Tag Archives: workshop

My Problem with Having a Problem With Activism

by Conor Doherty, ’13

Activist workshopThe efficacy of Stanford’s student activist movements has been a frequent topic of conversation around campus and in the editorial pages of The Daily the last few weeks. Most prominently, outgoing Executive Editor Brendan O’Bryne wrote an article questioning our “campus’s definition of activism” and raising important concerns about troubling events and policies that have received little attention. While I disagree with some of Brendan’s comments about our the insularity of Stanford’s activist community and narrowing the scope of issues we should be addressing, I appreciate his call for more focused and effective engagement with pressing on-campus problems.

Others have been more dismissive of Stanford’s student activist movements. Toward the end of Fall Quarter, The Daily published an editorial explaining one student’s “problem with activism.” More recently, another writer went so far as the say that the word “activist” should be “banished” from the Stanford lexicon. On the surface, these “critiques” are broad and ambiguous. I recognize that, if you look past the dismissive facades, their author’s are (I think) calling for “better” activism, rather than no activism at all. However, their reductive use of straw man arguments is frustrating and undermines substantive discussion. I get that the “panel on muskrat rights in 19th-century Bulgaria” line was supposed to be funny but, as someone who has written a lot of bad satire, I know it when I see it. Continue reading

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White Fetish

by Janani Balasubramanian, ’12


A failing of the word ‘activism’ is its designation of certain activities as political engagement and the rest of our lives as some other floaty and apolitical space.  In reality, we are always enacting and interacting with the structures of power and social positions each of us inhabit.  My friend Alok and I were at a queer conference this weekend in Atlanta to facilitate the same workshop that we’re presenting tonight: ‘Because You’re Brown Honey Gurl!: A Dialogue about Race and Desire’.  Our intention was to bring to bear a conversation on spaces where desire, sex, and romance circulate as political spaces.  The project of queer liberation isn’t limited to our policy engagements or our organizing work — it is also about considering how we desire and are desired in white supremacist realities.

We use the term ‘sexual racism’ to describe the ways that racism and racist traumas inflect our romantic and sexual relations. 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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