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Letter to the Editor: On Dinesh D’Souza

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To the Editor:

This week, we are confronting once again the issues raised when controversial speakers are invited to campus by student groups.

To any outside speaker coming to Stanford, now or in the future, we say the following: You are coming to a community at Stanford that deeply values robust, fact-based intellectual exchange. We are a community that rejects attacks on people or groups based on their identities. We value and support each and every member of our community, of every background. And we hope that in engaging with members of our community, you will seek to advance the reasoned inquiry and thoughtful discussion to which we aspire.

To our community: We reiterate that Stanford deeply values both diversity of thought as well as the dignity of all peoples. We know all too well that some expression can be, and has been, deeply hurtful to members of our community. The two of us heard this directly last Thursday, when we met with a number of students deeply concerned about the event with Dinesh D’Souza being hosted this week by the Stanford College Republicans, and, in particular, about statements Mr. D’Souza has made in the past that are demeaning to people of certain beliefs and identities. 

The University has articulated principles that seek to advance both dialogue and inclusion in our campus community. Among those principles, our commitment to diversity of thought means that when student groups genuinely wish to hear from an outside speaker, the University works to support their efforts as long as institutional policies are followed. Campus bodies such as the ASSU also engage and follow their own procedures for allocating funding for such events.

This is a difficult space to navigate, not only for our campus but for our country as a whole. Challenging discussions in our community call upon each of us to heighten our care and concern for one another, and to redouble our own efforts to model the kind of discourse that leads to greater understanding, not division. By engaging in these ways, we put into action our resolve to respect and uplift all peoples, within our community and beyond. Nothing will shake us from this commitment.      

 

Persis Drell, Provost

Susie Brubaker-Cole, Vice Provost for Student Affairs