By Melanie Zhou
After protests erupted across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, an anonymous student launched the Instagram account @dearstanford_ to create a space for amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students. As of Friday, the page features over 50 posts calling attention to negative experiences students belonging to marginalized identities have faced when interacting with Stanford faculty, policies, athletics and student organizations.
“There can no longer be denial of what BIPOC students go through because Stanford is being called out in every single post,” said @dearstanford_’s owner, an undergraduate student at Stanford who wished to remain anonymous due to the nature of the page.
University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily that the University is “actively engaged” with Stanford student groups on issues of equity and racial justice.
“We realize that, as an institution, Stanford must continue to evolve to become a more inclusive and equitable campus community and we are committed to that goal,” Miranda wrote.
The account has accumulated over 2,000 followers since its first post on June 30, the same day President Marc Tessier-Lavigne published his statement to the community regarding racial justice.
@dearstanford_ allows members of the Stanford community to submit anonymous posts through direct messages or an online form. The account is modeled after the national Instagram account @dearpwi (Dear Predominantly White Institutions).
The owner of the @dearstanford_told The Daily that the account aims “to be an uncontested platform where BIPOC at Stanford can share their experiences and have a space where it is recorded.”
After the federal government released an ICE directive endangering the visas of international students at Stanford in early July, which has since been rescinded, @dearstanford_ published an anonymous submission stating “No one cares about international students and it really shows.”
The account also promoted the Stanford-led #Students2Stay movement that supports students at risk of detainment, deportation and visa complications and advertised a petition to support the international community.
Allegations against Greek life
Many anonymous @dearstanford_ posts have alleged Greek life to be one of the most problematic institutions on campus.
@dearstanford_’s first anonymous poster wrote, “I challenge people in white Greek life to take a hard look at their social circles, and ask themselves if they actually value BIPOC, or just say they do to be performative.”
Another poster wrote, “Greek life has no place on campus — not when it continues to perpetuate racism, classism, and colorism.”
Representatives from the Stanford Interfraternity Council wrote in a statement to The Daily that the Greek community “is working to address” such issues, pointing students to a survey sent by Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole to the student body soliciting stories, concerns and suggestions for Greek working groups.
“Rather than draw attention away from BIPOC and queer voices at this time, we instead want to take this opportunity to lend our ears to these communities,” the Interfraternity Council wrote.
Stanford’s Intersorority Council (ISC) directed The Daily to the same survey and described ongoing initiatives to create diversity, inclusion and accessibility officers in ISC organizations and further develop their Women of Color Collective.
“We do not wish to detract from the validity of the experiences posted on @dearstanford_ … they are valid and they are why we should continually reflect on the values of our organizations and work towards a better future,” the ISC wrote.
Miranda wrote that “our Greek-letter organizations are working to address issues of diversity, inclusion, well-being, community values and harm reduction education and response in the areas of sexual violence and substance abuse.”
Lack of diversity among faculty
The issues highlighted on the @dearstanford_ account have also been raised on the other 45 accounts modeled after @dearpwi across the country. The national account has over 29,500 followers.
One of the co-moderators of the national @dearpwi account, a student at another university who wished to remain anonymous due to the nature of the account, told The Daily in an interview that many white students ignore “histories that perpetuate racial injustice.”
“And some of these people who perpetuate this ignorance are professors and administrators,” the co-moderator continued. “How can a student feel safe in explaining their truth when the people in power around them gaslight their experience?”
The co-moderator said that they hope to get schools like Stanford to sign on to their code of conduct, which demands institutions hire a diverse faculty and adopt a race, class and privilege requirement into their curriculum, among other recommendations.
“To anyone who holds a position of power at Stanford, be honest with yourself and with your students. We see you,” said the owner of @dearstanford_. “Stop making Black and Brown students fight tooth and nail to get a single ounce. Rely less on the labor of Black and Brown students when it comes to doing things that you should be doing. This should not be our job.”
Miranda wrote, “The University strives to create an environment in which all community members are able to live, learn and work without fear of racism, discrimination, intolerance, and other forms of bias.”
Miranda referred The Daily referred to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s statement on advancing racial justice and the creation of a Community Board on Public Safety that aims to build trust between Stanford’s Department of Public Safety and the broader campus community.
Allegations against Stanford Athletics
In the last few weeks, @dearstanford_ has also featured several posts about Stanford sports teams like baseball, football and lacrosse. One poster called a Stanford team “incredibly racist and sexist.”
Miranda wrote that Stanford Athletics is “committed to fostering an inclusive environment that promotes sustained and lasting racial equity and reform.”
He described Stanford’s engagement with its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and supported the formation of a Black student-athlete working group called CardinalBLCK.
Miranda also encouraged students to report specific concerns to the Office of Community Standards, the Diversity and Access Office, the Ethics and Compliance Helpline, the Office of the Ombuds and the Title IX Office.
“There are a million things that Stanford could be doing,” said the @dearstanford_ account owner. “I don’t care if you make a new taskforce. Just fix the issues BIPOC students have begged you to fix for years.”
The owner continued that they hope to garner as much attention as possible and have every institution that has been called out and tagged, including Stanford administrators, faculty, athletics and Greek life, “take accountability for and directly respond to the violently racist practices these experiences have shown.”
Contact Melanie Zhou at melaniez ‘at’ stanford.edu.