Student government is NOT real politics. There, I said it. It is unfortunate that we have degenerated to mud-slinging that’s befitting of a national political race. As the election window opens, I would urge the students of Stanford to recognize that those we are accusing of a plethora of malpractices are members of a tiny community of Stanford students. It is incredibly difficult for one to remain removed from these allegations by existing in a bubble of friends and admirers, because in a community of 12,000, and especially within a smaller subset of undergraduate students, personal attacks are far more concerning than they would be in actual politics.
The Stanford Review received information on Stewart MacGregor-Dennis and his use of ODesk services in excess of $2,000 to acquire twitter followers, and avail other social media services, perhaps before any other news outlet on campus. As the Editor-in-Chief, I made the decision of holding off on publishing until we could give Stewart a chance to respond. Granted, that has not happened yet, but I am glad that we are not the publication that chucked unwarranted vitriol at a member of the Stanford student body. Publishing scathing investigative pieces like this is not similar to writing critiques of something like a campaign platform. In the latter, one works off of material that is put forward by an individual or group, be it privately or in public. In the former, however, one simply finds information, and does not allow for the subject of the article a chance to present any context or rationale. Although this form of investigative journalism is fair, it is difficult when it becomes tantamount to the character assault of a college student. I do not think that anything short of blatant and concerning illegal activity is worth jeopardizing the character or mental health of any student, at least not for the sake of something as minor as a student government selection.
And this problem extends beyond Stewart. This morning, an anonymous email from the address “firstname.lastname@example.org” claimed that it had indubitable information that points to Kamil Dada as the culprit behind the out-of-line Senator Palpatine email from last night. There is absolutely no reason why we should be publicly calling out any individual as responsible for trying to assault another student’s integrity. These complaints can be made in private- what are we achieving by letting the entire student body know who sent out the email?
The debate over the ODesk situation without allowing Stewart to voice his opinions is petty. So was the Senator Palpatine email from last night, as is the claim that Kamil is responsible for that email. Assaulting characters is a terrible thing to do in the context of a college, and it is just not worth it to harm fellow students for the sake of something as minute as a student government election. Let us not get over our heads here- please vote for whomever you want, and campaign for or against candidates, as Kyle articulated, based on their platforms and performance. Nothing else needs to be as public or vitriolic as all of this has become.