Tag Archives: ally

FLIP Your Perspective Week Catalyzes Conversation About Class

by Destiny Lopez, ’16

FYPWeek2013“FYP Week was my favorite week on campus all year! More please!”

“It began on this traditionally tricky, sticky topic in an open, welcoming manner.”

These were some of the many positive responses to the second annual “FLIP Your Perspective Week.” For the second year in a row, Stanford’s First-Generation, Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) hosted “FLIP Your Perspective Week,” a week’s worth of events aimed at fostering cross-class conversation and empowering the first-generation, low-income community and its allies. FLIP Your Perspective week took place from April 8th to April 12th  and consisted of eight different events, each addressing different topics related to class. FLIP partnered with various student organizations to host a variety of unique events. Some notable events were “Race and Class at Stanford, Challenging Classism: A Workshop for Allies,” and “Classing the Line” (based on the “Crossing the Line” activity implemented in many Stanford residences). “FLIP Your Perspective Week” was well-attended by a diverse group of students: first-generation students, low-income students, allies, grads, undergrads, professors, admissions officers, and other special guests. The attendees’ feedback* was overwhelmingly positive. Continue reading

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Welcome to Transgender Awareness Week

by Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman, PhD student

Many student groups have pitched in with Stanford Students for Queer Liberation to bring the events of Transgender Awareness Week to campus.  This is the third year doing it, and every year is different.  Last year’s week was discussed here and here.

The week begins with a “trans* 101” panel, designed to introduce everyone and anyone to the experiences of the panelists, to give space for questions, and to give cis students (those who are not trans*) tools to use in supporting trans* folks.  We call that “being a trans ally”, but as many people will tell you, ally is not a thing you can be, it’s a thing you can strive to do.  The tools of allyship are a theme throughout the week and this post.

However, we believe that to focus only on the oppression that transgender people face will firstly not serve transgender students who want to attend without getting depressed or triggered, and secondly not point in the direction of the kind of respect that transgender people deserve.   Continue reading

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Class Confessions on Campus

by the FLIP Leadership Core

reading back

The Stanford First Generation and/or Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) recently hosted a workshop called “Class Confessions” where students of all class backgrounds were invited to discuss our socioeconomic status secrets and share ideas for how to move toward a more honest and inclusive campus community. Over 50 students showed up, eager to engage in Stanford’s first cross-class discussion space.

Before the event, we asked people to submit their “Class Confessions,” or instances in which they had covered their class identities. We displayed these anonymous revelations at our workshop, where attendees could read and reflect on their peers’ class secrets. Here is a sampling of the more than 80 confessions, which were split evenly between students who identified as having class privilege, and those who did not:

  • When I was abroad, I pretended to be extremely sick because I wanted people to stop asking me why I couldn’t buy a plane ticket to explore nearby countries during a long weekend.
  • I use my knowledge about financial aid to pretend that I receive it when talking to friends and acquaintances.
  • I bought a smartphone and pay for the much more expensive plan to fit in with the rest of my friends whose parents pay their phone bills. Continue reading
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Why You Should Take CSRE 26SI

by Holly Fetter, ’13

One of the most distinctive factors that sets Stanford apart from other universities is its diversity — diversity of perspectives, experiences, identities, origins, beliefs. It’s a word that’s used so often that it almost lacks meaning, like “multicultural” or “entrepreneurial.” Even the Dictionary.com definition is wack — “Diversity: the state of being diverse.” Roughly half of Stanford students self-identify as people of color. Unlike certain East Coast institutions of higher learning, this campus has been open to all genders since its founding. 15% of Stanford students are the first in their families to attend college, and 75% students receive some form of financial aid. Yes, our student population represents a variety of different identities. We coexist in residence halls, student groups, frat parties. We’re a very “multicultural” mix.

But are we really equipped to handle our differences? What do we do when it gets messy? How do we deal when we’re not sure if our words are accidentally transphobic, or that our actions make students from different class backgrounds feel uncomfortable? It’s super important that we each go beyond being best friends or “colorblind” classmates, and make the effort to educate ourselves on how to be active allies in the face of prejudices, both subtle and overt. An “ally” is someone who supports members of community/ies to which they do not personally belong, through interrupting injustice at a personal and/or institutional level. Learning how to be an ally can help us through those awkward encounters with -isms and -phobias that might otherwise leave us feeling powerless and uncomfortable. Continue reading

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Empathy, Compassion and Accountability: Finding a Middle Ground to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

by Viviana Arcia, ’13

Disclaimer: Women are more likely to be survivors of sexual violence than are men. As such, I will refer to perpetrators by male pronouns and survivors by female pronouns. However, domestic violence and sexual assault affects men, women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people. 

The recent article on sexual assault on campus has brought an often taboo subject back into campus dialogue. And, like almost every time the subject is back in public consciousness, two opposing and fiercely vocal sides begin heated and passionate debates, often failing to openly take in what the other says and feels, more often than not failing to reach a comfortable middle ground.

As an advocate for survivors of rape and domestic violence for four years and as someone who is close friends with numerous survivors, I myself have very often been dragged into these debates and, in the meantime, made enemies, gained allies, and learned difficult but ultimately fulfilling lessons in engaging “the other side.” Two very important lessons I’ve learned and would hope that others who engage in these discussions do as well is the idea of empathy and compassion.

One in three women will be raped or abused and one in six men will have been survivors of sexual assault/abuse in their lifetime. As such, you are guaranteed to have met a survivor, although most won’t readily identify as such. However, these statistics have failed to affect much of Stanford’s campus culture regarding rape and domestic violence, and it is this culture which I believe holds the most power in reducing the number of violent acts that we perpetrate against each other. Continue reading

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Microaggressions at Stanford

by Holly Fetter, ’13

Stanford is a pretty liberal place. It’s a sunny university near San Francisco, so everyone assumes it’s a happy place to be different. And it is! There are incredible resources for students of every background, and diversity isn’t just another buzzword on campus – it’s an integral part of the school’s identity. Stanford (unlike some of its peer institutions) has always been co-ed, racially integrated, and was even tuition-free for the first 30 years of its existence. It is, and always has been, an inclusive place.

But such a comfortable environment can make instances of prejudice even more pernicious. They’re much harder to identify, and if they are identified, the victim is often met with raised eyebrows or counterarguments. Many of us with privilege only see the dangerous “-isms “ (racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, etc.) manifested in blatant, infrequent, dramatic events, without noticing the subtle ways in which we all accidentally communicate prejudice, even if our intentions are good.

These less obvious occurrences are called “microaggressions.” All those syllables refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults toward a particular identity group.” Continue reading

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A Bigger Circle

by Nick Biddle, ’14
When I heard Talisman perform “Amazing Grace” at New Student Orientation my freshman year, I was in tears. And I know for a fact that I was not alone and that the group had the special ability to bring out emotions from the depths of my soul and I knew that I had to be a part of it. I signed up for auditions right after the show. Little did I know that what I was getting into was so much more than just a singing group.

This spring the group toured in Charleston, SC and Atlanta, GA to get a deeper understanding of the African American roots of some of our music. Along with the music we learned and the amazing experiences we had meeting people in the south, we also had personal journeys that brought us together that I could never have imagined I would have before joining.Identity and the idea of what it means to be an ally had been a pivotal discussion point of our year, and over tour we dug into the conversation.

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A Speech to Queer High School Activists

by Alok Vaid-Menon, ’13

Note on terminology: Throughout this text I will be using the word ‘queer.’ I do not mean to use ‘queer’ as a derogatory or negative term, rather I use it as an umbrella term for sexualities and gender-identities that are not heterosexual (when one is attracted to members of the ‘opposite’ ‘sex’) or cisgender (when the gender someone is assigned at birth aligns with their psychological feeling of their gender).

Flawed Paradigms

What comes to mind when you think of the ‘gay’ movement? Chances are you think of the Human Rights Campaign and their “gosh-darnit this is so aesthetically pleasing” ‘equality’ sticker – the very sticker you were so proud of yourself for sticking on the back of your mom’s minivan that you drive to school. Chances are you think of marriage equality: of the ‘State’ ‘denying’ gay people their very integrity and going against ‘true love.’ What comes to mind when you think of gay ‘activists’ who compose our movement? Chances are you think of people participating in protests and rallies screaming into megaphones demanding full and equal rights. You might think of a Pride Parade with gorgeous and fit gay people dressed up with all their reckless fabulosity.

But ask yourself: What would change in your life right now if the Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and that every State in the United States now had to legalize same-sex marriage?

My guess is that after your cried tears of joy, felt a delicious burst of self-affirmation in your heart, texted all your friends, and kept the news on all night, you would recognize that very little in your day-to-day life would change. Continue reading

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