forty pages of material to work with). However, the things that look eccentric in Stewart’s personal life are the things that make his successful in Stanford student government. Life plans, mind maps—all of these are indicative of a strong vision and a passion for organization.

The ASSU needs a President that can keep track of it’s  its over 650 student groups, the over 40 university committees with student representation, and branches of government like the SSE, SSD, Undergraduate Senate, and Graduate Student Council. And if it takes a thousand mind maps to make it happen, then that’s what it takes. Next year, I want Axess to be improved and upgraded further (a la SimpleEnroll), co-hosting small grants for students groups, and affordable summer storage for students and student groups. These things affect Stanford far more than a few unwanted emails or the number likes on a Facebook status ever will.

Vote for the candidates whose platform you support on April 12 at  

Update: This is Rachel Rose. This article was posted to my personal Facebook, but thanks Adam for the reminder to be clear for those not on Facebook.

And so it begins….

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Brace yourself for the start of a new ASSU election season.  As we look forward to the year to come, take a moment to reflect on this year’s ASSU.  What was great?  What could’ve been better?  Respond in the comments and the poll below!

How do you feel about the job done by the ASSU Executive this year?

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Bit early, eh?


Hot Prowls and Unsubscribe-List-This: Stanford 2011 Year in Review

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Yeah, that's about right.

A predominantly factual, occasionally satiric reflection on the crazy year that was 2011.


  • After a record 11-1 season, Stanford Football continues to dominate in its 40-12 romp over Virginia Tech.  The almost banned Band celebrates with a party on the beach as hundreds of students ditch the first day of Winter Quarter.
  • Beloved quarterback Andrew Luck proceeds to solidify his Stanford hero status by deciding to forgo the NFL draft and finish his Stanford career.  Arrillaga scraps plans for the fifth on-campus gym to construct an edifice in Luck’s honor.
  • Confusion, fear, and panic, but mostly confusion grips the campus as Stanford Police fervently warns the entire student population of a Hot Prowl via mass text alert system.  As is the case with most current events on campus, “Hot Prowl” quickly becomes a popular party theme.
  • To add to campus confusion, mid-January brings mid-60’s and sunshine.

Also offered starting spring: Math 2 / Music 4B: Days of the Week in Modern Song


  • Based on the popularity of hit single “Friday,” the Office of the Registrar introduces Phil 240: Front Seat / Back Seat: Existential Determinism in the Age of Rebecca Black
  • Valentine’s Day week heralds the annual V-week and the sale of chocolate va-jay-jays.  Despite promoters’ claims to the contrary, the student population remains convinced that “V” stands for very-awkward.


  • Rogue reporters “out” Stanford athletes through sensational reporting in a Stanford Daily article on “The List.”  Student-athletes respond: “dude, you could’ve just picked up a copy if you ever went to the gym.”  Professors respond: “don’t misquote me, bro.”
  • Kappa Sig loses its housing, and fratstars adopt a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, scavenging social entrepreneurship mixers and RA candy bowls for subsistence.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy graces the halls of Stanford, generating more fanfare than Bill Gates and the Cataracs (though I admit that’d be an awesome name for a band) put together.  Ms. Frizzle plans a visit for 2012.
  • Stanford men’s swimming wins its 30th consecutive Pac-10 championship.  In other news, Stanford Hospital completes its first successful gill-removal surgery.

Revelers participate in the Stanford spring festival.


  • Embracing Stanford’s hippie tradition, Stanford students choose to tie-dye their entire BODIES!!  Just kidding, that’s paint from the Asha Holi Festival on Sand Hill Fields.
  • Fear once again grips the campus as students find themselves on constant lookout for Indian men smelling like apples.
  • The great mailing list fail of 2011 (see also: “unsubscribe-list-this“) proves that, given an audience of thousands, Stanford students choose to post dozens of videos of silly cats and zero profanities.  My faith in humanity is restored.
  • Perez Hilton visits campus.  Hilton’s tweets on the visit: 37.  Stanford students in attendance: 8.
  • ASSU elections come and go.  The Wellness Room is still doing well.

Ah, the semi-charmed Stanford life....


  • ‘The annual 680 Lomita Exotic party committee runs out of words that rhyme with “exotic” and opts for more direct marketing.  “Sweaty, Partially Naked People” is a great success.  Or at least people think it was.  Most don’t remember.
  • The International Hide and Seek champion is finally apprehended in Pakistan.  Osama bin Laden’s death is heralded with fountain hopping and “America, F*** Yeah” blaring from freshman dorms.
  • Third Eye Blind hosts a free concert.  Excited to reclaim their youth, Stanford students show up in droves with Beanie Babies and Giga Pets. (more…)

Update: ASSU Website has returned!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

And considering the wait, I was slightly underwhelmed. The only colorful pages are those with pictures of the Cabinet, Exec Boards and Directors. And it seems a tad less interactive to me now. I mean, there’s a front page slideshow that is literally just pictures, no links.

To me, it seems ready to be amazing but its not quite there yet. If you have any thoughts on the new ASSU website, comment.

The ASSU Website is Not Coming Back Soon Enough…

Monday, September 12th, 2011

TUSB does not have a positive record when it comes to discussing the ASSU. From the elections, to the concept of an ASSU as a whole, it seems like we’ve dissected everything. And yet I still find more to comment on. I’m not asking for anyone to redo the system or for the ASSU to magically grow from being a testing ground for over-eager college students to a mature legislative and executive body. My request is much smaller. And more to the point, this isn’t for me. This is for ’15.

My request is rather simple: bring back the ASSU website. What was supposed to go up on August 10th (sorry but don’t have a screen shot of this) is now an ongoing wait that’s frustrating for all the silent students that check and use the website.


Stanford Online – Admit Weekend 2011

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

You applied. You got in. You conquered. And now, Admit Weekend will officially start tomorrow! And I know that’s far too long to wait to  start exploring the Farm! Although its hard to imagine, once you come to this school, the shiny front page that introduces you to Stanford takes a back seat to all the other websites that students use to keep track of their lives.

Here are a few websites you can check out before and after you get here:

It's so pretty! If you can't wait, check out these websites before you arrive.

For current school presidentsASSU

The Associated Students of Stanford University, including an undergraduate executive and senate, spend the year developing programs and initiative to promote wellness, health, academic sanity, and more on campus. From voting efforts to sustainability, this group has a major impact on what happens on our campus.

For those who are more civic mindedHaas Center For Public Service

I honestly think that the Haas Center is an under utilized haven for those interested in public service. So before you get lost in classes and friends, if you have a public service project I suggest you check out the Haas Center before you come.

For the party/event hopper –  Fountain Hop,  Events at Stanford

This is Stanford. President Obama landed here a week ago to chat it up at Facebook. Joseph Gordon Levitt spoke on campus Monday. Stuff happens.


Why Do You Hate Justice, Stanford?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Daniel Barton just cannot believe the injustice.

A recent op-ed by A Man Who Graduated Over Twenty Years Ago, Daniel Barton, took obvious glee in excoriating sophomore Viviana Arcia and her support of the University’s decision to lower the standard of proof from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of evidence” for sexual assault cases. I can just hear the derisive laughter that only someone with a law degree can produce as he was writing this, and it makes me sad, because the journey toward making a just society is a slow and messy process and goobers like Mr. Barton aren’t making it any easier.

His sentiment is understandable, entirely understandable. After all, “innocent until proven guilty” is one of the most treasured phrases in America, followed by “beyond a reasonable doubt.” “I’d rather let a thousand guilty men go free than let one innocent man be punished” and all that. All very inspiring stuff that nobody wants to speak out against. When it comes to the issue of sexual assault though, things get a little bit thornier.


A semi-coherent tirade about the uselessness of the ASSU and everyone associated with it.

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

I don’t wear a bike helmet. I have lots of undergrad friends. I have social skills. But I’m still a real Stanford grad student, and the evidence is that I just don’t understand why you crazy undergrads give a flying fuck about the ASSU.


But I Thought Smart, Caring Citizens Voted: Your 2011 ASSU Reality Check (Part 2)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Read Part 1 here.

Diddy is voting for Fantastic 4teen.

On this eve before the voting commences, this Reality Check wraps up with a review on the referendum that’s got everybody’s gender-neutral underwear in a twist, a call for citizens to action, and an uninspired joke about Mayor McCheese.

Referendum A

Despite a ringing endorsement from Obama himself (Lord, forgive me for linking to The Weekly Standard), ROTC is strug-guh-ling to return to Stanford a 41-year exile. Honestly, it’s amazing how little people mention the history of its banishment. This issue literally almost tore this campus apart back in 1970. Next time you have a moment, track down a 1970 Stanford Quad to see some crazy photos. Back  then, the issue was about publicly supporting the military when they were engaged in a war nobody wanted to be in. Now, it’s a battle of weary ROTC commuters vs. advocates for trans equality. Stanford is weird. (more…)

The Moral Implications of Special Fees

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Student election season is here again, which mostly means that a bunch of freshmen are scrambling to find rides to Kinko’s to print their best puns. Regardless of which 15 undergraduates are elected to the ASSU Undergraduate Senate, this year’s campaign season has brought to light a far more interesting, and far more contentious, aspect of the elections process: student group special fees.

I think it is fair to say that just about everyone is confused about special fees. Special fees is an amorphous vat of money outside of general fees to fund student groups that can’t be funded through normal bureaucratic channels, and as such it is inherently confusing: since it is essentially impossible for the average student to try and understand the intricacies of the ASSU funding system, let alone each of the 600 student groups’ funding needs, voters are unable to understand why or for what a group should receive special fees.

If this chimpanzee had applied for special fees, he would likely have been violating the principle of universalizability.

Because of this system, groups take advantage of the system and stretch the boundaries of special fees legitimacy. This issue was brought to light by the special fees petition of the members of the Stanford Flipside, in which they requested 7,000+ dollars to buy themselves a Segway scooter. The Flipside’s satire attracted a fair amount of attention, and certainly achieved its satirical mission: it made clear that the special fees process has enormous, easily exploitable loopholes. The Flipside has exposed the problems with special fees that other groups have been abusing for years. The actions these groups are taking are, in my opinion, wrong: it is immoral for students to game the special fees process at the expense of other students. But why?

After thinking about this issue, I believe it is possible to create a coherent moral justification for rewarding special fees money. There are right and wrong actions for student groups requesting special fees to take, independent of other student groups’ actions or the rules of special fees. Just because the law does not prohibit an action does not make it morally justifiable, nor does the fact that other groups are acting immorally condone one’s immoral actions.


But I Thought Smart, Caring Citizens Voted: Your 2011 ASSU Reality Check (Part 1)

Monday, April 4th, 2011

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?



Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

And spam is in my inbox. Welcome back to the Farm.

It’s that time of year again folks: Spring Quarter. That glorious time when, regardless of how cold it is, people are sunbathing because the sun’s out. That time when we all just slack off the tiniest bit because you’d rather play out on the Oval. Our school actually looks the way its portrayed in our brochure. It’s beautiful.

But it’s also a hot mess in email account. Despite efforts by the ASSU and individual efforts among dorm staffs, people use their dorm chat lists for the sale of their textbooks and other items.

Honestly, this really has nothing to do with Spring Quarter (I just like to keep thinking about how pretty it is outside). It’s a recurring problem that sprouts up at the beginning and end of every quarter. Its annoying. It’s obnoxious. And its brilliant.

The reason why students will continue to send out sale emails on their chat-lists is because it’s inadvertant advertising. If you want to read your email (which you really can’t escape doing at this school) you have to also read about the iPad, futon, and Math 51 book that people are trying to foist off on others. Even though the Book Exchange is relatively easy to explore, there’s nothing easier than seeing that one random email that’s selling the perfect book. These emails have actually saved me quite a few bucks in the past.

So while I want to escape it, I can’t really see how this cycle will ever end. And I guess, do we really want it to?

How do you feel about for-sale emails on your chat list?

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