On April 29, The Stanford Review yet again assumed its role as Stanford’s instigator-in-chief by publishing a tirade (by two writers who are apparently not to be conflated with The Review “as an institution” in any way) complaining about a mostly silent protest staged by fellow students urging the administration to declare this University a sanctuary campus.
It is no secret that I generally do not agree with The Review on most matters, including here, where I disagree with the writers’ stance on campus activism – and that, really, is a difference of opinion. But, what is more perverse about this article is the callously nonchalant erasure of the concerns of undocumented students from their discussion of a protest about the interests and rights of those students.
Most emblematic of this is the following determination: “The activists claimed that the protest was meant to hold Stanford ‘accountable.’ It wasn’t clear, however, who exactly the University is supposed to be accountable to.”
This is, in all honesty, perhaps the single most baffling thing I have ever seen The Review publish. Regardless of whether one agrees with the protesters or not, it seems objectively clear to whom the protesters are demanding the University be accountable – undocumented students. Agree or disagree with the activist position, it seems incredibly irresponsible for these writers to not even attempt to understand such a basic part of the issue at hand; not addressing the fate of our fellow Stanford students who are at risk of deportation seems grotesquely dismissive.
And indeed, dismissiveness seems to be the general theme of the entire piece. “Stanford should certainly put its students first – but not ahead of the law,” The Review declares in an inherently contradictory statement that is effectively stating that Stanford should put students second. The piece warns that “by declaring itself a sanctuary campus, Stanford would be risking the loss of billions of dollars of funding for invaluable research that pushes the horizons of human achievement and saves lives,” which is a nice turn of phrase that is so broad and nebulous that it has no meaning. The writers here seem to be absolutely fine with saving lives in the abstract, but as to their actual fellow students whose lives would undoubtedly be harmed by deportation, they make absolutely no mention in the entire article. To them, the term “sanctuary campus” has no connection to human lives, to the very people who study with them, who work with them, who teach them and who toil to keep their residence halls clean, their stomachs fed and their quads landscaped. To them, the term “sanctuary campus” is just a “dubious legal moniker” and a “political fad.” The entire debate seems like a game, a farce, something that could be “debated” without ever considering the real-life consequences in our community.
While the administration has not declared Stanford a sanctuary campus, it has released a statement reiterating Stanford’s support for “the ability of undocumented students to continue their studies at Stanford and earn a degree.” However, these writers are in no way inclined to join suit. Instead, they outright reject the notion that “all immigrants are welcome here.” It doesn’t matter if you are so brilliant and accomplished. It doesn’t matter if you were able to overcome the myriad obstacles of being undocumented in America (something the authors of this piece seem to know nothing about) so that you could earn yourself a place in one of the finest and most selective universities in the world. It doesn’t matter – if you are unable to overcome an ultimately arbitrary technicality of “American legal jurisprudence,” you are not welcome here like other immigrants or other students are, according to the arguments put forth in this article.
When each one of us enrolled at Stanford, we bound ourselves to the Fundamental Standard, which begins:
“Students are expected to respect and uphold the rights and dignity of others regardless of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic status.”
I can only hope that the next time The Review discusses these issues, their writers will be more empathetic and respectful of everyone in the Stanford community, regardless of immigration status.
Contact Terence Zhao at zhaoy ‘at’ stanford.edu.