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Daoud resigns from Norcliffe RA position

Norcliffe House. (L.A. Cicero/Stanford News)

Hamzeh Daoud ’20 has resigned from his Resident Assistant position in Norcliffe House, he announced in a statement to The Daily on Friday afternoon. Daoud’s resignation follows two weeks of controversy over a Facebook post in which he originally threatened to “physically fight” Zionists.

Daoud apologized for the impact of the original Facebook status — which was later revised to clarify that he does not actually support violent behavior — and wrote that he would step down from the RA position to focus on his academic endeavors and to “[process] the repercussions of [his] post.”

“I acknowledge the language in my first post had a strong negative effect on many in our Stanford community,” Daoud wrote. “I recognize how I was projecting my own trauma onto others in a way that is never acceptable.” 

Daoud also expressed gratitude to “everyone who has helped me through this, including the Stanford administration.”

University officials confirmed his resignation and supported the decision in a public statement.

“His decision to step down as an RA puts the interests of the broader community first,” the statement reads.

Demands to fire Daoud on the basis of the post’s text originated with a vehement statement issued by the Stanford College Republicans (SCR), but soon grew to a barrage of petitions, paid advertisements and even a legal threat to the University.

But quickly, other students fired back in defense of Daoud with statements and counter-petitions. Widespread concern about the College Republicans’ aggressive rhetoric toward Daoud emerged.

“SCR has been engaging in vindictive and harmful targeting of Stanford community members for years,” Hannah Smith ’20 wrote in a Daily Op-Ed. “While Hamzeh recognized the pain caused by his post, the SCR has never apologized for the students they expose to hate mail, death threats and cyberbullying.”

SCR posted to Facebook on the day of Daoud’s resignation, claiming “VICTORY!!!!” and crediting itself for seeing the “campaign to fire Daoud” to completion, despite the fact that Daoud was not actually fired. SCR noted in its post that the organization had “sounded the alarm, contacted countless media outlets, contacted multiple Stanford donors and alumni, and sent countless emails to Stanford administrators demanding [Daoud’s] removal.”

Also in its statement, SCR continued to attack what it referred to as “Leftist bigotry and hatred.” The organization thanked those who signed petitions, sent emails and even sought legal counsel to argue that Daoud be fired.

“This story supports the unsurprising fact that leftists who argue against racism and hate speech are actually the harborers of racist [sic] and hate themselves,” SCR wrote. “This episode speaks to SCR’s importance and UNMATHCED [sic] POWER as the ONLY campus organization willing to stand up to the tyrannical left.”

After an “extensive case assessment,” the University concluded that Daoud “does not pose a physical threat to other members of the community.” Publicized acknowledgement of the assessment — revealed in an unusual instance of administrative transparency — was made possible by Daoud’s consent, according to the University. 

The statement also acknowledged the magnitude of the post’s original rhetoric. 

“The effects of the original post have continued rippling through our campus community and beyond,” the statement reads. “There have been many expressions of concern for the safety of Jewish students at Stanford.”

In turn, this case has also raised concerns for Daoud’s safety. The University reported that Daoud has faced death threats as a result of this incident. 

“There is much work yet to be done to help our community work through the issues that have arisen from this episode,” the statement reads. “We are a learning community, and just as the author of the post has told us he intends to do, we must all work together to learn from it.”

The Daily sent SCR members multiple questions about the development, including one asking about their reaction to Daoud’s numerous death threats. The organization did not respond.

“I am also entering trauma-based therapy with the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at Stanford to help me learn how to regulate my emotions when triggered, and how to use my pain to build a new future, not just perpetuate old trauma,” Daoud said. 

In a joint statement, the Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford, Jewish Voice for Peace at Stanford and International Socialist Organization at Stanford criticized the University for failing to protect Daoud from “politically motivated harassment” from the College Republicans and other groups that galvanized the push for his removal.

“While Stanford claims that its priority is to protect students from violence, we reiterate that this campaign against Hamzeh was not a sincere response to a legitimate threat, but rather the coordinated defamation of a beloved friend, ally, and leader in our community,” the organizations wrote to The Daily.

Norcliffe Resident Fellows Jack and Nancy Kollmann, both professors at the University, said that they found Daoud “caring and inclusive” when they met him through the RA selection process.

“As this unfolded, we were hoping that he would appreciate the seriousness of his posted statement, respond maturely, grow from the experience and return to do his RA job well, for all students,” they wrote in a statement to The Daily. “But such a firestorm of criticism descended that our entire Stanford community has suffered, with Hamzeh himself receiving death threats. Although we are disappointed, we respect his decision to step aside.”

The Kollmanns said that the staffing position remains vacant.

“Presumably ResEd will help us find another RA, but frankly we’re not thinking about that just yet,” they wrote on Friday.

This post has been updated with comment from Jack and Nancy Kollmann, as well as the Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford, Jewish Voice for Peace at Stanford and International Socialist Organization at Stanford. This post has also been updated with comment from SCR.

 

Contact Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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