This op-ed is in response to the recent discussions by the Stanford student body surrounding Stewart MacGregor-Dennis ’13, a candidate for ASSU Executive and the current ASSU Vice President. I am glad that the overwhelming statements and comments that I have received have been in opposition to the recent “Star Wars”-related email and its deeply personal attacks against Stewart.
Historically, Stanford student body politics have not been personal. When the Stanford student body has had a disagreement, the disagreement has usually been on an issue of substance, whether on ROTC, stipends, or ASSU-University relations, disagreements have usually been played out in well-thought and well-researched argument. I am sad to say that I can no longer praise the Stanford student body and its rich civic dialogue; we have descended into petty rehashings of who tweeted what.
However, we are all culpable for that email, and any negative consequences it may have. All of this Stewart-bashing started out relatively harmless; I’ll admit, I definitely smh’d at the lifehacking op-ed as well. Nevertheless, every single time that we joked about Stewart made it more okay for someone else to push the joking a little bit further. While only some Stanford students were directly involved in sending these attacks, we are all responsible for having created a Stanford community where it was okay to personally criticize another student publicly. Someone took it to another level – one where personal attacks on another student’s mental health were publicized for the campus to see.
In the future, I ask us, the Stanford student body, to reflect on our actions before we take them. As a school of some of the smartest and most driven individuals in the nation, many of us have been bullied at some time or another. I was bullied often as a child; my family and friends helped me through that period of my life, but that didn’t make it any easier. Our actions have consequences and our words matter. Please consider the negative psychological impact that what you say can have on someone else.
Thank you for your time and this chance to serve you. It has been an honor to serve the Stanford student body, and I wish the best of luck to whoever succeeds me.
Michael Cruz ’12
ASSU President 2011-12