As you drove along Palm Drive for the first time, the endless trees and sunshine welcomed you to Stanford University. “This could be my new home,” you told yourself. You met your RoHo, who was ecstatic to tell you about their Stanford experience and show you around campus.
As you walked through White Plaza this morning, however, something on the ground caught your attention. “STANFORD FUNDS OPPRESSION,” you read in chalk. You kept walking, only to see another: “WE RESIST TOGETHER”. You headed to MemAud for a ProFro event, only to have your path blocked by activists bearing signs that read “EDUCATE YOURSELF”, “ACTION THEN DIALOGUE”, and “FUNDING CORRUPTION”. You checked your lanyard to ensure that you are indeed at Stanford University, and not UC Berkeley.Freedom of speech and assembly are critical pillars of our legal and social systems in the United States. They have often led to great things that shape the way we see the world today: the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War protests, uncensored internet searches. Similarly, Stanford activists are exercising free speech and assembly by chalking and hosting an event that details how “Stanford funds oppression” and “Stanford protects rapists”.
Most Stanford students support at least some portion of the underlying motives of Stanford activists. Many would agree that there are many problems in the world; racial biases in policing and some degree of injustice in the judicial system are just two. However, not every student endorses the methods by which activists at Stanford try to raise awareness for and correct these issues: standing in Palo Alto streets, blocking the San Mateo bridge, and implying “violent resistance” to Stanford administrators.
Stanford may indirectly “fund oppression” – under a loose definition of the term – as much as the next top-tier university, in that they buy products from companies that may have done business in countries perceived by some as “unethical”. However, Stanford funds cutting-edge research, world-class athletic programs, and arguably the best college education in the country. Don’t let an activist make you think Stanford is something it isn’t, or a place you wouldn’t want to spend your next four years.
John Luttig, Class of 2017
Executive Editor, The Stanford Review