Tag Archives: Stanford activism

Why Peace, Justice, and Nonviolence Studies is Possible at Stanford and How You Can (and Must!) Help

by Cole Manley, ’15

Over the past year, I have written a variety of articles about peace studies for a variety of publications and groups, from STATIC to the United Campus Christian Ministry (UCCM). In my last article, I laid out the many courses that related to peace and justice at Stanford. But this is not enough. Not nearly enough.

Leenda Gonzalez, a Stanford student in the early 1980s involved in the effort to generate peace studies courses back then, said in 1985 that ““There is a notion running around the hallowed halls of Stanford that could kill you. This notion suggests that peace is extracurricular.” Today, the hallowed halls are still here, and peace is largely still extracurricular.

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Stanford: End Cuts and Threats Against Dining Hall Workers

Please sign in support of Stanford dining hall workers! http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stanford-dining/

Thank you for your support of the Row chefs and hashers. In a meeting today, Vice Provost Boardman and Dean Golder promised to work with Stanford Labor Action Coalition and student Row staff on integrating the demands from our previous petition into future contracts. Yet reports of the effects of cost-cutting on workers continue to come from food service workers on the Row and in the dining halls. In dining halls, administration has cut staff, hours, and benefits, while forcing work speed-ups and hiring lower-paid, temporary workers over full-time employees. We object to these changes, and ask that you join us by signing our petition below.

End Cuts and Threats Against Dining Hall Workers
In the past few years, Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE)has expanded to include four additional residences and the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons while cutting the number of workers and the hours of the workers who remain. Adding insult to injury, R&DE managers also disrespect, threaten, and intimidate workers while manipulating their hours, breaks, and days off, committing multiple violations of federal and state labor law and the workers’ collective bargaining agreement.In addition to these speed-ups, R&DE has reduced many workers to part-time, 75% status, even though they still assign many of these workers a 40-hour weekly workload. Being at 75% status means these workers’ benefits, including health care, vacation pay, and accrued time towards retirement, are significantly reduced. R&DE has also fired permanent workers only to rehire them as temporary workers, reducing their pay and benefits and eliminating their ability to join a labor union.Managers also insult and demean their employees’ work as valueless. Managers have called their employees’ work “children’s work” and have yelled at them to work faster. Some R&DE managers have prohibited workers from talking to students and, when they do, threatened to move them to work at Arrillaga Dining, which already has a notorious reputation among the workers as one of the worst working environments.

While workers have faced many of these problems for years, Stanford administration continues to justify greater cuts and worsening conditions – both in Dining and on the Row – with the economic crisis. Stanford offers this reasoning despite consistently increasing tuition, board, and housing bills and having one of the largest endowments in the world, which increased by 22% last fiscal year. Stanford administration clearly does not need to cut workers’ compensation but nevertheless uses the dismal job market to frighten workers into accepting cuts and worsening conditions. Stanford shouldn’t follow this shameful trend of making cuts on the backs of hard-working people but rather should set an example by providing good, secure jobs in Dining, Row houses, and all parts of campus.

In light of the above facts we demand that Stanford University: Continue reading

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Stanford Re-Orientation Guide

Back in the day, a group of radical Stanford students would create an annual guide to the activist scene on campus. Called the “Re-Orientation Guide,” it was meant to educate folks about the movements of resistance against apathy and conservatism at Stanford. Students Promoting Ethnic and Cultural Kinship (SPEACK) would compile essays, poems, illustrations, historical information, and demographic data into one great guide.

The last version of this unconventional document was published in 2009, and you can (and should!) read it here. Continue reading

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How to Occupy Your Education

by Holly Fetter, ’13

When I tell people that I’m studying race and ethnicity, I get one of two reactions. The first, undoubtedly inspired by my pale skin, is the inevitable “Why did you decide to major in that?” The second comes from a more practical perspective: “What are you going to do with that?”

It seems that the dominant perception of a college degree is that is must be lucrative. It’s fine to use one’s undergraduate years to experiment with new hairstyles, narcotics, and sexual orientations, but the end result must be a good shot at a six-figure salary. College is only “worth it” if you gain some marketable skills.

As soon as I declared my love for interdisciplinary thinking, I felt that I had to make a decision — would I major in Econ and be ushered into Stanford’s college-to-consulting pipeline, or shun that world in favor of classes in which I could write about queer rappers and racist Halloween costumes? I entered sophomore year with a notion that these were two divergent tracks, and that it was imperative that I pick one over the other lest I spend my post-graduate years in some sad, unemployable limbo.

I think this dynamic helps explain the infamous Stanford apathy. Embedded in our campus culture is the notion that pursuing a pre-professional major and getting an activist education are mutually exclusive acts. Continue reading

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PRACTICING COMPASSION: Infusing Activism With Altruism

by Jovel Queirolo, ’14

Stanford’s Project Compassion recently brought evolutionary biologist (and revolutionary) David Sloan Wilson to campus to discuss the evolutionary significance of altruism and compassion. He defined the term compassion, in biology, as awareness of suffering and the wish to relieve it. He defined altruism as concern for another’s welfare even at the expense of oneself. He explained that altruistic and compassionate creatures often sacrifice themselves for others, which is seemingly “not fit.” In evolutionary jargon, fitness means one’s ability to reproduce and pass on one’s genes.

The answer to this evolutionary puzzle, Wilson says, is that altruistic and compassionate groups are favored by natural selection even if an altruistic or compassionate individual is not. He presents a case featuring water striders – the research conducted by his former student, Omar Tonsi Eldakar. Continue reading

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DEBRIEF: Occupy the Future

No activist happening is complete without a proper debrief. We’d like to set up this space as a place for you to share your thoughts on Occupy the Future. Use the comment section of this post to reflect on today’s events, the direction of the movement, its rhetoric – whatever’s on your mind.

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Addressing Inequality on Campus

by Laurel Fish ‘14, on behalf of the Stanford Labor Action Coalition

With Stanford’s generous financial aid policies and all-you-care-to-eat meal plans, it’s easy to think that inequality ends when we step onto campus. We tutor in East Palo Alto, travel to Central America, host speakers from off campus, and volunteer in free clinics in order to experience “the real world.” What many forget however, is that poverty, inequality, and other unfair realities of “the real world” exist on our campus. The postcard visage of the Stanford Bubble is serviced, maintained, cooked, pruned, and repaired by workers.

Stanford workers are essential to our lives, but how many of us know their names, whether they have a manageable workload, or whether they make enough money to support their families? Yet more important than individual recognition, is institutional responsibility. Continue reading

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Students: Occupy the Future

by Rahael Gupta, ’12

Snow is falling in New York City. The NYPD forcefully cleared Zucotti Park last week. Protests sites all over the country have seen instances of violence and crime. The Occupy Movement is reaching a crossroads.

An impressive number of people have taken to the streets in the Movement’s name. Yet it remains to be seen how effective Occupy will actually be, with regard to driving the real structural change necessary to mitigate the recent surge in income inequality. Currently, protesters have organized themselves in a nonhierarchical fashion. They are diametrically opposed to involvement in electoral politics, and to traditional methods of effecting change.

This stance has served the movement well, because there is no figurehead for the police to negotiate with and for the media to berate with tough questions. Protesters rightly argue that their rejection of a vertical power structure and unspecific demands have allowed their following to become so large. It is appropriate at this time, however, to consider how the movement needs to further develop, such that it truly has teeth and is a real movement, as opposed to a string of heated protests. Continue reading

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Diversity in Higher Education

Just 8% of students from low-income communities will graduate from college by age 24.  What about the 92 percent?

In a money-driven world with college consultants, SAT prep classes, and paid tutors, the college admissions process has become almost a science that is rigged for the wealthy.  Students from affluent communities apply to colleges en masse with their enriched extracurricular activities, perfect GPAs, and high SAT scores.

For a student coming from an underserved community, the college application is an arduous process that can be overwhelming with the Common Application, exam submissions, and cycle of deadlines.  Without a guide, students can become lost and frustrated by the lack of support from their guidance counselor, family, and community.  Mostly in low-income communities, it is a harsh reality that there is only one guidance counselor for every 1,000 students in California.  There aren’t even enough hours in a day for a counselor to meet and explain the application process thoroughly.  How can we as Stanford students help expand college admissions resources?

The Phoenix Scholars is a free mentorship program that helps first-generation, low-income, and/or minority students rise into college. Continue reading

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