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Gabby Crooks, '23

Using my voice to create change

Getting into Stanford was one of the best days of my life. I rode that high for months, proud of achieving what had seemed to be an unattainable goal. 

However, the bubble throughout the rest of my senior year of high school was promptly popped the July before my freshman year at the university. There were reports, later confirmed, that a noose had been found on campus. 

As a Black woman, of course, this was devastating. But what hit me even harder was the university’s paltry initial response to the incident. Many students were not informed until days after the incident had occurred, and it was only with a push from undergraduate and graduate Black Voluntary Student Organizations (VSOs), as well as a resolution from three Black students on the Undergraduate Senate, that led to a more comprehensive acknowledgment of the event.

This incident revealed two things to me: one, my safety as a marginalized student on this campus was not guaranteed, and two, the student voice was often very powerful and could effect tangible change. I decided from that moment forward that I would be committed to using my voice to advocate for issues that impact the student body, which naturally led to pursuing participation in student government. 

I applied to the Senate Associate Program in the early weeks of the fall quarter, eager to have the chance to work directly with the senators. Over the course of my freshman year, I was able to learn so much about how student representatives advocate for the broader student body, as well as the many barriers they face in interacting with the administration. My participation in this program strengthened my desire to run for Senate, and in February 2020, I did just that. 

Running for Undergraduate Senate was a nerve-wracking decision, and I faced many doubts. Would my run be successful? Was I the best person to bring about change? If elected, would I be able to work alongside my colleagues to get things done? All of these questions, and more, ran through my mind over the next few weeks.

Yet, as I crafted my platform, I realized that I was the best person to bring about change because I was taking tangible steps to do so. My platform was centered around the support of marginalized students, and as I entered campaigning, my passion for this issue was corroborated by the student organizations that endorsed me. I was also able to collaborate with nine other candidates with like-minded values, and come election night, proof shone through that we were the right people for the job. 

My role as a senator has started with us hitting the ground running by passing a unanimous resolution to condemn police violence and anti-Black racism. We have done so much amazing work since, even throughout the summer, and I am so glad to be part of such a dedicated and effective senate.

While the incident that drove me to student government was not positive, I am grateful for the light it shed on the numerous changes the university needs to undertake—and the students who will be driving such change. 

Gabby Crooks, '23, is studying international relations with minors in human rights and Spanish. She is involved with the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Undergraduate Senate, Stanford Women in Law, the Black Pre-Law Society, and the Black Recruitment and Orientation Committee. She is currently a Cardinal Service Peer Advisor and a student assistant for Cardinal Careers. Gabby is originally from Germantown, Maryland.
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