The ASSU Elections Commision announced this week that it will be opening applications for Senate positions to the students of Escondido Elementary School. The decision comes in response to record low number of applicants for the unglamorous positions, as well as a recent Stanford Daily article revealing the alarmingly insufficient knowledge some of the candidates have of the ASSU legislative process. The Election Commission hopes that increasing the size and diversity of search for new senators will result in a more qualified and engaged pool of candidates.
“This isn’t a panic move,” said sophomore Shelly Diaz, speaking on behalf of the Elections Commission. “There is always a low application rate among upperclassmen. We’re just trying out some new options.”
The article published in Wednesday’s Daily describes a pool of candidates who know little about the workings or even purpose of the ASSU Senate. One anonymous candidate was even quoted as saying that the Appropriations Committee was given “two or three billion dollars” annually to distribute to student groups, a number significantly larger than the actual figure of $300,000 that the committee controls.
“In my second grade class, we’ve been practicing estimation. Last week, everyone had to guess how many jelly beans were in a big jar,” said Ernesto Williams, a teacher at Escondido elementary. “Granted, estimating the budget of the ASSU is a little more difficult, but I’m confident that some of my graders could make a guess within a few orders of magnitude. Plus we did a unit in math class called ‘How big is a billion?’ so they all know that would be ridiculous.”
Mr. Williams also mentioned that his students had been learning about ideas like truth and falsity and literal speech versus exaggeration.
“At this age, children have a hard time telling when an adult is exaggerating, or even lying. We’ve been doing exercises to help the kids figure out, from context, the difference between what someone is saying and what they actually mean,” explained Williams. “So, for instance, when someone says they’re running to ‘increase transparency’ or ‘break down barriers,’ my second graders can tell that they’re really saying ‘to pad my resume’ or ‘for attention.'”
Even though Mr. Williams isn’t confident that any of his students will win a senate seat, he thinks that running will give the kids valuable knowledge about how slow and ineffective legislative bodies can be. Despite his pessimism, Mr. Williams would be excited if his students actually were able to win a few seats.
“Then when the ASSU Senate got nothing done, at least we would know why.”