Now is the time to not just reflect on these organizations’ roots and problematic positions on campus, but also to actualize real change and not merely reforms. We can’t keep pretending that the system will magically or naturally fix itself. Nor can we pretend that a system built on the premise of elitist exclusion will ever be inclusive.
On July 8, 2020, you announced that Stanford will permanently discontinue 11 varsity athletic programs at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 academic year. This decision is devastating to our community in profound and personal ways. The lack of transparency, adequate notice and failure to include the Stanford community in the decision-making process stands in direct opposition to Stanford University’s commitment to its values.
On June 12th, the Stanford University Board of Trustees neglected their ethical responsibility and decided not to divest from the top 100 oil and natural gas companies. We have been heartened by the responses of the student body, faculty, and broader Bay community—over the past 8 years and especially in recent weeks—yet we remain deeply concerned that the Board’s June 12th statement is the product of an unrepresentative divestment process. This process has excluded these necessary community voices and fails to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its legacy of human rights abuses and climate disinformation campaigns. While Fossil Free Stanford has provided a detailed response to the Board’s decision, we want to highlight briefly the flaws in the recent divestment process and outline a path forward.
Before COVID-19, UG2 workers reported issues of overwork to SWR. Now, conditions have gone from bad to worse. Yet Stanford chooses to ignore contracted workers’ call for hazard pay and renege on its promise to provide pay and health benefits.
And just as experts feared, just 50 miles north of Stanford, the third largest outbreak in the nation has erupted in San Quentin State Prison, with over one-third of the incarcerated population testing positive for COVID-19.
Instead of working to understand and convey the driving forces behind the protests, journalists too often have reflected the systemic biases of broader society: amplifying voices already powerful, ignoring perspectives already disenfranchised. These failures reflect a long-standing bias in journalism toward white viewpoints.
In his email on July 1, 2020, Marc Tessier-Lavigne shared news about goals to offer new academic positions to scholars engaging with the “Impacts of Race in America.” This initiative falls short of properly addressing anti-Blackness. BGSA and BSU reject the administrations' reforms and propose a reevaluation of the University’s approach to addressing the question of race in our curriculum and community
To address the backlog of student-led requests for racial equity on campus and truly embody the ideals outlined by the Presidential IDEAL initiative, we believe Stanford University must take immediate action.
We would like to offer a confidential method for sharing your experience. We’re calling on any students, past or present, who have had issues requesting accommodations from the university to share their story so that we can investigate how widespread the issue really is.
The University has made clear that the permanence and value of initiatives are demonstrated through endowments. The King Institute deserves an endowment that is commensurate to King’s centrality to this nation’s future, an endowment that can ensure its permanence and prominence.
The recent incidents, as well as the responses in their wake, speak to a pattern of anti-Black violence permeating within this university. That such behavior would occur within the CSRE program, a space in which Black students would expect to be seen, heard and supported, is profoundly disappointing.
On May 6, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a sweeping set of policies codifying in law the ways universities can respond to and investigate Title IX sexual misconduct allegations. Many of the changes overrule previous guidances issued by the Obama administration, and have been widely denounced by victims’ rights groups and universities themselves as biased towards the accused and unenforceable and one-size fits all.
Over the past weekend, a small group of concerned faculty met on Zoom with student organizers. By Monday we had composed and posted a letter to the administration for other faculty to sign. Within 24 hours we had gathered nearly 100 signatures from schools and departments across campus. The petition will remain open until Stanford agrees…
While we are disappointed by the Faculty Senate's decision to reject our proposal, we believe that it chose the more equitable option out of the remaining two.
Our current actions are only buying time. That time must not be wasted. We must use it to prepare and fight back.
We ask now that all academic classes taken for credit with planned finals have those exams made optional. If this is impossible, we ask for an alternative that would add further flexibility to students than the current regularly scheduled timed finals.
Stanford students are not worried only about COVID-19 but are scared for how the University administration’s response will affect our lives. We are at a point where the lack of direction is just as harmful to us as the conditions that created it. We need our leaders to tell us what they are considering, and we ask them not to force us to evacuate campus.
Friends, I ask you today to fight for a dream. A dream that India dared to have 70 years ago. A dream that reinvented what was possible for humanity. Fighting for this dream entails fighting for secular democracy, fighting against discrimination and violence, and fighting for a radical concept of equality unlike anything the world has ever seen.
I’ve been truly shocked by the experiences I have witnessed at Stanford regarding mental health. Whereas I typically encourage my friends to seek mental health care, I hesitate to do so when these friends are Stanford students on Cardinal Care, because I know that, more often than not, they will have to expend immense time, financial, and emotional resources without being able to actually obtain therapy.\][
Recognizing that people of color and marginalized groups are underrepresented within the global environmental conversation, yet often most acutely impacted by climate change, we strove to center these voices through our choice of a speaker. Dr. Shiva has received global recognition for her work to diversify the historically exclusive environmental community. Not unexpectedly, our invitation generated some controversy, including a letter of protest by a group of agricultural scientists. Their letter was also published in “European Scientist”.
Almost three years after joining, I realize that staying in the sorority was also a mistake. By convincing myself that the system itself could be changed, I helped perpetuate a system that hurts people. I was a diversity token to display every year at the presentations to administrators on why my Greek organization should remain on campus. Meanwhile, new women entered the system under the false pretense that there were “diversity efforts” only to experience the same racism and classism, except maybe a little better concealed.
I use “we” and “our” here, since I’m referring to the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) and Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE). The ASSU has existed since 1891, and that’s pretty amazing—we’re almost 130 years old! Since its foundation, the ASSU has spent its time influencing positive change on campus, and providing over $3 million in annual funding for student groups so that everyone can find communities they belong to. Fast forward to 1995—we became financially independent from the University and thus founded SSE. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of SSE’s founding and the ASSU’s financial independence, we’ve gone through some rebranding.
This is a key moment – for India, for the US, for a world that is (rightly so) in a state of panic, about economic precarity, about climate disasters. We’ve seen the rise of authoritarian right-wing leaders here and there, and everywhere in between. But this is a key moment to change that narrative. We could be on the cusp of a big change. And this is what is most inspiring about this moment.