by Eme Williams-Blake, ’13
This piece focuses on a post written by Jason Lupatkin for The Stanford Review, entitled “Why You Cannot Vote for SOCC.” (The uncensored version is here, the updated version is here, and you can read a comparison of the two versions here).
The broader outlook: The response to backlash of the opinion piece “Why You Cannot Vote for SOCC” was problematic to say the very least, beginning with the way in which The Stanford Review chose to handle the negative publicity. An opinion piece was posted on their website. It was widely circulated and generated negative feedback and they chose to censor the article by removing it entirely from their website. To add insult to injury, The Stanford Review, for reasons unknown, chose to repost the article under the same title, but with major changes to the wording, omitting and rephrasing statements. These changes were made without any indication on the article’s page that these edits were made: a major breach in journalism ethics.
The candidates: Also disappointing was Daniel Ashton’s response to the criticism: 1) Looking at the email addresses cc-ed in his reply all, firstname.lastname@example.org was the only e-mail list to which his disassociation from Jason Lupatkin’s article or his rejection of The Stanford Review’s endorsement was sent, with no indication that his sentiments were personally shared with the wider student body. 2) One of the more disturbing parts of his e-mail was the line, “We applied to literally every single endorsement we had the opportunity to apply for.” While I cannot say with certainty what their intentions were, such a statement implies that Ashton-Gallagher were trying to garner endorsements solely to have as many names as possible attached to their campaign while disregarding what that group represents and how that, in turn, affects how they are perceived. The Stanford Review is known for such controversial articles. Why would Ashton-Gallagher even ask for their support in the first place?
Lastly, I wanted to touch on the source of this debacle: the article and its author. Jason Lupatkin chose to deliberately misinform his readers. He fails to mention groups that Najla Gomez and Elizabeth Patiño are a part of, such as the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP), Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE) and the LGBTQ-Religion Leadership Roundtable, information that is readily accessible on their website, gomezpatino.com, their Facebook page and their platform on ballot.stanford.edu. By mentioning only the multicultural sorority, Sigma Theta Psi, and the Latino groups that they are a part of, and subsequently stating “As a voter, one cannot help but be put off by the lack of diversity in the biographical backgrounds of the Gomez-Patiño slate,” Lupatkin implies that Gomez-Patiño can only identify with, and are thus only capable of representing, a small subset of the Stanford community.
Lupatkin also blantantly attempts to undermine the legitimacy of minority communities and minimise the events they host to ones “filled with artificial rhetoric and free pizza” complete with supposedly radical professors who “grant the event a false aura of academic legitimacy.” He states that the groups and events that SOCC represents “stifle free expression and further a hostile political agenda.” Apparently, these events which are actually aimed at engaging in meaningful dialogue with those who are and are not a part of the respective communities, are, to use Lupatkin’s words, cementing group identity and “creating a cycle in which affected students continue to vote as a bloc for their own isolation.”
Viewpoints like Lupatkin’s are precisely why entities like SOCC exist and why SOCC-endorsed candidates are important and should be represented on our undergraduate senate. Issues surrounding race, class and identity need to be better discusssed at Stanford. We may be a diverse institution on the surface, but we are sometimes more isolated underneath than we realize. The fact that a student can see fit to delegitimze minority communties and what they stand for is evidence of his ignorance and proof that these groups and the university as an institution need to double its efforts to ensure that education on such issues permeate the far reaches of our campus.
Eme is a senior majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering and hails from the beautiful twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago.