Staffers of The Stanford Chaparral, a campus humor magazine, have been excluded from their office since Nov. 28 in an ongoing dispute with Student Activities and Leadership (SAL), according to the Chaparral’s Co-Editor in Chief Kian Ameli ’13.
The Chaparral has occupied rooms 104 and 105 in the Nitery since 2005, when staff members signed a contract with Vice Provost of Student Affairs Greg Boardman. According to Ameli, the contract states that the Chaparral’s staff can occupy the office as long as the magazine publishes new issues and staff members do not “egregiously violate expected conduct.”
Ameli said that SAL first became concerned with potential shortcomings in conduct after an alcohol-related incident at the Chaparral’s office on Nov. 7.
“One of our members had come into the office and he had been drinking recklessly,” Ameli said. “He was found there in the morning by the custodial staff. That obviously created a great deal of concern for SAL.”
After the office was broken into over Thanksgiving break — and SAL administrators discovered that the door code had not been changed in eight years — they changed the code to lock out Chaparral staff members.
“That issue was sort of conflated with the earlier one involving our member [in November],” Ameli said. “[SAL] decided that we would be suspended from the office until a few other conditions were met.”
SAL Director Nanci Howe and Lee Connor, senior administrative officer for the Vice Provost of Student Affairs, both declined to comment.
Ameli met with Director of Operations and Student Unions Jeanette Smith-Laws and Howe at the beginning of winter quarter, in a meeting at which the Chaparral’s return to the office was linked to writing a formal document binding the Chaparral’s staff to observing University policies, including the Stanford Student Alcohol Policy. The document would also establish a protocol for communication between the Chaparral and administrators to minimize confusion over expectations for staffers.
“There were a lot of policies that were said to be in place that never were,” Ameli said. “Not University policies but specific building things or things that we weren’t really clear had ever existed or we were pretty sure hadn’t ever existed but we were being told that they had.”
According to Ameli, The Chaparral was also asked to create an office management plan, with Smith-Laws and Howe describing the office as “filthy” and advancing a “culture of messiness.”
While Ameli said that the Chaparral expects to regain access to the offices early this quarter, he complained that the lengthy exclusion had detrimentally affected the staff’s writing process and complicated scheduling meetings.
“Especially with something like humor writing, it’s a drawn out, collaborative process, and there needs to be a central place where we’re meeting at,” Ameli said. “Meeting in somebody’s room or in a computer cluster where people could be working isn’t really best suited to telling jokes.”
Ameli also expressed dissatisfaction with the University’s handling of the situation, questioning whether appropriate protocol had been observed before Chaparral staffers were barred from the office.
“The problem is that there was no due process in this decision,” Ameli said. “It was very unilateral and there hadn’t been a hearing at the point at which they suspended us from the office.”
Although two hearings have since taken place – on Feb. 20 and on March 6 — the panel’s findings are confidential and have yet to be approved by Dean of Student Life Chris Griffith, according to Ameli.