Cole McFaul (Undergraduate Senate candidate)

Email
cmcfaul@stanford.edu
Candidate statement

Hi! My name is Cole McFaul, and I am a Freshman in Twain. Over my first few months at Stanford and as a representative on Frosh Council, I have fallen in love with this university, but at the same time, I have seen many problems that face the university--some of which I think are problems that could be easily remedied. I think Senate is a tremendous platform to implement change and make the university a better place. But fancy words won't get the job done. Real problems require real solutions. Below, I have outlined 10 concrete solutions to improve 10 areas in which I believe the school is lacking. I have included a short list below, with more reasoning in the following section.
1. Increase funding for CAPS counselors while promoting diversity among CAPS counselors
2. Textbook exchange system
3. Establish a community center for first-generation and low-income students
4. Keep dining halls open during breaks
5. Establish mandatory quarterly dorm meetings to increase interpersonal dialogue about gender issues
6. Standardize AlertSU Timely Warnings and have follow-up emails afterwards
7. Keep close tabs on the Stanford committee that determines whether to remove Junipero Serra/Jordan/other controversial figures on campus
8. Secure increased funds for community centers
9. Allocate increased funds to VSOs that put on programs to promote understanding between class, race, and gender
10. Expand SPOON program to all dining halls on campus

Expanded List:

1. Increase funding for CAPS counselors while promoting diversity among CAPS counselors

It is ridiculous and irresponsible that the average wait time is 3 weeks to get a meeting with a counselor. In addition, I will work hard to increase awareness of these programs. Campus surveys showed 87% of students knew about the services on campus, but even of those students, many are dissuaded from setting up appointments because the long wait times and stigmas around getting help for mental health. At my high school, after one of my good friends committed suicide, I worked hard with and against the administration to increase the mental health resources and decrease academic stress, and by the time I graduated, several different programs had been implemented to help ameliorate some of the problems at my school. Furthermore, I will work hard to pass a joint resolution to encourage not only greater funding and higher wages for counselors but also greater diversity among the mental health counselors. The lack of diversity in the department can make it hard for counselors to help with the problems of students who come from very different backgrounds.

2. Textbook exchange system

I think students pay a ton of unnecessary money on textbooks. Stanford estimates that the average students pays $1,455 a year on books, and oftentimes scholarships or financial aid fail to cover the costs of textbooks, so this price disproportionately affects low income students. I want to set up a system where students can check out textbooks and return them at the end of the quarter, similar to how textbooks were checked out in High School. It would have to start off small and through textbook donations from students, but I think it could grow into something that would save students thousands of dollars through the course of their college career. The textbook rental would be free or minimal cost to students, and much cheaper than having to buy tens of textbooks every year.

3. Establish a community center for first-generation and low-income students

Around 15% of students at Stanford are first-generation, a greater percentage than the Latin@, Black, and Native American communities, yet FLI students don't have a community center for themselves. My dad came to Stanford from a very low-income background, and struggled to find a place at Stanford because he felt ostracized and inadequate coming from a poor family in Montana. If a community center was established for first-generation and low-income students, I think my dad's initial struggle to find a space in the Stanford community could be avoided with the establishment of a new community center.

4. Keep dining halls open during breaks

It is essential that students who don't go home over breaks have somewhere to eat. Students shouldn't be forced to pay hundreds of dollars on meals over break, especially if they can't afford to do so.

5. Establish mandatory quarterly dorm meetings to increase interpersonal dialogue about gender issues

Stanford has many effective programs and events relating to different gender issues on campus, which I think is great and needs to continue, but I think many of the people that most need to hear the messages put out during those events fail to show up to those events. In addition, as a white-passing straight male, the most effective way for me to understand the seriousness and prevalence of sexual assault and sexism has been talking with women that I know personally and hearing their stories. I want to implement mandatory quarterly meetings in dorms to talk about prevalent gender issues to increase awareness among men especially and increase honest communication between straight men and straight women and the LGBTQ community.

6. Standardize AlertSU Timely Warnings and have follow-up emails afterwards

The AlertSU Timely Warnings are a good alert system for students, but they lack standardization. Some emails are impersonal and lack links and phone numbers to resources for sexual assault victims, while others are much better. I think victims of sexual assault would be much better supported on campus if these alerts were more standardized and every one included resources for victims. In addition, the alert system should include a later message that provides closure on the matter. The AlertSU does not update the student body when the suspect was caught, and as a result, students can live in fear of a threat that might have already been resolved. This added stressor can be easily avoided with the addition of a follow-up email.

7. Keep close tabs on the Stanford committee that determines whether to remove Junipero Serra/Jordan/other controversial figures on campus

It is imperative that all students feel like they belong at this school, and I feel like some students' existence on the campus is constantly challenged when the names of oppressive figures in history are on signs everywhere you look. The removal of these names would be both a concrete and symbolic victory for those historically oppressed communities.

8. Secure increased funds for community centers

The community centers at Stanford are an integral part of student life, but the existing budget does not allot enough money to support the centers. Low wages for employees at the community centers lead to a higher turnover rate, which leads to a less cohesive community as a whole. I will fight to increase those funds and encourage the administration to allocate more funds to support the centers.

9. Allocate increased funds to VSOs that put on programs to promote understanding between class, race, and gender

The most important responsibility that the ASSU Senate is allocating funds for different requests from VSOs. In doing so, I want to focus on approving funding for clubs that want to put on events that will help promote understanding. One of the best things but most challenging aspects about Stanford is that people come from all walks of life. I think oftentimes certain groups have a hard time understanding the challenges that other people go through when they come to Stanford, so I want to make it a priority to ensure that events that can bring in more people into important and meaningful conversation about prevalent issues are well funded.

10. Expand SPOON program to all dining halls on campus

Stanford has done a great job the past few years of limiting food waste and making the campus more green, and the foundation of the SPOON program has done great things already. Expanding SPOON to all dorms would limit food waste to an even greater extent. In addition, I will support any and all programs that come to Senate to help Stanford become greener.

Thanks so much for reading and please contact me with any questions at cmcfaul@stanford.edu!

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