On Oct. 30, FedEx stopped offering special discounts to members of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The decision came six months after over 200 members of the Stanford community signed a letter urging Stanford to not renew the lease for the FedEx Office in Tresidder Union unless FedEx ended the discount policy.
For the past eight months, Fedex has been criticized for its partnership with the NRA, after the firearm organization refused to walk down its hard-line stance against gun control in the wake of multiple high-profile shootings, including the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people in February.
The NRA is one of more than 100 organizations to which FedEx has cut ties, citing financial reasons. However, FedEx joins many other corporations, including airlines and banks, in ending its association with the NRA specifically.
Pressure to cut ties between Stanford and FedEx if the latter didn’t end the NRA benefits program began with Stanford Ph.D. candidate Jens-Erik Lund Snee M.S. ’13, who led a group of students in discussions with Stanford administrators and senior FedEx executives — including the CEO and President of FedEx — about the issue over the course of several months.
“I found it surprising that there was one … household name company that was still offering these discounts, even after it became obvious how harmful they were, in the sense that they encouraged people to join the NRA even if they didn’t necessarily agree with the organization’s goals,” Lund Snee said. “Seeing that big Fedex store right in the middle of campus and the heavy reliance that Stanford makes on Fedex was very frustrating to me because I believe that organizations that are an integral part of the Stanford community should be part of keeping us safe and contributing to a better community for us.”
The petition criticized FedEx for identifying NRA members as deserving special treatment.
“We don’t consider NRA members and gun manufacturers to be a protected class who warrant special protection,” the petition reads. “In fact, we find this view offensive considering that gun violence disproportionately affects people of color and victims of domestic violence.”
The petition also states that “Stanford need not damage its own image and our sense of community through close association with this unscrupulous corporation.”
In a statement, FedEx said that it “does not and will not deny service or discriminate against any legal entity regardless of their policy positions or political views.”
Initial attempts to compel FedEx to end the discount program were unsuccessful.
“I am grateful that the FedEx office executives took the time to email back and forth with us multiple times, but they made clear that they would not change their stance on their issue, even though we expressed the opinions of a large number of people in the Stanford community on the issue and just exactly how important it is to us and our senses of wanting to feel safe,” Lund Snee said.
However, after receiving backlash for several months, FedEx ended the discount program. The company cited economic reasons for doing so, claiming that inadequate shipping volume from the 100+ organizations who received discounts — including the NRA — made the discount programs financially inviable.
The decision coincided with increasing pressure from gun control campaigns, many of which Stanford students participated in. It also came at the heels of the Oct. 27 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead.
Not all Stanford students agree with the policy change.
“We’re very disappointed in Fedex’s decision to drop its discount program with the NRA,” the board of the Stanford College Republicans wrote in a statement to The Daily. “We think that capitulating to the left’s gun-grabbing, totalitarian tendencies reflects moral weakness unbecoming of a major corporation like Fedex. In fact, while we tend to oppose the concept of boycotts, we’d encourage all of our fellow patriots to consider their alternative options for package delivery.”
Lund Snee, however, expressed support for FedEx’s verdict.
“I’m just happy FedEx made the decision that they did,” he said. “I think it is going to be a very substantive decision. The incidents of gun violence have been increasing in our country, including on campuses, so this is an issue that is extremely important to all of us, and I am glad Fedex made the right decision on it, regardless of the reasons why they did.”
Contact Sophie Regan at sregan20 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Yusra Arub at yusraarub19 ‘at’ mittymonarch.com.