On the SOCC Debacle

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 herethe 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, the_diaspora@lists.stanford.edu 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.

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4 thoughts on “On the SOCC Debacle

  1. Liz says:

    Thanks for continuing the dialogue with this article.

    I think it’s great that this article calls for a closer look at the Stanford Community and agree that the “university as an institution need to double its efforts to ensure that education on such issues permeate the far reaches of our campus”. However, I question the lightness of the response. This is not just an opportunity for an educational dialogue. Is this not the time for a resistance against a colormute, white-hegemonic racist attack on people of color?
    Who is expected to be educating the author?
    A class on the nature of race in society? No.
    He, nor the group of people whom he stands for and with, will not hand over a legitimacy pass to groups of color and such a pass cannot be beaten out of them simply through a call to academic discussion. He is blind to his own privilege and we remain mute on the real issue. Yes, this is a class issue- all issues of race are tied to class. But most importantly, this is a race issue at an institution- like many institutions- where white is right and it’s fine for a few minorities to tag along. But, if those minorities are not only embracing identities outside of a white-washed academic identity but also seeking to empower themselves through alternative identities then not only is it “illegitimate” it is a THREAT. I haven’t read all of the responses so I’m sure other people have touched on this idea, but where do we talk about the fact that this is not simply an “academic institution” and “diversity” issue, but a real world, on the ground, daily grind issue of race?

  2. Anonymous says:

    The one thing that can be overwhelmingly be agreed upon is Mr. Lupatkin’s lack of due diligence in researching for his rant (to call it an “article” or “opinion piece” would be over reaching) and ability to make a cohesive argument. After reading it I almost expected the last line to be “but I have a Black friend so it’s cool”. His work could have been provocative and it fell short. Now he must lie in the bed he made.

  3. Free speech moderate says:

    The problem with your response is encapsulated in the conclusion: ad hominem dismissiveness is not constructive. Explain why you disagree with the piece in a constructive and reasonable way, not just that it made you upset.

    Dialogue on this campus is stifling for anyone with a more moderate position, and this kind of piece is why. There are many students on campus who share some of the sentiments of Mr. Lupatkin – your approach to engaging in dialogue just means you can’t tell who they are.

  4. funny says:

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if Gomez-Patino applied for the Review endorsement? Ashton-Gallagher is being slammed for aligning themselves to a paper that wrote an admittedly ignorant and aggressive opinions piece. But comments in the Daily from the Review editor seems to suggest that Gomez-Patino applied for the Review endorsement too, so to criticize Ashton-Gallagher for “asking for the Review’s support” seems a little unfair.

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