Widgets Magazine

Etchemendy notes concerns over campus climate; survey to be conducted

Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D.’82 and President John Hennessy have both expressed concern for Stanford’s campus culture in the last day.

Provost worried by tone of campus dialogue

At Thursday’s Faculty Senate Meeting, the Provost made a statement on recent debates and protests within the student body, including the current ASSU elections.

“In recent months, I have been increasingly distressed by the tenor of discourse on campus,” Etchemendy said.

“Whether the issue is Israel and Palestine, sexual assault and due process, investment in fossil fuels, marriage and gay rights, black lives, or increasing disparities in wealth, we seem to have lost the ability to engage in true dialogue. Dialogue is not monologue times two. The essential feature of dialogue is not speaking but listening; listening with respect and then expressing, in turn, one’s own view with clarity, rather than volume.”

Etchemendy referred to ASSU endorsements made by student groups as a particular concern.

“I would like to ask our students which they would prefer: a senate composed of thoughtful, open-minded students representing the full range of student opinion, or a senate preselected to represent a filtered set of beliefs. If the answer is the latter, then I fear we have failed as a university,” Etchemendy concluded.

The Provost’s statement comes amidst heightened scrutiny of the endorsement process, following allegations that the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) engaged in an anti-semitic line of questioning when interviewing one candidate for their endorsement.

President requests feedback on campus climate

The Office of the President sent out an email yesterday to all Stanford Students informing them that they would be asked to participate in a 10-15 minute survey on Stanford’s campus climate. The survey will ask students about their perceptions of campus culture and safety, focusing on their experience with sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence, according to the email.

In order to assure the anonymity of participants, the survey will be conducted by an outside research organization. Answers will not be linked to participants’ names.

Summary results of the survey will be shared with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the federal agency responsible for enforcing Title IX, according to a link included in the email.

 

Contact Sam Premutico at samprem ‘at’ stanford.edu and Michael Gioia at mgioia2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Sam Premutico

Sam Premutico ’18 is a staff writer covering University and local news. A freshman from Brooklyn, New York, Sam has a wide range of academic interests, including biology and philosophy. When not in class or writing for The Daily, Sam enjoys solving crossword puzzles and playing for the Stanford Men’s Squash team. To contact Sam, email him at samprem ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Michael Gioia

Michael Gioia is currently the Managing Editor of Opinions at The Daily; he has also previously led the News division. He is from Plano, Texas and studies History and Modern Languages at Stanford. When Michael is not working for The Daily, he can generally be found reading or drinking coffee.
  • Sarah

    I think it’s interesting that the provost decided to comment on diversity in a student senate when there are broad improvements needed in diversity in tenured faculty, administration and mental health facilitators on campus. Also, it’s difficult for me as a student to believe in the sincerity of the concerns about campus climate when the administration has had a reactionary approach to real issues like sexual assault and mental health. Why has the provost chosen to speak on this matter now?

  • Random Student

    The optimist would say that we as students have finally caused enough of an uproar to get the University to pay attention and try to address these issues.

    The pessimist would say that the University is trying to quash the uproar and hope it goes away, so that it could ignore the issues again.

  • Alum

    I find the provost’s comments very hypocritical, specially the following,

    “Whether the issue is Israel and Palestine, sexual assault and due
    process, investment in fossil fuels, marriage and gay rights, black
    lives, or increasing disparities in wealth, we seem to have lost the
    ability to engage in true dialogue. Dialogue is not monologue times two.
    The essential feature of dialogue is not speaking but listening;
    listening with respect and then expressing, in turn, one’s own view with
    clarity, rather than volume.”

    I was at Stanford when a group of students disrupted G W Bush’s 2006 visit to the farm and when a group of professors protested in the most uncivil ways the appointment of Rumsfeld as fellow at the Hoover Institution in 2007. I don’t remember anybody from the administration – not the president, not the provost- raising the issue of “climate” and “incivility” when it was about bashing members of the Bush administration.

    I don’t know what “climate” the provost is talking about since I graduated several years back, but I read the provost statements as acknowledging the truth of Hosea 8:7 “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind”.

  • worried alum

    question is, is this really etchemendy/hennesy’s opinion or are they just mouthpiece for some of the deep pocket donors who might have their own personal stance on these issues?
    If etchemendy or hennesy actually feels this way, then its really messed up and not a good sign at all for the culture of open dialogue on this campus.

  • Alum2

    I was there for that protest and it’s not even remotely the same. An individual student’s personal views on Bush or Rumsfeld were never extended to their running for campus student body positions. You never had a group like SOCC saying “we won’t endorse this candidate for student senate because they support Bush” – or at least that wasn’t the public discourse.

    Now, you have students who are running for student body who want to make changes or do good for actual ON-CAMPUS issues that affect day to day life (eg allocation of funds to student groups, fixing mental health on-campus, etc) and they are getting blocked by a political agenda that has no impact on day to day life.

    This kind of political dealing with a student group sounds like something out of House of Cards. I cannot fathom trying to run for senate on a campaign such as “I want to increase availability of vegan food in dining halls” and then having to pander to some political action committee on an Israel/Palestine conflict 10,000 miles away.

    I feel sorry for these students and it’s tragic – so much energy is poured into meaningless ‘monologue’ and people who want to make real changes are blocked.

  • chill pill

    Unfortunately, watching all of these on-campus crusades (especially the divestment issues) unfold over the past two years makes me agree with Etchemendy’s sentiment. The siege mentality each of these student groups have built up seems to preclude any productive discussion

  • John

    Waving antisemitic accusations whenever divestment issues come up has been, in my opinion, more detrimental to actual conversation regarding these issues than anything else.

  • Alumn

    Whatever. As I said, I haven’t been in the farm for several years but what you describe is the type of harassment that people -students, staff and faculty alike- who do no hold liberal views have been suffering for years.

    Just ask the Anscombe Society at Stanford about their struggles to secure funding to organize their event.

    If you were a student supporting Rumsfeld in 2007, your only option was to shut up or else suffer the wrath of those professors who signed the petition https://web.stanford.edu/~davies/Rumsfeld-rally-remarks-1107.pdf .

    I have been in classes where conservative politicians and ideas were regularly ridiculed and attacked with no consideration that there might be students in the lecture hall that are offended by those attacks.

    Condi Rice herself declined last year to give a commencement speech at Rutgers for fear that things could get our of hand. The work of the FIRE on free speech issues at campuses around the nation focuses largely on attempts by liberal professors/administrators attempting to shutdown students who have a different point of view. Their work at Stanford dates back to at least 2008 https://www.thefire.org/cases/stanford-university-education-program-tries-to-keep-outspoken-student-from-enrolling-demands-access-to-private-blog/ .

    If the president/the provost/the administration have finally woken up to the monster they have helped enable, I welcome this letter as a first step in creating a culture that allows for true free speech at Stanford.

  • Alum

    I think your analysis is about right (the optimist). Let’s not forget that due to their age, the administration and most of the faculty are children of the rebellious 1960s. They are getting a little taste of their own medicine, which is why I don’t pity them. If they want to make an example of respectful dialogue, they should start honoring those in the Stanford community who do not hold views considered politically correct. The Stanford administration has practiced for so long what Charlton Heston rightly called “tyranny with manners” that forgot that with tyrants, it is only a matter of time they go “my way or else…”

  • MtSneffles

    I am pleased that the President and Provost have taken this step to better understand and perhaps start to mend some of the venom that has characterized recent campus debates, especially the BDS divestment movement. Hennessey and Etchemendy seem committed to ensuring that Stanford is a safe place for all and that listening and reason win out.

    The debate about divestment in particular is one that needs to change. It is commendable that some undergraduates feel the urgent desire to contribute in some way to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If only some of them would take the more difficult but far less zealously certain approach of studying the inspiring pro-peace movements that have come from both the Palestinian and Israeli center-left.

    Why be pro-divestment when we could instead be pro-peace? Why single out Israel when we could instead do the hard work of empathizing with the innocent people on both sides? I am dismayed that, at Stanford of all places, empathy and nuance seem to be in short supply at the moment.

  • Makshya

    Dear “chil pill,”

    Often, “productive discussion” ends in those with the power to create institutional change doing so little as to not compromise their own relatively convenience and comfort yet in hopes for the applause of being diplomatic. I think you mistake a siege mentality for student groups who are tired of “productive discussion” that ends up bringing little benefit to those groups themselves, which is a twisted idea of civil society.

    – Makshya

  • Obamaniqua

    How do these groups that refuse to engage in dialogue expect to bring about change on an institutional level? This isn’t a rhetorical question…

  • JMAR

    If you’ve have never received the infamous invitation to dialogue – then congrats! you reflect the values and legacy Stanford upholds or have been successfully silent. Student who express dissent have a history of being targeted, but the University administration has refined their approach.

    they used to simply denigrate your perspective from afar, now they have refined their approach to invite you to have dialogue in a closed meeting – just you +2 administrators, no friends, no support, no recording and no public transcript. you’re welcome to invite the ombudsman but he’s simply another tacit witness.

    see the refinement ‘dialogue’ affords

    Provost John Etchemendy – 2009

    ———- Forwarded message ———-

    From: John Etchemendy

    Date: Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 9:06 PM

    Subject: Re: Community Center Cuts…Please Read

    To:

    Cc: John Etchemendy

    Dear Ms _______,

    Our cuts were not across-the-board cuts. They were
    the result of careful consideration by the University Budget Group, which spent
    hundreds of hours over the last four months reviewing every school and
    administrative unit’s budget plans. I understand that you feel you
    are in a better position than this group to judge the fairness of Stanford’s
    budget decisions, in spite of your lack of knowledge of any other unit in the
    university. But you are wrong. I know that you believe
    that you, and only you, “know what it takes to keep students at
    Stanford,” in spite of the fact that many people at Stanford have been
    successfully doing this for twenty and thirty years. But you are
    wrong.

    I have a request. Print a copy of your message and
    put it in a safe place. In twenty years, take it out and read
    it. You will know then why I asked you to do that.

    Thank you for your input.

    John Etchemendy

    Here is the refined product of ‘dialogue’ – mimicry and mockery.

    On Sun, Apr 19, 2015 at 12:14 PM, John Etchemendy ‪ wrote:

    Manny, I’d really like to understand your perspective on these issues, but email is not a good way to do that. I’d like to sit down and talk, if you’d be interested. I could meet this afternoon or some time tomorrow.

    Would you like to do that?

    John

  • JMAR

    It is important that all students begin to accept that the University administration has been with impunity employing tactics that are intended to inflict damage to students it identifies as having“concerns”. It deals with them swiftly and decisively to clarify the student’s precarious stand on University grounds and it does so behind closed doors. Over the years and in the face of the occasional coalition or demonstration it has learned “dialogue” is a superior way to affirm its position without opening itself to scrutiny. The style of correspondence has changed – but make not mistake the intentional intimidation is still occurring – the student is individually signaled out for a closed meeting – just you +2 administrators, no friends, no support, no recording and no public transcript. It’s a clean decisive instrument – “I would like to meet with you to discuss your concerns” and the
    red flag is that a second administrator would also like to be present, “would you mind?”

    …….

    Provost John
    Etchemendy – 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: John
    Etchemendy 

Date: Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 9:06
    PM

Subject: Re: Community Center Cuts…Please Read

To: 

Cc: John
    Etchemendy 

Dear Ms _______,

Our cuts were not
    across-the-board cuts. They were
the result of careful consideration by the
    University Budget Group, which spent
hundreds of hours over the last four
    months reviewing every school and
administrative unit’s budget plans. I
    understand that you feel you
are in a better position than this group to judge
    the fairness of Stanford’s
budget decisions, in spite of your lack of knowledge
    of any other unit in the
university. But you are wrong. I know that you
    believe
that you, and only you, “know what it takes to keep students
    at
Stanford,” in spite of the fact that many people at Stanford have
    been
successfully doing this for twenty and thirty years. But you are
wrong.

I
    have a request. Print a copy of your message and
put it in a safe place. In
    twenty years, take it out and read
it. You will know then why I asked you to do
    that.

Thank you for your input.

John Etchemendy

Here is the refined product
    of ‘dialogue’ – mimicry and mockery.

    On Sun,
    Apr 19, 2015 at 12:14 PM, John Etchemendy ‪ wrote:

    Manny, I’d
    really like to understand your perspective on these issues, but email is not a
    good way to do that. I’d like to sit down and talk, if you’d be
    interested. I could meet this afternoon or some time tomorrow.

    Would you
    like to do that?

    John

  • Etchemendy has never said anything honest in his life. Look at his 180 on expulsion for sexual assault. As an MBA student whose education ended as soon as the School hearing began, I’ve seen the maggots of this administration up close. It is not about frats. It is not about ‘rape culture’–it’s not even rape, and it’s not a gendered issue. No one has ever been suspended for more than 1 semester for first offense rape. Yet last yer Jared Haftel GSB ’16 was found unanimously guilty for ‘just’ strangulation and was forced to take a gap year during which he worked at a hedge fund. Etchemendy has about two layers between him and the blood he spills, but the way he executes campus cover-ups and double-talk almost has a signature–like a ritual serial killer. I don’t think Haftel is an ‘evil’ person–I think he felt victimized by his first break-up and was certain he could get away with a vicious assertion of power.

    And why wouldn’t he think that? The School let him bring in $300k of lawyering in a completely opaque proceeding. I still scream at night from the fury and helplessness I felt as they ground me through the process.

    I feel terrible for Stanford undergrads–Hennessy and Etchemendy are scapegoating frats and putting out this kind of insulting lie. And…how are you supposed to have a dialogue when you’re being fed BS?

    My only advice is…don’t go forward. Stanford does not deserve your truth. Call the actual police. Get the rape kit done. Don’t even THINK about crying until you’ve done those two.

    And if there are any girls who think a false accusation is going to fuck up your ex’s life…think again. It will kill you first.

  • Josh

    I’ve never attended Stanford and I doubt I will, unfortunately.

    That said, I will bluntly say that this particular issue has reached nationwide status: there are two sides to choose from, and anyone who sits in the center gets to huddle between the heavy artillery of both the “correct” sides.

    Trust me when I say that it has as much to do with money from people as the flavor of cheese does to the color of the ocean.

  • Josh

    And what, pray tell, are these accusations?