If Trumpism is a reaction against mainstream liberal culture, then our first task should be to flesh out and understand what complaints the movement has with that culture. And when we begin to have this conversation, it’s impossible to avoid that perennial punching bag of loudmouthed reactionaries and honest moderates alike: political correctness.
As frosh, so many of us see Stanford as the paradise we want it to be. We go into our classes ready to learn, make new friends in our residences and student groups and revel in the social and academic opportunities that seem delivered into our waiting hands. We don’t need to think about the vast Stanford bureaucratic machine because all the cogs are turning quietly in our favor (Stanford really does value their frosh), and if they aren’t, our gratitude for being on this campus threatens to overwhelm any feeling of unease or discomfort here. Stanford starts out as a black box: through some magic we cannot see, the time and energy we put into campus life comes back out as thrill, excitement, satisfaction, and achievement.
The fourth meeting of the quarter for the 17th ASSU Undergraduate Senate took place Tuesday evening. Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Harry Elam attended the Senate meeting to discuss OpenXChange and respond to activists’ concerns. Associate dean and director of Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) Nanci Howe also came to discuss open membership requirements for Voluntary Student Organisations (VSOs).
Activism and activist groups have an important role to play at universities: they push the envelope on important and contentious issues, from sexual assault to racial equality, when institutions and cultures are slow to change. By the very nature of challenging the status quo, activism is bound to create critics, skeptics, and reactionaries.
Luckily, Stanford students, this summer will be a much-needed time to recharge for most people as we head home. Nowhere else is it so easy to hear people with the same ideas as us and regain our faith in the ability of people with privilege to generate fantastical alternatives for reality.
At Stanford, we have the privilege of resources many do not have access to outside of this bubble. It is important to acknowledge this fact for our own well-being while navigating hostile spaces. When we leave here, we must work to make self-care a part of our lives, and strive for self-care implementations in our home communities who may not have access to other options.
In order to move from these basic realities into more nuanced discussions on activism, resistance, survival, and healing, we must move past our fear of acknowledging racism. Only by confronting our own beliefs can we grow as individuals, as communities, and as a campus.
When confronted with racial activism, rather than labeling it as overdramatic and annoying, consider that people of color have been fighting systems of oppression since the day they were born. And understand that their anger, no matter how aggressive, no matter how radical, and no matter repetitive, is justified.