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Letter to the provost: 226 Stanford Law students on Charles Murray

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Dear Provost Drell,

We, the undersigned members of Stanford Law School, write to protest the invitation of Charles Murray to speak on campus.

We believe it is important to allow a diverse range of perspectives to be voiced at Stanford. We fully support the principle underlying the Cardinal Conversations initiative: that “breakthroughs in understanding come not from considering a familiar, limited range of ideas, but from considering a broad range of ideas, including those we might find objectionable, and engaging in rigorous testing of them through analysis and debate.” However, in this case we find the principle does not apply, due not only to the nature but also the quality of Charles Murray’s scholarship. His 1984 “Losing Ground” and 1994 “The Bell Curve” (coauthored with Richard Herrnstein) misinterpret selective, uncorrected statistics and other faulty data to argue for the genetic inferiority of people of color, women, people with disabilities and the poor. This is the same thinking that motivates eugenics and the genocidal white supremacist ideologies that are enjoying a popular resurgence under the current presidential administration. But it is fallacious thinking. “The Bell Curve,” for example, has been roundly refuted and criticized by sociologists, psychologists, and political scientists alike. [1]

Charles Murray’s work has long been discredited by many, and we write not to further discredit him. We write, rather, to explain that his invitation is not an educational opportunity, but a threat. It sends a message to every woman,[2] person of color, first-generation student, poor and working-class person, disabled person and queer person that their presence at Stanford, along with their safety, agency and humanity are “up for debate.” As students across other school campuses have previously argued, “[w]hen you ask us to consider the other side of the argument, you are asking us to consider our assumed inferiority as a logical position. In no way does this consideration further our (or your) education. [3]

Please recognize that you are legitimizing Charles Murray’s beliefs when you pay him and provide him with a platform to speak at Stanford. In doing so, you ignore the real harm and pain inflicted on students under the pretense of promoting “free speech” and “open debate.” To quote one college professor reacting to the Charles Murray event at Middlebury, “It is strange when academics want to claim ideas matter, but then ignore instances where they truly do.”[4]

After seeing the “Racism Lives Here Too” flyers posted around the law school, Dean Magill sent us an email saying, “I recognized the pain those words provoked in students.” We similarly ask that you recognize the pain that Charles Murray’s words cause us by rescinding his invitation. Stanford is home to a number of conservative academics who are not white nationalists; replacing Murray with any one of them would promote the meaningful dialogue the Cardinal Conversation series seeks without the noxious baggage of white nationalist scholarship Charles Murray brings with him.

Respectfully,

Rebecca Wong, J.D. ‘19, Sophia Carrillo, J.D. ‘18, Caroline Cohn, J.D. ‘19, Emily Hong, J.D. ‘19, Hannah Matsunaga, J.D. ‘19, Daphna Spivack, J.D. ‘19, Michael Abrams, J.D. ‘19, Biola Macaulay, B.A. ‘16 & J.D. ‘19, Jacob Addelson, J.D. ‘19, Emma Schindler, J.D. ‘19, Alex Treiger, J.D. ‘19, Sarah Mahmood, J.D. ‘19, Meghan Koushik, J.D. ‘19, Danny Yadron, J.D. ‘19, Donna Ni, J.D. ‘19, Margot Adams, J.D. ‘19, Zachary Bleckner, J.D. ‘19, Monica Molina, J.D./M.S. ‘19, Ben Hattem, J.D. ‘20, Melissa Cornell, J.D. ‘18, Stevie DeGroff, J.D. ‘19, Catherine Porto, J.D. ‘19, David Cornell, J.D. ‘19, Fares Akremi, J.D. ‘18, Olamide Abiose, J.D. ‘20, Clare Riva, J.D. ‘18, Drew Flood, J.D. ‘18, Courtney Cronin, J.D. ‘18, Joseph Aronsohn, J.D. ‘18, Jean Richmann, J.D. ‘18, Juliana Goldrosen, J.D. ‘18, Mark Krass, J.D./Ph.D. ‘21, Kelsey Woodford, J.D. ‘19, Karmpreet Grewal, J.D., ‘20, Ishan Kumar, J.D., ‘20, Michael Clegg, J.D., ‘18, Juan Pablo Perez-Sangimino, J.D., ‘18, Savannah Haynes, J.D. ‘19, Gracie Chang, J.D., ‘19, Jasmine Miller J.D./M.Ed ‘19, Cara Sims, J.D. ‘20, Yanni Chen, J.D. ‘20, Nihal Shrinath, J.D. ‘19, Nick DeFiesta J.D. ‘19, Joshua Rosefelt, J.D., ‘20, David Huang, J.D., ‘19, Natalie Oveyssi, J.D., ‘19, Jonathan Berry-Smith, J.D./M.A. ‘18, Nicholas Eckenwiler, J.D., ‘20, Daniel Bernal, J.D., ‘19, Cameron Vanderwall, J.D., ‘18, Audrey Kim, J.D., ‘19, Hannah Coleman, J.D., ‘19, Sancho Accorsi, J.D. ‘19, Mondee Lu, J.D. ‘20, Jessie Yu, J.D. ‘18, Alexandria Gilbert, J.D./M.A. ‘18, Ashley Vazquez, J.D. ‘19, Victoria Munoz Torres, J.D. ‘19, Alexandra Willingham, J.D. ‘20, Claire Santiago, J.D. ‘20, Rob Underwood, J.D. ‘19, Samantha Gerleman, J.D. ‘19, Anjuli Branz, J.D. ‘19, Jyra Bickham, J.D. ‘20, Ashley Brooks, J.D. ‘20, David Oyer, J.D. ‘19, Willa Collins, J.D. ‘20, Cynthia Amezcua, J.D. ‘19, Andrew Longhi, J.D. ‘20, Noah Breslau, J.D. ‘20, Julia Ishiyama, J.D. ‘19, Gabriel Bronshteyn, J.D. ‘20, Adam Hersh, JD ‘18, Daniel Martinez, J.D. ‘20, Lauren Gorodetsky, J.D. ‘18, Elizabeth Callahan, J.D. ‘18, Gabrielle McKenzie, J.D. ‘20, Sarah E. Tully, J.D. ‘19, Rebecca Pottash, J.D. ‘19, Emily Anne Hayes, J.D. ‘19, Daniel Rios, J.D. ‘18, Heather Hughes, J.D. ‘18, Priscilla Hernandez, J.D. ‘20, Ray Li, J.D. ‘ 18, Gemma Donofrio, J.D. ‘18, Evan Kratzer, J.D. ‘20, Jordan Orosz, J.D. ‘18, Emma Eastwood-Paticchio, J.D. ‘19, Amanda McCaffrey, J.D. ‘20, Holt Alden, J.D. ‘20, Lincoln Mitchell, J.D. ‘19, Summer Azusena Wall, J.D. ‘19, Alyssa Martinez, J.D. ‘20, Peter Gilchrist, J.D. ‘19, Adrienne Liu, J.D. ‘19, Jared Crum, J.D. ‘18, Jessica Kapustiak, J.D. ‘18, Madeline Magnuson, J.D. ‘20, Isabelle Dietz, J.D. ‘20, Ariel Guerrero-Stewart, J.D. ‘19, Annie Shi, J.D. ‘19, Abby Walter, J.D. ‘19, Shelby Hart-Armstrong, J.D. ‘19, Katherine Kaiser Moy, J.D. ‘18, Viola Li, J.D. ‘19, Peter Vogel, J.D. ‘19, Yvette Borja J.D. ‘18, Tyler Bishop J.D. ‘20, Hyatt Mustefa J.D. ‘19, Eleanor Anthony, J.D. ‘19, Shizuka Tiernan, J.D. ‘18, Alyssa Zhang, J.D. ‘19, Makeba Rutahindurwa, J.D. ‘19, Daniel Brenner, J.D. ‘19, Sophia Whiting, J.D. ‘18, Sarah Gilmartin, J.D. ‘18, Tory Tilton, J.D. ‘18, Bryan Thomson, J.D. ‘20, Will Setrakian, J.D. ‘20, Carson White, J.D. ‘18, Gregory Van Buiten, J.D. ‘18, Robert Medina, J.D. ‘19, Allison Rothschild, J.D. ‘20, Tyler Jones, J.D. ‘20, Carly Hite, J.D. ‘18, John Bonacorsi, J.D./M.P.P. ‘19, Benjamin Haas, J.D. ‘18, Edward Nugent, J.D. ‘19, Thomas Butterfoss, J.D. ‘19, Julia Neusner, JD ‘19, Esther Yu, JD ‘20, Will Horowitz, J.D. ‘18, Adrian Vidaurri, J.D. ‘18, Santiago Pardo Rodríguez SPILS ‘18, Nicole Collins, J.D. ‘20, Helen Lawless, J.D. ‘19, Vanessa Guerrero, J.D.’19, Heather Durham, J.D. ’20, Rachel Green, J.D. ‘19, Savannah Fletcher, J.D./M.S. ‘18, Maria Jose Cordero, J.S.D. ‘18, Patrick Kennedy, J.D. ‘19, Sarah Rowan, J.D/M.S. ‘19, Allan C. Van Vliet, J.D. ‘20, Ben DeGolia, J.D./M.S. ‘19, Berin Senne, J.D. ‘19, Kyle Schneider, J.D. ‘20, Charlie Krem, J.D. ‘18, John Hazinski, J.D. ‘18, Joe Reed, J.D. ‘18, Erica Miranda, J.D. ‘18, Sarah Brim, J.D. ‘18, Claire McDonald, J.D. ‘19, Tara Rangchi, J.D. ‘18, Michael Hoosier, J.D. ‘18, Michael Moorin, J.D. ‘20, Neil Damron, J.D. ‘20, Kelsey Townsend, J.D. ‘18, James Davidson, J.D. ‘19, Fernando Berdion-Del Valle, J.D. ‘20, Jon Collier, J.D. ‘19, Jan Tyls, LL.M. ‘18, Devon Gray, J.D. ‘19, Taylor Williams, J.D. ‘19, Aaron Forbath, J.D. ‘18, Ari Hoffman J.D. ‘19, Melissa Monaghan J.D. ‘19, Erika Hoglund, J.D. ‘19, Marjory Marquardt J.D. ‘20, Caroline Hirst, J.D. ‘20, Kathryn Harris, J.D. ‘18, Emily Hawley, J.D. ‘19, Julia Rabinovich, J.D.. ‘12, Jennifer Chang Newell, J.D. ‘03, Lin Yee Chan, J.D. ‘07, Will Orr, J.D. ‘19, Zachary Krowitz, J.D. ‘19, Natalie Peelish, J.D. ‘19, Aletha Smith, J.D. ‘20, Michael Levin, J.D. ’19, Sam Martin, J.D. ‘18, Allyn Rosenberger, J.D. ‘20, Tiffany Lieu, J.D. ‘18, Derin McLeod, J.D. ’20, Brynne O’Neal, J.D. ‘19, Nina Monfredo, J.D. ‘18, Daniel Rubin, J.D. ‘20, Maddy Bullard, J.D. ‘20, Isabella Sayyah, J.D. ‘19, Anthony Gutierrez, J.D. ‘19, Allison Morse, J.D. ‘18, Serena Saffarini, J.D. ‘20, Kristina Alekseyeva, J.D. ‘18, Katherine Worden, J.D. ‘20, Allison Wettstein O’Neill, J.D. ‘20, Leon Cain, J.D. ‘19, Juan Antonio Oposa, LLM ‘18, Julia Philips Roth, J.D. ‘18, Liza Starr, J.D. ‘20, Thomas Davidson, J.D. ‘19, Kevin Nguyen, J.D. ‘18, Katie Takakjian, J.D ‘18, Amanda Rubin, J.D. ‘16, Katie Kelsh, J.D. ‘18, Carra Rentie B.A. ‘17 & J.D. ‘20, Victor Xu, B.A. ’17 & J.D. ’20, Michaela Ross, J.D. ‘20, Leah Yaffe, J.D. ‘18, Arjun Shenoy, J.D. ‘19, Aaron Bray, J.D. ‘19, Autumn Bordner, J.D./M.S. ‘19, Sarah Dohan, J.D. ’20, Jaclyn Freshman, J.D. ‘20, Katherine Carey, J.D. ‘19, Brianna Liang Velasco, B.A. ‘14 & J.D. ‘18, Elena Mercado Rodriguez, J.D. ‘18, Mary Hwang, J.D. ‘20, Nathan Fennell, J.D. ‘20, Britany Riley, J.D. ‘19, Matt Cofer, J.D. ‘19, Tyrik D.F. LaCruise, J.D. ‘20, Rachel Boochever J.D. ‘18, Javier Alvarez-Oviedo, J.D. ‘18, Sarah Craig, J.D. ‘19, Victoria Noble, J.D. ‘20

 

Notes

1 See, e.g., Goldberger, Arthur S., and Charles F. Manski. Review Article: The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray. 33 JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC LITERATURE 762 (1995), www.jstor.org/stable/2729026.

2 See, e.g., Charles Murray, Where Are the Female Einsteins?, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE, https://www.aei.org/publication/where-are-the-female-einsteins/ (last visited Feb. 15, 2018).

3 We Do Not Have to Justify Our Place at Middlebury, BEYOND THE GREEN: COLLECTIVE OF MIDDLEBURY VOICES, https://beyondthegreenmidd.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/we-do-not-have-to- justify-our-place-at-middlebury/ (last visited Feb. 15, 2018).

4 Linus Owens, Coming Together and Coming Apart, MIDDBEAT.ORG, http://www.middbeat.org/2017/03/07/coming-together-and-coming-apart-by-professor-linus-owens/ (last visited Feb. 15, 2018).