by Kevin Roberts, ’13 + Alex Kindel, ’14
Organizing for Queer Coalition is undoubtedly one of the most important political and social responsibilities one could fulfill as a student for the queer community at Stanford along with working at the LGBT-CRC, being a QVSO leader, or just being an ally or out and proud LGBTQ person on staff in any dorm or in one’s day to day life—along with a host of other things. However, it is also, like most of those other positions, an exercise in patience and perseverance. I jokingly say that during the weeks leading up to ASSU election season I feel more saliently LGBTQ than any other time of the year because I get the honor of interviewing candidate after candidate who is misinformed, uninformed, or simply ignorant about LGBTQ identity and the diversity between the lived experiences that LGBTQ people face on campus. I also become greatly fatigued though because, even at Stanford—which I have had candidate after candidate remind me is a “really good place to be gay,” there still is much to do concerning the lives of LGBTQ people so that we can have access to equality and freedom between our heterosexual and/or cisgendered peers.
In light of this, every year, the Queer Coalition marches on into the fray of multiple endorsing bodies in the hopes of picking the best candidates for the ASSU. During one of the interviews this year in a candidates Q&A response section, we were asked, “How does Queer Coalition endorse candidates for the ASSU? What qualities do you look for? What do you think about and expect?” The answer to that is simple but the journey to such a candidate is much more nuanced. In each candidate who approaches us for endorsement we look for: (1) an intimate understanding with identity and their relationship to identification, (2) an intimate understanding of LGBTQ identity and (3) the way that candidate interacts with their own identity in relationship to LGBTQ identity and its complexity: including transidentities, queer people of color, queer women, and class in relationship to queer identity. Some may wonder why I am so comfortable answering that question; any person who lives in today’s digital age realizes that next year’s crop of ASSU candidates will each do a Google search of Queer Coalition and study this article like it’s the final exam to the CS106A final before their interview. I can say, with confidence, that reading this article will no more assist someone in gaining the endorsement of queer coalition than sending an email to one’s gay “friend,” or watching tons of Dan Savage videos the week before. Preparing for a queer coalition endorsement interview, in fact, is more about what one has done in one’s personal life far in advance of ever considering running for ASSU elections. It is very clear if a candidate has not thought about or been concerned with the lives of LGBTQ and marginalized people until embarking upon the endorsement process before the second question of our interview is fully answered. It is very clear if that identity acronym, “LGBTQ,” has only recently become important to them in service of their political interests.
Queer coalition is not interested in endorsing those candidates. We endorse candidates who show an understanding of the issues queer students face at Stanford, as well as a willingness and ability to advocate for queer students—which does not come unless they have already been involved in the advocating. We are not a training camp for the ASSU, and we cannot endorse candidates in hopes that they will be ready to serve, by some miracle, at the beginning of the next legislative session, that would be irresponsible as the members of our coalition VSOs look to their chairpersons to make the best decision. The Queer Coalition endorsement is a stamp that confers responsibility to and knowledge of the LGBTQ community on campus and much further. As such, the Queer Coalition endorses the following candidates for ASSU Undergraduate Senate: Shahab Fadavi, Garima Sharma, Lauren Miller, Nancy Pham, Branden Crouch, and Daniela Olivos.
From slates for the ASSU Executive, we expect more. In addition to understanding queer issues at Stanford, we expect slates to demonstrate extensive planning and organizational skills. Above all, we only endorse slates who will advocate exceptionally well for queer students across Stanford, and who demonstrate a willingness to communicate and cooperate with the Queer Coalition throughout the year.
We only endorse slates who have an deep recognition of their own personal privileges and are mindful of placing the service of office above the service of ego. Pursuant to those qualifications, the Queer Coalition endorses Zimbroff-Wagstaff for ASSU Executive. More than any other executive cabinet, they came to the interview equipped with knowledge about LGBTQ identity and its intersectionality. We have the upmost confidence in their ability to advocate for queer issues—and issues that affect non-LGBTQ students and all marginalized communities—in the university and behind closed doors in meetings with university administrators. We trust they will bring a unique perspective to the ASSU, and we look forward to working closely with them in advocating for queer Stanford students throughout the 2012-2013. We resolutely encourage you to cast your vote for Zimbroff-Wagstaff and each of our senate candidates on April 12-13, 2012 in the ASSU elections.
Alex Kindel and Kevin Roberts,
on behalf of the Queer Coalition
Queer Coalition is an endorsing body made up of Queer Straight Alliance, GradQ, La Familia de Stanford, Black and Queer at Stanford, and Stanford Students for Queer Liberation.
Kevin Roberts is a third-year undergraduate from Jackson, MS majoring in CSRE, concentration Institute for Diversity in the Arts, and Drama, concentration Dance, at Stanford University. He is writing a play tentatively titled Medusa in Drag. His primary area of theory and research is concerned with queer theory, feminism, critical race theory and the body. He is one of the two acting co-chairs for Queer Coalition this year.
Alex Kindel is a sophomore majoring in Symbolic Systems. Alex’s interests lie at the intersection of context, cognition, and learning; as an activist and a scholar, he is interested in how personal identity and intersectionality alter and affect learning opportunities on a cognitive level.