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“The first step is to remind our students and colleagues that those who hold views contrary to one’s own are rarely evil or stupid, and may know or understand things that we do not. It is only when we start with this assumption that rational discourse can begin, and that the winds of freedom can blow." Former Stanford Provost John Etchemendy

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  • The Fundamental Standard

 

"Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the University such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens. Failure to do this will be sufficient cause for removal from the University." (1896 to the present)

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From Our Latest Newsletter​

"To be true to the best you know" - Jane Stanford

May 20, 2024

The Wrong Way to Fight Anti-Semitism on Campus

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

"The House of Representatives passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act last week in a bipartisan vote of 320 to 91. 'Antisemitism is on the rise,' it declares, and is 'impacting Jewish students.'

 

"Bigotry against Jews is vile and warrants the nation’s attention. As President Joe Biden said Tuesday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, 'This hatred continues to lie deep in the hearts of too many people in the world and requires our continued vigilance.' But the Antisemitism Awareness Act is the wrong way to fight those ills....

 

“Earlier this week, the Department of Education published a 'Dear Colleague' letter suggesting that protected speech alone can give rise to a hostile campus environment that requires administrators to respond in some way, even if they cannot punish the speech in question. It states that 'a university can, among other steps, communicate its opposition to stereotypical, derogatory opinions; provide counseling and support for students affected by harassment; or take steps to establish a welcoming and respectful school campus.' This seems to create an incentive for preemptive crackdowns on protected speech by administrators who want to avoid federal investigations. The guidance could lead to the hiring of still more administrators assigned to police speech, manage student concerns about it, and lead DEI-style initiatives aimed at anti-Semitism as distinct from anti-racism....

 

“The First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh offers a hypothetical example in a post explaining why he opposes the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Imagine that Kamala Harris is president, he writes, and enacts a statute that codifies examples of anti-Palestinian discrimination -- such as denying Palestinians their right to self-determination, and comparing Palestinian attitudes toward Jews to those of the Nazis. Many people would be concerned that these examples ‘were likely to (and probably intended to) deter people from expressing their political views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’ Volokh points out....”

 

Full op-ed at The Atlantic and also republished at Real Clear Education 

 

From a Leader of Former Campus Protests: We Have a Mass Movement of Young People Advancing Horrifying Ideas

 

Excerpts (link in the original):

 

“In 1968, Paul Berman was a freshman at Columbia University and a central organizer of the protests that convulsed that university and then spread to other campuses across the country and around the world. He was part of the group that seized Hamilton Hall; he occupied the office of Columbia’s president, Grayson L. Kirk; he was arrested -- though not beaten, as many others were -- by the police. ‘The uprising of 1968 receded into the past, and, even so, the embers went on smoldering,’ Berman wrote in the foreword to a collection of remembrances of those events, A Time to Stir, published by Columbia University Press in 2018.

 

“Berman, who has taught at Columbia, New York University, Princeton, and the University of California at Irvine, went on to become one of the most astute chroniclers of the ’68 generation. In two books -- A Tale of Two Utopias (1996) and Power and the Idealists (2005) -- he traced those smoldering embers around the world and through the decades, showing how the insurrectionary spirit of ’68, in time, morphed into political movements both laudatory (gay rights, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia) and deplorable (the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Weather Underground). Berman has aptly been described in The New York Times as ‘not only an alumnus of the rebellion’ but ‘the keeper of its yearbook and its funeral director.’ ...

 

“Berman: ‘The real meaning of the ‘river to the sea’ is that the state of Israel should not exist, that 50 percent of the world’s population of Jews should be rendered stateless. And the real meaning of ‘globalize the intifada’ is that there should be a globalization of the events that introduced the word ‘intifada’ to the world, namely the intifada of circa 2001, which was a mass movement to commit random acts of murderous terror. But people don’t want to acknowledge that.'

 

“‘I blame the professors for this, not the students. I know from personal experience that students can be uninformed. But the professors have created a climate in which this stuff can go on. The professors for the most part don’t use these slogans. But they find ways to defend them. So I see a tremendous intellectual crisis.’ ...”

 

Full interview at Chronicle of Higher Education 

Colleges Have Strayed from Their Higher Purpose and Are Now Paying the Price

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“There was a time when colleges and universities had enough sense to stay in their lanes and focus on their historic mission to teach, learn and do research. 

 

“That objective has been derailed over the years, with higher education institutions now smugly assuming they should indoctrinate the nation on a laundry list of sociopolitical hobby horses. That misguided and self-righteous repositioning has turned out to be a blunder of great proportion....

 

“Whether it’s immigration, abortion, globalism, climate, gun rights, gender or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), college administrators have been eager to express their approved opinions. Curricula reflect the campus mob mentality, as course titles and syllabi clearly show. Hiring practices make sure all employees, from professors to dorm coordinators to groundskeepers, salute the prevailing mindsets. 'Diversity offices' keep an eye out for wayward thinkers, making sure everybody stays of one mind. 

 

“Check out the list of invited speakers to any campus and odds are there will be no presenters with views contrary to the accepted campus dogma. And if an unapproved speaker does show up, be ready for shout-downs and disruption.... 

 

“College administrators have been misreading the market for years, stifling free speech at their respective campuses and wanting to become sociopolitical provocateurs. They are now holding a losing hand. A recent survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression indicates a majority of Americans disapprove of colleges taking stands on political fashions. It is, indeed, sad to see how American higher education has deteriorated under the condescending 'leadership' of highly educated, but not very smart, administrators.”

 

Full op-ed by DePauw University Prof. Jeffrey M. McCall at The Hill

 

See also our compilation of the Chicago Trifecta including the Kalven Report regarding a university’s involvement in political and social matters.

From Stanford Review: Stanford’s High-Cost War on Parties

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“On April 20th, the Olive neighborhood, one of Stanford’s eight arbitrarily created housing groups, held an all-campus party where students could ‘enjoy fine dining, a live band, and a dance floor.’ Attendance was lackluster, as only around 100 people showed up over the course of three hours. The kicker? This mild party cost Stanford around $60,000, or $600 per student that attended.

 

“The party was organized by a group of Stanford administrators ‘in collaboration’ with the rest of the Olive neighborhood council, a group of student representatives.... As it turns out, student representatives weren't so well represented. They originally had plans for an Ancient Greece-themed party, where people could show up in togas to a field with large columns and other ornamentation, but this harmless idea for a community-bonding event was vetoed because it was deemed to be ‘culturally insensitive.’ ...

 

"Stanford has over 10,000 administrators, some of whom are responsible for organizing events like this for students....

 

“Silicon Valley giants like Google, Tesla, and Meta recently performed significant layoffs to increase operational efficiency and become more nimble, and Stanford should take note. Instead of throwing more money at the problem and further bloating our cumbersome bureaucracy, we need an administration which can facilitate natural socialization and take it upon themselves as a priority to serve students and, by extension, the future of Stanford....”

 

Full op-ed at Stanford Review

See also Stanford’s official “Party Planning Guide” as well as the highly detailed “Student Party Policy & Guidelines”. 

See also “Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy” at our Stanford Concerns webpage, including data and charts.

 

See also “Control of Student Life Must Be Restored to Stanford’s Students” at our Back to Basics webpage.

Newly added: "Clips of the Party Planning Committee" from The Office, at You Tube.

Other Articles of Interest

 

Harvard Alumni Report Includes Startling Testimony from Students and Faculty re Campus Antisemitism

Full editorial at WSJ

Divesting Endowments Is Easier Demanded Than Done

Full article at The Conversation and also republished at Real Clear Education  

 

How Diversity Became the Master Concept of Our Age

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education and also republished at Real Clear Education  

 

Complaint Alleges MIT Hired Six New Diversity Deans, and that Two of Them Are Serial Plagiarists

Full article at Free Beacon

 

Will Chicago Stand by Its Principles?

Full op-ed by Holy Cross Prof. Emeritus David Lewis Schaefer at Law & Liberty Magazine

 

Three Actions We Can Take Now to Heal Our College Campuses

Full op-ed at Greater Good Magazine

 

The Leadership Industrial Complex Is Setting Up Academic Leaders to Fail

Full op-ed at The Hill

 

The Public Stands with Shutting Down the Encampments

Full op-ed by Stanford alum and Sarah Lawrence Prof. Samuel Abrams at Real Clear Education

 

ChatGPT Is Really Helpful

Full interview at James Martin Center

 

Samples of Current Teaching and Research at Stanford

Click on each article for direct access; selections are from Stanford Report and other Stanford websites. 

 

Meet the Robot that Learned to Sauté Shrimp 

 

What the Ancient Greeks Can Teach Us About Democracy

 

Decoding Stanford’s Arches 

“Critical thinking is the foundation of intellectual growth and progress. It is the ability to analyze information, question assumptions, and evaluate evidence, leading to deeper understanding and better decision-making." – Former Stanford President John Hennessy

Comments and Questions from Our Readers

See more reader comments on our Reader Comments webpage.

Need Dialog, Not Prohibitions

I suggest the university produce forums in which ultimate concerns about war and peace presently unfolding be formally debated, subject to the rules of decorum. This is what the university is for, not prohibitions on argument or advocacy. Silence renders learning impossible. 

Hoping for Balanced Speech at Stanford

I am so in support of the opinions expressed here and hope Stanford will adopt a more balanced approach to free speech. I can only hope.

 

Teaching Young People and Others How to Disagree Civilly

While I believe that supporting free speech is very important in and of itself, I also believe that there is a related component that is often ignored. That component is teaching people, especially young people, how to disagree civilly/how to constructively respond to free speech they might not agree with.

Stanford Internet Observatory

If your leadership team has not looked into the Stanford Internet Observatory, and its link to the Election Integrity Partnership, funded through the Obama/Biden Department of Homeland Security, please take a look. This is a powerful online censorship weapon. The university has no business participating in the policing of election related free speech in our country.  

Question About Ties to the Alumni Association

Q.  I notice that the SAA website contains no links to the Stanford Alumni for Free Speech and Critical Thinking website. Why is that?

 

A. Our website is not linked at the SAA website since we intentionally did not seek to become an affiliate of SAA. Among other things, we wanted to maintain independence, including since SAA became a subsidiary of 

the university in the mid-1990’s. That said, there are a number of current and former Stanford administrators and trustees who receive our Newsletters and read the materials that are posted at the website.

About Us

Member, Alumni Free Speech Alliance

 

Stanford Alumni for Free Speech and Critical Thinking is an independent, diverse, and nonpartisan group of Stanford alumni committed to promoting and safeguarding freedom of thought and expression, intellectual diversity and inclusion, and academic freedom at Stanford.  

 

We believe innovation and positive change for the common good is achieved through free and active discourse from varying viewpoints, the freedom to question both popular and unpopular opinions, and the freedom to seek truth without fear of reprisal from those who disagree, within the confines of humanity and mutual respect.  

 

Our goal is to support students, faculty, administrators, and staff in efforts that assure the Stanford community is truly inclusive as to what can be said in and outside the classroom, the kinds of speakers that can be invited, and what should always be the core principles of a great university like Stanford.  We also advocate that Stanford incorporates the Chicago Trifecta, the gold standard for freedom of speech and expression at college and university campuses, and that Stanford abides by these principles in both its policies and its actions.  

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