Chapman Caddell (Undergraduate Senate candidate)

Email
jcaddell@stanford.edu
Candidate statement

Why I’m Running

I didn’t expect to be running for Undergraduate Senate. Many of my peers had told me that the Senate didn’t do anything—that campus politics would be a waste of time. This is false, and the more I learned about the Senate, the more I began to appreciate just how much power our Senators have. Senators have control over a VSO-funding process that dozens of student groups depend on. They also have a direct line to the administration that gives them influence over such critical issues as sexual-assault prevention and Stanford’s sustainability policy. The first step in making any government accountable is to know what that government can and cannot do. I intend to make the Undergraduate Senate more transparent, more democratic, and more representative of the voices of every student on this campus.

If you believe in pragmatic leadership that responds to students’ needs and interests, keep reading to see where I stand on the issues. If there’s an issue that you believe in that you don’t think I address, shoot me an email at jcaddell@stanford.edu. Your voice deserves to be heard.

My Priorities

1. Democratizing the Funding Process

Though the Senate is responsible for overseeing the VSO-funding process, student groups always have the right to petition the student body for funding. Our VSOs (voluntary student organizations) provide valuable services to the community, and they depend on the ASSU for the funding they need to survive. We are lucky to be members of a thoughtful, intelligent community of students who care enough to fully consider the issues. Final decisions on funding should be made by the student body. That means:

a. VSOs’ right to petition the Undergraduate Senate’s funding recommendations should not be restricted. The Constitutional Council recently formally recognized the student body’s right to have the final say.

b. VSOs should not have to risk losing all their funding to petition to get on the ballot. Currently, if groups petition unsuccessfully, they lose their place on ballot. Groups that choose to petition the Senate’s recommendations for annual-grant funding need to be protected. Small groups should not have to risk their existence to petition an unfair funding recommendation. They should be guaranteed a place on the ballot and a vote on at least 75% of their budget in the previous year.

c. Barriers to funding should be removed. The number of signatures needed to put a budget on the ballot should be tied to group size and the increase in funding requested. A group seeking to double its funding from the previous year should require more signatures than a group requesting an increase in funding in line with inflation. A group of ten should not be expected to meet the same standard as a group of two hundred. Budgets that make it on the ballot still need to be approved by 15% of the student body. Let’s give students the chance to decide for themselves.

d. The above proposals could result in higher student fees. If costs go up, low-income students will be disproportionately affected. In recognition of this possibility, access to waivers for ASSU fees needs to be expanded. Whether VSO costs increase or decrease, if you can’t afford the student fee, you shouldn’t be required to pay it. This is non-negotiable, and any funding reform must come with a guarantee of low-income students’ right to waive the fee.

2. Empowering Survivors of Sexual Violence

The Senate should be given credit where credit is due. A number of Senators have committed themselves to helping survivors of sexual assault and exposing weaknesses in Stanford’s Title IX Office. I believe that survivors deserve to feel safe on campus, and to that end, I want to reform our investigative and hearing process to give survivors the support they need in choosing whether or not to file a claim. My focus will be on making our Title IX process more survivor-friendly:

a. In the wake of the controversy over the firing of Crystal Riggins, the university’s model of keeping lawyers on retainer needs to change. Whether or not firing Ms. Riggins was a retaliatory act, trust needs to be restored between the student body and the administration. The only way to restore trust is to take power out of the administration’s hands and give it back to the students. The retainer model should be replaced with a voucher system; Stanford should give survivors the financial support they need to hire lawyers who will serve their interests and only their interests. Vouchers should cover far more than just nine hours of legal advice, the amount of time currently covered by the university. The school has the money to make a difference, and supporting survivors is far more important than building a new parking garage.

b. Reporting a sexual assault to the Title IX Office begins a process that can last more than seventy days. The university should not force survivors to relive traumatic experiences any more than absolutely necessary. I will work with the administration to expedite the process to help more survivors get the justice they deserve.

c. I will continue to support current ASSU programs to support survivors and combat sexual assault. In particular, I will continue the Undergraduate Senate’s efforts to introduce Callisto, an online reporting tool for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. Existing resources need our continued support, and new resources need to be made available.

3. Fighting Religious Discrimination

The 2016 presidential campaign brought out much of the worst in America. Moving forward will require individuals to take a stand against bigotry in all of its forms. In particular, Stanford has a problem with anti-Semitism that needs to be addressed by students in positions of leadership. The university condemns acts of hate, and the Undergraduate Senate needs to take similar steps. Waves of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism need to be publicly confronted by representatives of the student body to prevent the normalization of attacks on religious communities. The ASSU should fight stereotypes and preach universal acceptance:

a. It is the Undergraduate Senate’s responsibility to promote interfaith dialogue to create a safer, more welcoming environment for students of all religious backgrounds. The Senate must recognize the recent rise in attacks on the Muslim and Jewish communities and unambiguously condemn all forms of religious discrimination. I especially want to shine a spotlight on the anti-Semitism that too often goes ignored in our community, including the anti-Semitism associated with the BDS movement.

4. Building a Culture of Sustainability

I intend to reaffirm Stanford’s commitment to fighting climate change and eliminating environmentally unsustainable practices on campus. That means recognizing our responsibility to the environment and implementing practical policies to reduce the school’s carbon footprint. Before coming to Stanford, I worked on technical solutions to obstacles to clean-energy use. Now, I want to tackle the same problems through policy. Stanford has already made significant progress in finding solutions to environmental problems, but there is always more work to be done:

a. Implementing a campus carbon tax would both reduce Stanford’s carbon footprint and give other schools a model to follow in reducing their own emissions. Putting carbon tax in place on campus would pose significant challenges that could be best solved by a joint committee of faculty, students, and members of the administration. A revenue-neutral tax would cost nothing and create a monetary incentive for businesses on campus to practice sustainability.

b. Senators should work with the administration to meet more of Stanford’s energy needs with renewable sources. The less we rely on fossil fuels, the better off we are. Stanford’s high profile gives it the responsibility to lead the country by weaning itself off fossil fuels. Though the school has already established itself as a leader in this area, we need to continue to put pressure on the administration to ensure that current measures only represent the beginning, not the end, of our transition to clean energy.

5. Investing in Equality of Opportunity

First-generation and low-income students need to be supported more than ever. Just as the university has the responsibility to be a leader in fighting climate change, it has the responsibility to give low-income students access to the resources they need to succeed. A true commitment to equality of opportunity starts in admissions and doesn’t end there:

a. Going forward, admissions should be focused on improving the student body’s income distribution. Universities are America’s engines of economic mobility. This mission is undermined by policies that put together classes in which a student is just as likely to come from the top one percent as the bottom sixty percent. The Undergraduate Senate does not have any real power over the admissions process, but it does have a voice. The Senate’s voice should be used to build socioeconomically diverse classes that better reflect the socioeconomic makeup of the country.

b. Some of the biggest problems facing low-income students are the easiest to solve. Investing in keeping dining halls open over breaks would cost the university relatively little. The Senate has a role to play in putting pressure on the administration to support low-income students, both during breaks and through the quarter. Expanding the Leland Scholars Program would also make a positive difference. Community and academic preparation help low-income and first-generation students thrive, and the Leland Scholars Program plays a role in both. The Senate has the responsibility to push the administration to increase spending to address the unique issues faced by low-income students at Stanford.

In the interest of full disclosure of my other commitments and VSO affiliations, I will be serving as Stanford in Government’s Financial Officer in the spring. Potential conflicts of interest should be disclosed. As your Senator, I will always put the student body’s interests before my own personal interests, but accountability depends on honesty. I will recuse myself from any discussion or vote on funding Stanford in Government. I expect other Senators to make similar commitments to balance and integrity.

Posted on March 25, 2017.

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