The SCoPE Charade Crumbles

The SCoPE Charade Crumbles

When I published a criticism of campus housing activists in The Review two weeks ago, I did not know that in four short days, my warnings about SCoPE 2124 and its actions would suddenly come true.

Indeed, after three years, Stanford has withdrawn its General Use Permit (GUP) application. They cite the County’s unworkable conditions of approval (read: traffic) and its refusal to negotiate a binding development agreement as reasons for their decision.

In June, Stanford offered to open 575 units of below-market-rate housing to families on campus making under $72,000 immediately after the approval of its package to the county -- which SCoPE attacked and the County denied!

Now, those 575 units will not be fast-tracked. In fact, no housing will be built for workers because the County won’t allow it; our remaining housing allowance is 39 beds. Beyond what academic space is still allowed by the 2000 GUP (180,000 square feet ~ one Huang building), Stanford will cease all development.

Already, SCoPE is in denial:

“We are saddened and frustrated to learn that Stanford has decided to withdraw its General Use Permit application. To be clear, the goal of our activism was never to stop this project…”

What exactly did SCoPE expect when they allied themselves with people whose goal was precisely to stop the project? How did they think Stanford would respond to extortion by crooked public officials and a list of impossible demands?

But, they say, “Even though the GUP process appears to be paused right now, our goals are unchanged.”

Appears to be paused? Really? Newsflash: it’s done. Stanford lost, you lost, the workers lost, we lost.

SCoPE claims that their paramount goal is to fight housing injustice and support campus workers. If SCoPE really supported workers, they would support Stanford’s proposals, take what they can get, and tell the County to pound sand with its traffic requirements and no-growth zoning laws.

SCoPE 2124 will continue to point fingers at Stanford for any woke reason they can cook up. No doubt, the campus mainstream will continue mindlessly cheering them on, exemplified in this Stanford Politics piece from last year, which called SCoPE “the most powerful activist group on campus.”

By ‘powerful,’ they must mean ‘most able to throw a wrench in the University’s future,’ because SCoPE’s alleged clout hasn’t gotten them what they claim to want most: housing for workers. On the contrary, they expertly tanked the chances of that happening any time soon.

SCoPE says that the University will be back, that “they are waiting for student activists to graduate, for County Supervisors to term out or be up for re-election…” As amazingly egotistical as it is — does SCoPE really believe that Stanford is quaking before their painted bedsheets and incoherent chants of “Stanford has got to go!” ? — this assessment is basically accurate.

Of course Stanford will be back. The University and its Trustees are in fact playing the long game. Stanford has an institutional mission to fulfill,“to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.” That mission has existed for much longer than SCoPE 2124 and will exist long after they finish doing their best to thwart it.

Our mission demands that we expand academically, to include more students and faculty in closer proximity to one another on campus, and to do more impactful research for the world. Some things, it turns out, are more important than property values and traffic.

By now it should be clear to any honest observer that SCoPE’s activism has been a performative sham that has nothing to do with supporting workers or anything other than attacking Stanford. So please, spare us the self-righteous charade and do some reflection on what it has gotten us.

Let’s summarize what SCoPE 2124 “accomplished”:

  • Made colorful protest signs and ate free pizza at a rally
  • Kept traffic and school enrollments down for the rich
  • Protected property values and "neighborhood character" for the rich
  • Congratulated themselves many times over for “holding Stanford accountable”
  • No new housing for undergraduates
  • No new housing for graduate students
  • No new housing for faculty
  • No new housing for workers (including the 575 families who would have been immediately eligible had the County taken Stanford’s offer)

So, to SCoPE 2124, I say congratulations. Truly a job well done.

Subscribe to the Stanford Review
UA-140492650-2