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Coalition of Concerned Students: Statement on Ben Shapiro

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Another year of white supremacy, xenophobia and bigotry on Stanford’s campus. Another year of student outrage and disapproval. Another year of Stanford’s administration refusing to listen to its marginalized students as we beg the institution to stop providing a platform for fascist talking heads to stand upon.

Another year of disappointment, but not surprise, as the administration continues to confound the values of open discourse and the perpetuation of unchallenged violent speech. Ben Shapiro depends on being given a podium to speak unchallenged and then engaging in “debates” with those who disagree with him without a moderator so he has the upper hand. This is where Shapiro is most comfortable — where he can cut soundbites for his media outlet’s YouTube channel of himself “owning the libs” on college campuses. This is not discourse or open dialogue; it is unchallenged perpetuation of an ideology, the very concept which SCR claims to be fighting against.

However, our protest is not about SCR’s right to free speech; it is about the violence that Ben Shapiro’s hateful, dehumanizing ideas incite against members of our community. Many of our lives are the exact ones Shapiro’s hateful speech galvanizes violence against, our bodies the antithesis to his beliefs. Shapiro teaches his white supremacist social media following that Black Americans are disproportionately locked up because of their culture; that people of Arab descent “like to bomb crap and live in open sewage”; that Palestinians need to be subjected to forced population transfer; and that transgender people are inherently “mentally ill.” Shapiro says his beliefs are rooted in facts, not feelings, but there’s not a single fact in sight — only clear and blinding white supremacy.

Past speakers invited by SCR have been directly connected to acts of hate and violence against students on this campus. Last year, several students who called out Dinesh D’Souza were doxxed and received hate mail online. Students were endangered in the same way prior to Robert Spencer’s event. These events are not about creating dialogue; they are about intimidating dissent.

Through a silent protest we will be a unified front. We practice civil disobedience through the refusal to allow Shapiro’s talk to go uninterrupted. We practice nonviolent resistance through a refusal to interact in the inciting ways that white supremacists want us to act. In our protest we will not speak words, but it is not the only form of our protest. With the signs we will hold, this op-ed, and an additional written statement, we provide language and context for our action. At the same time, our action does not need words. We place our bodies directly against this harmful event and these harmful people.

By repeatedly inviting speakers who incite violence against some of Stanford’s most marginalized communities, the administration actively sends the message that only certain students, communities, and types of dialogue are valued on this campus. We have chosen to protest this event in silence because we have spoken year, after year, after year only to have our demands ignored. Marc Tessier Lavigne, Persis Drell, Susie Brubaker Cole — we are exhausted. Your silence is earsplitting. To SCR, we build upon the work of student activists at USC when we say: we do not protest because we are too sensitive to hear opinions we don’t like. We protest because we are strong enough to defend ourselves.

—Coalition of Concerned Students

The Coalition of Concerned Students is a diverse group of Stanford students and student organizations. We ground our ideologies in working against white supremacy, fascism, and systems of oppression wherever they exist. Through this commitment, we aim to disrupt the culture of apathy that upholds an oppressive status quo, envision alternatives, and sustainably campaign for tangible wins in partnership with marginalized people. We represent anti-racist, LGBTQ, gender-liberation, ethnic-themed, and political groups across campus, including: Students for the Liberation of All People, Black Student Union, Asian American Students Association, Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, Young Democratic Socialists of America, the Nigerian Students Association (Naija), Stanford Asian American Activist Coalition, Las Hermanas de Stanford, Hui o Nā Moku, and many others.