By Claire Wang
Stanford now faces increased external pressure in the push to fire incoming Norcliffe House Resident Assistant Hamzeh Daoud ’20, as Pennsylvania lawyer Jerome Marcus — in a Tuesday letter sent to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne — alleged that the University risks legal action should Daoud retain his position.
Writing on behalf of an unnamed Jewish and Zionist undergraduate, Marcus demanded that Stanford fire Daoud, citing Daoud’s now-deleted social media posts from earlier this year as attacks on Zionists and thus religious discrimination in violation of the Constitution, Civil Rights Act of 1964 and University Fundamental Standard, which provides guidelines for student conduct.
“If Stanford were to retain a person of Daoud’s temperament in that position after being made aware of his statements,” Marcus wrote, “Stanford will have clearly discriminated against Zionist students on campus, in violation of federal law and its own formal policies.”
At present, it remains unclear what legal action, if any, Marcus intends to pursue against either Daoud or the University. Marcus — who discreetly led the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit against former U.S. president Bill Clinton — declined to respond to The Daily’s multiple requests for comment on this and other issues raised by his letter.
“Regardless of the action the University decides to take, we are behind Hamzeh,” wrote Stanford Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) co-president Emily Wilder ’20 in an email to The Daily, on behalf of JVP and Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine. Wilder has also said that she is a close friend of Daoud’s.
University spokesperson E.J. Miranda indicated that the review of Daoud’s case, spearheaded by Student Affairs, is still ongoing as of Wednesday evening.
“We are aware of the various communications that have been circulated on this issue,” Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily. “We are not in a position to comment on them individually, but we understand the many expressions of concern regarding the issue.”
Daoud did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily.
Although Daoud has since closed his personal Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, Marcus’ letter includes images of deleted posts Daoud allegedly wrote earlier this year. Marcus claims that the posts are still “retrievable” and that they are “obscene and threatening statements against Zionists and Zionism,” thus rendering Daoud “incapable of according Zionist students at Stanford the respect to which they are entitled.” Marcus declined to inform The Daily of how he accessed the alleged posts.
The statement to Tessier-Lavigne demands that Daoud reactivate his social media accounts for University investigation and public review. As precedent for University action against Daoud, Marcus further cited the Graduate Student Council’s 2014 retraction of funding for the Stanford Anscombe Society, as well as the 2015 termination of on-campus housing for fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon on the basis of sexual orientation and sex discrimination, respectively.
He also cited this year’s controversial posting of satirical posters about U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement activity in student residences. Due to First Amendment concerns, the student involved was not officially sanctioned by the University in the aftermath of the incident.
“There is no legitimate basis upon which Zionist students can be distinguished from any other student holding views opposed to those of a Stanford speaker,” Marcus wrote, arguing that Stanford would have handed down a decisive punishment had Daoud’s comments targeted “black students, or gay students, or women students, or Muslim students.”
Recently, members of Stanford College Republicans (SCR) have circulated via email an imperative to contact University administrators in support of Daoud’s dismissal, specifically seeking out incoming freshman to “bolster [the] cause,” wrote SCR member Annika Nordquist ’21.
Paid Facebook advertisements calling for Daoud to be fired were also spread last week by the page See4Yourself, part of a pro-Israel campaign sponsored by the Israeli-American Council. The ads have since been removed, but See4Yourself wrote on Wednesday that it still believes Daoud crossed a “red line” in his posts and should be removed from his RA position.
Cody Stocker ’17 posted a widely-shared Facebook status criticizing the ads as “an attempt to rile up people in the community to attack a student.” Jonathan Engel ’17 commented on Stocker’s post, noting that Facebook users can report pages for harassment.
This article has been updated with comment from University spokesperson E.J. Miranda.
Holden Foreman contributed reporting.