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Stanford Review op-ed “Why You Cannot Vote for SOCC” serves no one

The Stanford Review took down a reactionary op-ed attacking candidates and communities of color from its website this evening, before republishing it less than an hour later.

The piece, “Why You Cannot Vote for SOCC” written by Jason Lupatkin ‘13 and published at some point today, was taken down within an hour of the piece beginning to circulate on Facebook and The Diaspora, at the request of Exec candidate Dan Ashton ‘14.

It has been reinstated during the time I’ve been drafting this blog post. (The original is here and the updated copy is here. A friend compared the versions online.)

“The Students of Color Coalition (SOCC), heavily influenced by radical liberal activists and operating behind the guise of “color” and “campus unity,” are supporting an under-qualified Gomez-Patiño, turning what should be an easy victory for Ashton-Gallagher into a close race riddled with misleading promises designed only to benefit SOCC’s special interests,” the summary for the piece read.

While the Exec candidate slate that both Lupatkin and The Review endorsed – Ashton-Gallagher – did not condone the piece, the concerns raised by Lupatkin’s writing demonstrate exactly why I am voting the SOCC line – especially for Najla Gomez and Elizabeth Patiño.

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“SOCC is not about color or campus unity.  SOCC is about the funding and furthering of a radical political agenda,” Lupatkin wrote.

While I would love to see the campus call for a radical agenda, this is far from the case.

We’ve seen the campus rally against the university takeover of Suites dining and Chi Theta Chi and the proposal of 8:30 am classes; but we’ve also seen profound silence from the larger campus on issues with more dire consequences – the university’s dehumanization and mistreatment of workers at the Stanford Hospital and Medical Center and our university’s complicity in documented human rights violations in Palestine and Israel.

The upsurge of popular student outrage and ‘activism’ over the past few months and years has fallen short of being radical in any sense of the term.

Demanding labor rights for all of the university’s workers and that Stanford be accountable to its own standards of ethical and responsible investment would not even be radical since they fall within principles that the university has set for itself and claims to adhere to.

While neither Executive slate has demanded labor rights or ethical investment, their responses to the idea of even considering divestment are telling and showcase why I support Gomez-Patiño.

To quote earlier reporting in The Stanford Daily on Monday’s ASSU Executive Debate:

“While Gallagher-Ashton and Gomez-Patiño shared similar views about the importance of improving the efficiency and relevance of the ASSU, they expressed conflicting beliefs on the ASSU’s role in decisions regarding divestment, with the former slate arguing that the ASSU should not be involved in divestment debates.

“The ASSU should not divide campus, but bring it together,” Ashton said. “I think that unless there is a general consensus, the ASSU should not touch any issue of international importance.”

Gomez and Patiño countered that the ASSU should facilitate debate about international conflicts such as divestment.

“We believe that if students feel passionately about an issue, they should be able to come to the ASSU,” Gomez said. “We should really be discussing issues that go beyond the bubble of Stanford and that really do impact us as students. I don’t think a complex issue like divestment is beyond the student body to comprehend and take a side on.””

The Ashton-Gallagher response indicates a refusal to challenge the administrative system – the exact platform on which nearly every ASSU candidate is currently running, while Gomez-Patiño demonstrate a willingness to take on an unpopular issue.

This willingness to combat conventional thinking towards the realization of some larger series of ideals is exactly what the campus is seeking when it speaks out against ResEd and 8:30 a.m. classes.

While I largely do not care about electoral politics and doubt the ability of the ASSU to affect meaningful change, if any candidate can do it, it’s going to be Gomez and Patiño.

Lupatkin spent part of his column delegitimizing the qualifications of Najla and Elizabeth and claiming that their experiences (with groups like El Centro Chicano, MEChA the Latino Sib Program, Latinos Unidos, and La Familia) create a “lack of diversity” in their backgrounds.

He then went on to note “That Ashton, a member of Sigma Nu, and Gallagher, the current president of Kappa Sigma, come from two extremely different fraternities on campus further cements their slate as the only one that can claim a perspective molded out of diverse experiences that best represents that of all Stanford students.”

As one student noted on The Diaspora, Lupatkin’s comments come in the context of a series of remarks about the legitimacy of communities of color during this election.

To delegitimize the significance of working with a centre like El Centro or with a progressive activist group like MEChA while privileging the ‘diversity’ of being from two different campus fraternities is one such example.

So is ignoring the fact that Najla, like Dan, also served on Frosh Council – a qualification that does not mean much in the context of the campus demanding a strong and demanding student voice to the administration.

And one final example is ignoring the work Najla and Elizabeth have done on the ground advocating for people without voices and working to build a better world.

Najla has been organizing for social justice issues since high school, and collectively she and Elizabeth have been involved in efforts ranging from Occupy Stanford, organizing for women prisoners, and recent 2012 campaign work including voter registration, Prop 30, and Prop 32.

There are less than two hours before the polls close and so neither my column nor Lupatkin’s will have much of an impact. It is important, however, to document the events of the past few days in The Review.

When I first sat down to write this, I thought I would be concluding by noting that it goes against nearly every standard of a news organization to remove a piece–even when it is incorrect, offensive or poorly written. I now conclude that while The Review did eventually put the piece back up, it still violated its obligations to its readers by allowing political pressure to justify taking the piece down momentarily.

I am glad The Review put the piece back online, but regardless of the outcome of this election, we cannot ignore the content of Lupatkin’s post.

The sentiments indicate concerns that are not just related to the ASSU, but to our entire campus ethos and making this place safe and comfortable for everyone.

If there’s anyone I trust to make this happen, it’s Najla and Elizabeth. I hope this campus does, too.

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Kristian Davis Bailey

Kristian Davis Bailey

Kristian Davis Bailey is a junior studying Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. A full time journalist/writer and occasional student, he's served as an Opinion section editor, News writer and desk editor for The Daily, is a community liaison for Stanford STATIC, the campus' progressive blog and journal, and maintains his own website, 'With a K.' He's interested in how the press perpetuates systems of oppression and seeks to use journalism as a tool for dismantling such systems.