Take back the mic: Racists are not welcome here

Feb. 14, 2018, 5:00 a.m.

“The United States already has policies that inadvertently social-engineer who has babies, and it is encouraging the wrong women … The technically precise description of America’s fertility policy is that it subsidizes births among poor women, who are also disproportionately at the low end of the intelligence distribution.” — “The Bell Curve”

To President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell:

On February 22nd, public figure Charles Murray will be speaking at the Hoover Institute as a part of the Cardinal Conversations speaker series. We, a coalition of concerned Stanford community members, are calling on the administration to reconsider the voices being prioritized by Cardinal Conversations, the Hoover Institution and on Stanford’s campus more broadly.

Charles Murray is not one of today’s leading intellectuals. He has never been an intellectual at all. Over the course of his career, Murray has cited flimsy evidence, relied on flawed statistical procedures and miscalculations and ignored data that contradict his theories, all the while capitalizing on the controversy generated by his ideas. Murray’s most infamous argument, which he continues to defend, is that the immutable genetics of black and brown people make them less intelligent than white people. Numerous academics, including an American Psychological Association task force, have refuted this claim with the vigorous evidentiary backing and statistical expertise that Murray himself eschews. Murray’s work is not an academic undertaking. It is a foundation for white supremacy. Providing Charles Murray a platform as an intellectual undermines the university’s commitment to academic integrity and exposes the racism, sexism and classism that has thrived at Stanford since its foundation.

The goal of Cardinal Conversations is to initiate “a series of discussions with well-known individuals who hold contrasting views on consequential subjects.” We agree that it is important to hold these debates between intellectuals with conflicting views and present students with opposing narratives. However, Cardinal Conversations’ Steering Committee, which claims to represent student voices, does not reflect the broad range of political beliefs and identities on campus. There is also no public knowledge on how the Committee was formed. The leadership of Cardinal Conversations as a whole leans toward the right of the political spectrum, thus the speakers the initiative invites neither represent both sides of the story nor raise the voices of communities that have been historically silenced.

Charles Murray’s oppressive, racist and meritless pseudo-science is an affront to all people of color, low-income individuals and female-identifying members of our community. For his discredited “scholarship” to be given an endorsement from our administration and a platform at our university is unacceptable and offensive. This month is one of national celebration of the historical contributions of Black people in our country; instead of joining in this celebration, Stanford has chosen to empower a white supremacist. We therefore urge our administration to do what Cardinal Conversations has failed to do: “Explore a diversity of ideas on challenging issues.” We call on the administration of Stanford University to rescind Charles Murray’s invitation and denounce his racist views. Moreover, we formally request a meeting with President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell to address our well-founded concerns over the continued institutional silencing of the voices of people of color. We must put an end to uplifting racists and bigots on this campus; instead, we demand that our administration pass the mic and uplift marginalized voices.


Coalition of Concerned Students

Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicano Aztlan

Black Student Union

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – Stanford

Stanford Sanctuary Now

Who’s Teaching Us?

Stanford Asian American Activist Committee
Students for the Liberation of All People

Stanford Democrats

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