Whether you’re overwhelmed with bloggy nostalgia, seeking amusing procrastination mechanisms, or quantitatively contemplating the meaning of Valentine’s Day, you can check out his recent articles below:
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.
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.
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 ballot.stanford.edu.
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.
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!
Repudiation. Denial. Shellacking. These words have resounded throughout the media echo chamber following Tuesday’s elections, which have dramatically altered the American political landscape.
Now that most of the results are in, and most of the celebrations and lamentations are on the wane, two key questions have emerged: 1) Who were the big winners and losers? 2) How will the results shape our country’s future?
The first is largely straightforward, with a few caveats. The Republicans gained 60 seats in the House, as expected, and the Democrats managed to hang on to the Senate with a 53-47 majority. Although some governor races remain too close to call, including that of my native CT, the GOP has clearly made huge gains on the state level, picking up at least nine executive seats. Some other major developments:
- Wealthy, self-financed candidates lost in spectacular fashion. Standout examples include Meg Whitman, who spent $142 million in her bid to become California’s next governor, and Linda McMahon in Connecticut, who paid about $103 per vote for a total of over $50 million during her failed senatorial campaign. Republican Rick Scott was the most prominent exception; he spent $73 million of his own money to win Florida’s gubernatorial race.
- Harry Reid (D-NV) clung to his Senate seat despite a nasty race against Sharon Angle, whom he trailed in the polls for most of the fall. He will remain Senate Majority Leader.
- Tea Party-backed candidates had mixed results. On the one hand, they enjoyed some serious victories, such as toppling liberal icon Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and electing Marco Rubio in Florida. However, their successes seemed to stop at the borders of densely populated areas, including New York and California. Other high-profile candidates like Christine O’Donnell, who once claimed to have dabbled in witchcraft, endured a drubbing at the voting booths.
- Democrats were destroyed in many regions they carried in 2008, especially in the Midwest. They lost ten house seats between Pennsylvania and Ohio alone, and they lost governorships and control of both state legislative houses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
- Crucial California ballot measures…. Prop 19, which would have legalized and taxed marijuana, lost by about an 8% margin. Voters also rejected Prop 23, which would have repealed many of California’s environmental laws. Other measures include Prop 20, which tasks a non-partisan commission with re-drawing congressional district lines, and Prop 25, which requires only a simple majority to pass a state budget. For more information on propositions, click here.
Elections are only two days away, which means that campus is as apathetic as ever. Why should you vote? Well, there’s that whole civic duty thing. Then there’s the fact that these elections are important because they could affect the whole balance of national and state politics. Then there’s the fact that, somewhere in the United States, this crazy person, or this crazy person, or this crazy person, this crazy person, or even this crazy person could, or even very well might, be elected. And then there’s because P. Diddy tells you to.
California elections are particularly interesting because of the propositions system, which allows for voters to pass laws with a simple majority. Just as in elections past, this upcoming ballot features a wide range of interesting propositions. In the spirit of making sure voters are informed, Stanford in Government (SIG) has published a non-partisan voter guide to help California voters navigate the murky and horribly-worded propositions when they prepare to vote. Here is the information on some of the most important propositions:
Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010
Summary: Would allow people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Local governments would have authority to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Would prohibit people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Current prohibitions against driving while impaired would be maintained.
Pro: Supporters say that Proposition 19 will save the state money currently spent in enforcing the failed laws against marijuana growth and use. They say that Proposition 19 will effectively end the violent drug market created by marijuana prohibition. Proponents argue that marijuana arrests have cost the state millions of dollars in police, prosecution, and prison costs. They argue that taxing the sale of marijuana could bring in large sums to help the state during current budget deficits.
Con: Opponents say that Proposition 19 is a flawed measure that loosens penalties for driving or working under the influence of marijuana. They believe that legalized marijuana will have public costs larger than any amount of revenue brought in by the drug. Many opponents believe that marijuana is a “gateway” drug and will lead users to more dangerous drugs like heroin or cocaine.
Also see here for a debate on Prop. 19.
Congressional district lines to be re-drawn by a committee
The midterm [no, not that type] elections are just a week and a half away, which means that judgment day for controversial proposition 19, medical marijuana legalization in the state, is approaching fast. A number of high-profile proponents have been speaking out on both sides, including your average dose of political crazy claims.
But there are also some very well-thought out ideas for both supporting and opposing the proposition. Hoover Fellow Joseph McNamara, who supports 19, and Medical School professor Keith Humphreys, debated the issue with STANFORD Magazine.
Definitely worth reading if you are a California voter. Some good quotes:
The enormous appeal in just one election of being able to reduce crime so significantly and violence by a yes vote for 19 is a golden opportunity.[... and] maybe the revenue won’t amount to all that much, but when you combine it with the fact that you’ve reduced the cost of the criminal justice system very significantly, that, plus any additional revenue, is something to take seriously.
To say that a legal industry will make the product safer, then you have to say that the tobacco leaf is more dangerous than a Marlboro. It is the legal industry that makes that raw tobacco leaf into a deadly product.[... Plus,] the price of marijuana will fall dramatically and people will buy more of it, as they do with any commodity that drops in price.
Again, read the whole thing here.
Just when you thought you had escaped the exhaustion of ASSU Elections, after learning of the election results, we decided to give out our own awards.
Straight to the point. Too bad it wasn’t big enough.
Most Interesting Use of Photoshop
Most Campaign Paraphernalia
Meet the winning sophomore slate. We couldn’t cross campus without seeing a neon green Sophs4More t-shirt or a pair of neon sunglasses.
If there’s a pervasive atmosphere on campus during the ASSU election period, it’s apathy—most people really could not care less except for the people who are running or the people who realize that their group needs special fees to survive. The reason there is so little interest in elections is because the ASSU, particularly the Senate, really has no power. This is problematic in particular because there are so many people running for this relatively useless position—if these students are actually interested in meaningful change at Stanford, their possible contributions will probably be minimized via this form of student government.
The Senate serves one very important role: determining fiscal appropriations for student groups, which is because most student groups try to achieve a lot with very little and need all the funding that they can get. The ASSU Senate is able to allot funding to groups from money paid by the entire student body, allowing for student groups to produce that which is otherwise too expensive, such as put on shows or make publications (I’ve gone through the ASSU for both things as a Financial Officer, and it’s been extremely helpful both for allowing students to create and for allowing other students to experience these creations, free of charge).