Widgets Magazine


Confronting baseless allegations: The SOCC endorsement process

Last night, the Stanford Review published an article levying troubling allegations of anti-Semitism and religious discrimination against the Students of Color Coalition. We are reaching out to the entire Stanford public to honestly and transparently refute these allegations.

The Stanford Students of Color Coalition came together in 1987, during a time when universities across the nation waged an attack on the salience of cultural and ethnic studies departments and de-prioritized campus diversity. Since SOCC’s establishment, we have naturally expanded our mission to advocate for and foster campus diversity of all forms — including thought, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, geographic origins, and religious beliefs.

Religious discrimination, like any form of discrimination, starkly violates the values on which the Students of Color Coalition is based. Were these allegations true, they would not only merit a public apology but also constitute a betrayal of both the communities SOCC represents and the ideas the coalition members promise to uphold.

However, these allegations are false; they do not reflect what actually transpired in the endorsement process and mischaracterize the aims of a SOCC endorsement. Out of respect for our values, trust in our endorsed candidates’ merits, and desire to engage directly with the Stanford community, we write to empower the public with more information about our endorsement process.

Every candidate that applies for our endorsement undergoes a rigorous vetting process, beginning with a written application. This year, we offered verbal interviews to all applicants, allowing leadership of our six communities to engage with every potential endorsee. In the interest of identifying students who could be effective and critically engaged senators, we looked for candidates who recognized the importance of celebrating identity, could articulate the nuances of the issues our communities deem important, and understood the significance of SOCC cross-community commitment.

We especially sought candidates who proved conscious and thoughtful about major issues pertinent to the greater Stanford community, including mental health, sexual assault, Senate transparency and funding reform. Since qualified candidates should display an understanding of recent Senate issues, we asked interviewees to expound on the way they might deal with issues that have come up within Senate this year.

Therefore, we incorporated a carefully-worded, standard question on divestment during the interview process. While all six member groups of SOCC endorsed the Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine initiative, we recognized that a wide spectrum of views exist concerning the issue. Therefore, we decided to ask candidates: If they had been elected Senators this year, how would they have handled the issue of divestment?

At no point was the question framed in the context of religious identification. Furthermore, our endorsement did not hinge on whether or not the candidates signed onto, supported, or would support Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine. By broadly asking how the candidate would “handle” the issue or ‘navigate’ the decision-making process, we hoped to hear answers fulfilling two major criteria, enumerated prior to all interviews: (1) a proposed action plan involving reaching out to all communities affected; and (2) a willingness to assume responsibility to make a decision. Our endorsed candidates exhibited these criteria while still expressing a diverse range of perspectives on divestment.

Similarly, allegations that any of our endorsees are precluded from affiliating with or receiving endorsements from other groups are unfounded. We reject the notion that religious or cultural identification might prevent someone from being an effective senator. Such a stance is in direct conflict with SOCC values.

We recognize such false allegations for what they are: the latest edition in a decades-long smear campaign* waged against our coalition, our principles, and our competency. We have endorsed students who understand the diverse interests and backgrounds of the student body and demonstrate great commitment, knowledge and passion for serving the diverse Stanford community. As you enter this election cycle, we encourage you to interface with our endorsed candidates directly; we are confident that you will find them as skillful as we did.

And if you — as an individual who shares our coalition’s aims of uplifting marginalized voices, honoring parallel experiences among diverse communities, and fostering student and faculty diversity — require more evidence that our endorsees will advocate for our aims, please refer to the contract that each candidate signed before receiving a SOCC endorsement. Through their commitment to maintain honest communication with our organizations, these candidates have poised themselves to act as our representatives, support our communities’ longevity, and consider and implement the interests of our community members.

*Examples of past Review articles regarding the validity of diversity written during election season. These are limited to links still live in the Review archives. Hard copies can be found in community center’s archives dating back to the paper’s founding in 1987. Why You Cannot Vote for SOCC [2013] Why I’m Dropping Out: A candid look at the ASSU elections process [2012] SOCC vs. SUN Headlines This Year’s Senate Election [2010] Special Fee Requests – The Bad and the Ugly [2009] Special Fees Reviews [2008] Special Fees: A look at this year’s Special Fee requests made by joint and undergraduate groups [2007] Editor’s Note: Vote Smart! [2006] Black Student Union Exploits Student Funding [2005] Stanford Students Say No to Racism | MEChA’s Special Fee Loss Step in Right Direction [2004] Stanford Uses Race in Determining Financial Aid [2002] Pounding The Nail in Horowitz’s Theses [2001]

The Students of Color Coalition

Contact SOCC at socc.app’at’ gmail.com. 

  • rab

    Nah, I think you’re wrong. Personally, I don’t have any reason to like or dislike any of these groups. I think they’re necessary and important. I support the missions of many of them.

    But, if we’re being honest, then let’s be honest: there’s a hell of a lot of antisemitism out there these days. I guess it was always there, but it’s out in the open again, after a relative break for a few decades in the West (genocide will do that). One of the key reasons it is out in the open is the immigration to the West of people who come from countries that openly publish and discuss antisemitic ideas. Another is that with endless attacks on Israel and its supporters in the media and academe, the constant demonization eventually leads many to start believing. Some take direct action. Others simply absorb and maybe let it slip out accidentally sometimes. And we have a physical permutation of this hatred in the form of the Israel-boycott movement – the divestment move at Stanford is a first cousin of the boycott movement – which is inherently antisemitic.

    That’s why a bunch of students who are active in BDS sat in a room at UCLA and spent many long, ugly minutes behaving toward a Jewish student in a manner that betrayed pure bigotry. That’s how a Jewish student at Temple got punched at an SJP table. That’s how a student at a San Diego university divestment drive recently tweeted some feelings that would have been in place in 1942 Nazi Germany.

    That’s why somebody spoke out of line to Horwitz. Why should Stanford be different? It’s not absurd enough that a number of minority groups – that include a “minority” of which there are 1.5 billion global adherents and 56 affiliated states – are targeting a tiny state created by a minority group totaling 13 million globally as a base for survival and self-determination? It’s not idiotic enough that with all of the obscene violence, repression, bigotry and hatred that we see all over the globe, it is Israel fighting those who openly call for its destruction that is the sole target on campuses everywhere? It’s not laughable that members of the NAACP, a group co-founded by a Jewish man and which has so much good work still to do in our country, are targeting the Jewish state and only the Jewish state for “divestment?” Or that Native Americans are involved in any way in this, despite incontrovertible evidence that Jews are indigenous to the Middle East?

    A young woman in this group let things slip for a moment. She probably didn’t do it intentionally, and at that moment it didn’t reflect on others in the room because according to Horwitz the young woman caught herself and changed direction. But she apparently believes what she believes and it came out. It happens. It’s ugly, and she should reconsider, but it happens. Just own it, apologize, learn from what happened and let it end peacefully. By covering up and denying, the group has taken a slip of a moment by one individual and turned it into a collective problem and mistake.

    Let’s conclude with one last honest assertion: the reason we know they’re lying is that along with their lawyer-like language that evades direct denial, nowhere in their letter do they mention Ms. Horwitz directly. That is because the same contempt they felt for her in the room during the interview is reflected in their letter.

  • Question Everything

    I knew I saw your comments somewhere before.

    As I said elsewhere, had you been on this campus you would know exactly who the signatories are – they are in no manner a secret.

    Why a generic response? Because otherwise this would be a 1 sentence opinion piece, composed entirely of: “All allegations of Antisemitism levied against the Students of Color Coalition are false.” Not that it matters at this point – all allegations were directly addressed and repudiated in person just a few days ago. More facts that would be known if you had been on this campus.

  • Question Everything

    The reason Ms. Horwitz is not mentioned is because the only thing they could say about her is “Ms. Horwitz lied.” They refuse to directly say that, to directly put out a condemnation of a fellow student. Instead they talk about the standard lines of questioning, because according to them that is what happened at the interview, that hers was nothing unique or special.

    We here can only speculate what happened in that room. So who is anybody in these comments to say that SOCC should apologize or that Molly is a liar? We were not there, yet everybody in this comment section decided immediately to believe one side or the other, based upon absolutely no evidence beyond the written word of either Molly or SOCC. So I must disagree with you that the interviewer slipped, because you do not know. And I cannot say with certainty that Molly lies, because I do not know.

  • Voice of Reason

    We need to put you on a bullhorn so you can say that all over Stanford’s campus.

  • ” For it may be that, unwittingly, they are inviting persecution — that they have been partly responsible for the antagonism from which they suffer.” ~ Winston Churchill

  • rab

    My comments stand. They don’t sign their names and they don’t address her complaints directly.

  • Rahim Moosa

    The answer is that Palestinians are being discriminated against because
    of their sub-race. This is true within Israel and in the West Bank.
    Indeed, in 1948 there was an official policy of ethnic cleansing
    (according to the definition of the state department) by Israeli
    leaders—see work by Ilan Pappe. So the problem is very ethnic.
    Another common thread is social justice in general. Those who are
    discriminated against for one reason (say sexual orientation) feel a
    natural sympathy for those who are discriminated for another (race,

  • Rahim Moosa

    From the letter above, signed by the SOCC:
    “Therefore, we decided to ask candidates: If they had been elected
    Senators this year, how would they have handled the issue of divestment?
    At no point was the question framed in the context of religious identification.”

    This is an unequivocal response by SOCC.

  • rab

    If she lied, they should say so. Considering what has transpired here, it is hard to accept the premise that SOCC is trying to protect Horwitz. There is another op-ed on this site by a former senator, a Jewish student who was endorsed by SOCC. He states that he was also asked about divestment by SOCC in connection with his faith during the endorsement interview. He wasn’t disturbed by the question, but he wisely points out that others shouldn’t assume that someone wouldn’t be offended. Since he was asked two years ago, doesn’t that make Horwitz’s claims much more compelling?

    I agree this is all speculation, even if we now have another student stating they were asked a similar question a couple of years ago. However, as I point out above, we are seeing enough similar events taking place on other campuses that it raises the bar for everyone on the boycott/divestment side. We can all be civil and polite and decent toward each other, but the bottom line is that across North American and European campuses one side has ensured that there is just one minority group that is dealing with the pressure presented through the boycott and divestment movement. Your response to me in the other conversation wasn’t satisfactory and I responded with several points, but for some reason the editors didn’t allow my response. Ultimately, you’re taking advantage of a rule here or there to justify the entire campus being involved in a fight over Israel, but that is precisely the point. No other groups are being forced to defend on an ethnic or heritage basis as Jewish students are. No other countries are being attacked. And, again, Israel is the only Jewish-majority state in the world.

    This would all make much more sense if its history or even its purported “crimes” were so heinous that they should all be a priority for us, but there are far more grave offenses presently and in the past by other nations and groups, without any of the exculpating reasons that Israel’s in the situation it’s in (for example, China’s destruction of Tibet and its people’s heritage despite never facing any threat, much less an existential one from Tibetans), yet only Israel is targeted and only Jewish students have to deal with the pressures of being connected by heritage, faith, ideology or family ties.

  • Disqusted

    And Jews are being discriminated against because of their ethnicity, but the SOCC doesn’t ask a standard question about divesting from countries which discriminate against Jews.

    Pappé’s hypothesis is far from conclusive among historians. The predominant view is that there was no official policy of ethnic cleansing and that West Palestinian Arabs had fled their homes for fear that they would be caught in the middle of a war. While there were clearly some rogue elements (Lehi, Irgun) fighting for the Yishuv, who committed war crimes from the Israeli side (most notably Deir Yassin) and who drove Palestinians out from their villages, there is no evidence that this constituted official Israeli policy and is the exception to the rule. One heavily edited, personal letter from Ben-Gurion to his son doesn’t constitute a “policy” on ethnic cleansing.

    Palestinian leaders have been publicly inciting violence against Jews since 1920. The political institutions of the Yishuv (and later Israel) had never publicly incited violence against Arabs. The elected govt in Gaza has as the central tenet of its charter the elimination of the state of Israel and the ethnic cleansing (if not outright genocide) of all Jews living in Palestine. Why ought the SOCC be concerned about discrimination toward Palestinians and ignore the genocidal intentions of Islamists toward Jews, Yazidis, Druze, etc. in the region?

    Your claim that those who are discriminated against feel a natural sympathy for those who are discriminated against goes only so far. When Jews desperate to leave Nazi Europe were crying out to the world, all of the countries (esp. British-controlled Mandate Palestine) enforced harsh immigration quotas, which ensured their doom. The only ones who seemed to care were their fellow Jews. Empathy goes only so far.

  • carol sanders

    Putting aside for a moment the question of what did or did not transpire at the SOCC vetting interview–

    The Israeli government and its supporters have been insisting for many years that criticism of Israel’s policies is anti-Semitic and that the worst manifestation of that anti-Semitism is support for BDS. Any now they are shocked — shocked!! – that some may have heeded their words and made the working presumption that to be Jewish is to be firmly opposed to divestment.

    It is Israel and its supporters who have created this anti-Semitic premise, and it is they who are now exploiting it to the hilt.

  • Maxine
  • Rahim Moosa

    You are right. There are Muslim countries which discriminate against Jews and Christians and that is wrong and unacceptable. We should speak out against that. I have before also mentioned the unacceptable persecution of the Bahai in Iran and the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan. But don’t tell me that Israeli leaders (secular and religious) don’t incite violence against Palestinians. During the Gaza war secular leaders talked of turning Gaza into a soccer stadium and religious leaders spoke about “Amalekiting” the Palestinians.

  • MtSneffles

    “Smear campaign” is one way to frame it. A more plausible explanation is that SOCC has a long history of overstepping and using unethical tactics to further what is unfortunately a narrow agenda.

    After SOCC’s brazen antisemitism this year, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for any of the candidates they endorsed. I am concerned that a SOCC endorsement of a candidate indicates that the candidate passed their test for advocating racist and simplistic positions that are harmful to meaningful, respectful dialogue and the furtherance of a supportive Stanford community.

  • MtSneffles

    I like what you’re saying here, but I still don’t think that excuses the type of questioning Horowitz was exposed to. There’s never a place for antisemitism.

  • AchillesAchillesAchilles

    Why there is such concern about such a small dirt pile at the edge of the Mediterranean when there exists a large attempt to conquer the planet militarily, now by ISIS, but also by al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, & Hamas.

    All who venerate al Husseini, al Banna, & Qutb, long for global conquest. This is so if only because of the specific importance laid upon Jihad by Qutb. Therefore, a more important matter than the rights or lack of rights of a group in a foreign country would definitely be the condemnation of any group that supports or is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. Is there any reason to suspect such a connection to any group in Stanford?

  • Dina Wilson

    Again, all based on the assertions that there’s no direct denial, when we can all read that there is. Why do they have to mention her by name? She was one of the candidates, if it’s true for all the candidates, it’s true for her. There is no venn diagram you can draw where their statement being true allows for the event to have happened as you’re assuming it did. That makes it a clear denial. If I say I’ve never eaten meat, I don’t need to specify that I didn’t have a steak at Ruth’ Chris on Tuesday last week. It’s a clear, categorical denial.

  • rab

    They have to mention her by name because it appears she’s the only candidate who complained and who has made allegations against them. It’s not hard to say, “Nina did not ask Ms. Horwitz any question that diverted from the script.” By refusing to address this directly and by pretending that they’re not responding to a specific complaint by Ms. Horwitz, they’re leading us to two conclusions: they have contempt for Horwitz and aren’t afraid to show it (which strongly suggests, as I said above, that they held her in the same contempt during the interview), and that they are hiding something behind language that a lawyer could parse.

  • Dina Wilson

    It is literally titled ‘confronting baseless allegations’. how are they pretending this isn’t a direct response? If you think they-re pretending that, it’s clear no one, not a single person, anywhere, was fooled? Seriously, where have you learned these conventions of communications you’re applying? No one here shares them. Maybe you come from some other environment, a different native language, a different generation? Nothing about what’s written here implies the evasiveness you’re claiming.

  • duck33

    John the old gang from cnbc is looking for you. They started a blog here http://burnercnbc.wix.com.usrfiles.com/html/6dafcf_c0ea8f6f66094d49e52c6b05627bb88c.html
    Tell them ducky sent you.