I would like to respond to concerns surrounding my input in Tuesday evening’s ASSU Senate meeting. Specifically, I would like to address our discussion of the clause of the proposed bill which read, “…controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.” Please note that, in penning this letter, I am speaking solely on my own behalf and have not consulted with any of the student groups endorsing my re-election campaign, nor did these groups inform or help craft the statements I made at Tuesday’s meeting.
My apology pursuant to our discussion of this specific clause wasn’t meant to trivialize present students’ offense but to acknowledge that, as someone who is not from a specific community myself, I am not in a position to determine what is offensive to members of that community. I do not intend to support or employ any language or tools that have historically been used to elicit hate and violence against a people, and do not support conflating harmful words about a people with questions about societal institutions. I recognize that the specific words and rhetoric with which we are dealing carry with them histories and significance and can ultimately be triggering for students.
I regret that my input may have had off-target effects and may hinder the meaningful progress we made in Tuesday’s meeting on the proposed legislation. It is unfortunate that the overwhelming majority of responses towards my statements has come from students who were not in attendance at Tuesday’s open meeting and that these responses focused solely on my words taken out of context and did not seek to explore or understand my intentions.
I like to think that my work on Senate this year — particularly my ongoing efforts to ensure relevant and competent mental health care for students — speaks to my convictions and to my good intentions. I hope that my work and goals as a senator confirm my concern for students’ well-being and my firm commitment to uplifting students on campus. What has principally guided my statements and decisions as a senator has been my understanding that our Stanford acceptance was not an invitation to accept things as they are, but an obligation to thoughtfully and continually revisit them.
I understand and respect the impact that student government at Stanford — one of the most far-reaching universities in the world — can have, and I take my responsibility as a representative of the student body very seriously.
Gabriel Knight ’17
Contact Gabriel Knight gknight2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.