Stanford Review - Archive - Volume XXX - Issue 1 - News
Stanford Young Communists Party to Fight War on Iraq
by Ryan Wisnesky
On Saturday February 15, the Stanford Young Communist League (SYCL) threw a party in the Kimball Lounge. An ASSU recognized student group, SYCL is, according to its website, "a multiracial [sic] student group that works to create a better Stanford and a better country by fighting for the rights of youth and students, working in coalitions with other student groups, learning about current political movements, building international solidarity, fighting against all forms of racism, sexism, and homophobia, and providing a forum for discussing Marxism and socialism."
Stanford's YCL is an offshoot of a larger national organization. The YCL has a long and interesting history, including an FBI investigation during the 1930's and 1940's. Today, however, the organization is much smaller and is focused more toward perceived social inequality and working within the system rather than seeking violent revolution. Although the YCL has moved away from its revolutionary roots, remnants of its past still remain. Consider the following quote from its website (www.yclusa.org): "Hopefully, we will achieve this [communism] in the voting booth; but if the capitalists attack, we will defend ourselves and our system." The YCL is still quite active, and on March 5, is planning a nationwide Student Strike Day.
The SYCL's party in Kimball was a success, with a fair turnout despite rainy weather. However, Kimball itself was not a priori invited to the party, nor was the party well advertised on campus. The party featured a "make love not war" theme, red colored trappings, and banners with sayings from Che Guevara.
Most residents of Kimball found out about the party only days before it happened, and even then only because a conscientious resident forwarded the Kimball list a flyer advertising the party. The party was scheduled for the same time as Kimball's in-house progressive, and a resident (who wishes "to remain anonymous due to a fear of continued harassment") - e-mailed the list with the following commentary: "This is a forward that I thought you should at least all know about, seeing that you live here. If anyone objects to the Stanford Young Communist League holding a party in your dorm, you probably ought to bring that up with them... [Flyer attached]."
This initial e-mail sparked a chain of angry e-mails throughout the dorm. A resident responded to this individual's e-mail with a long message, stating in part: "I hope that our dorm and the broader student community believes in tolerance and does not support intimidation or narrow-minded comments like the following." She then proceeded to copy a private conversation between this individual and another individual about the YCL's party. Unfortunately, because this email was private, it would be unethical to publish its contents or name names here. When asked about his involvement in the matter, the individual in question responded by saying: "There's obviously a difference between individuals and movements. I've had a history of fascinating and amicable contact with people I completely disagree with, but I still don't consider communism better than any other totalitarian ideology."
The flames didn't stop quickly. This individual was attacked personally on a number of occasions, including the following: "As for you, why don't you reply to this email in bad Spanish, offensively pointing out my difference as you've done so in the past?" A few Kimball residents came to this individual's aid, but for the most part the dorm's reaction was ambivalent or negative. One resident suggested a capitalist counter-party/protest, one resident pointed out how he/she was the victim of a communist regime, and one resident suggested that communist parties be tolerated in the same way that non-drinkers tolerate progressives, but very little constructive dialogue took place. The two events took place simultaneously without interfering with each other.
Although student reaction was mixed, Peter Lubell-Doughtie sums up many students' views about the SYCL quite succinctly.
"They sure throw good parties."
Page last modified on Thursday, 02-Mar-2006 00:21:08 MST.