Frankly Speaking: Do identity politics chill campus discourse?

Feb. 21, 2020, 1:38 a.m.

The Stanford Daily’s Opinions section is excited to reintroduce “Frankly Speaking,” a column that invites community members to weigh in on various campus news and debates. Frankly Speaking is aimed at extending discourse and debate on important subjects beyond Daily staffers. We want to hear from students across disciplines and social identities about their unique takes on the controversial topics and vital realities we confront as an institution. 

If you want to have your take on campus news published in The Daily, contribute to the next edition of Frankly Speaking at this link.

This weeks topic: Do identity politics chill campus discourse at Stanford?

The concept of identity politics defies an easy definition, but has come to describe an expansive range of activity and theory stemming from certain social, racial, ethnic, cultural or other identity groups’ shared experiences of injustice. This banner has grown to encompass movements including feminism and womxn’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights, disability rights and more.

Discussions surrounding identity politics, and the issues it has helped elevate, have become increasingly prominent on college campuses. But some iterations of identity politics, in locating injustice in systems that are upheld by individual actions, argue that certain speech is itself harmful to people of certain identities, and this speech should be discouraged or even banned. This has been most salient recently in resistance to speakers on campus who hold opinions deemed harmful by certain groups. 

Is this strand of identity politics in deep conflict with the traditionally liberal ideas of free discourse and exchange of ideas? More specifically, do identity politics on our campus create a culture that stifles our ability to talk openly and honestly about campus issues in particular and social issues in general? Or, is it high time that offensive comments, regardless of the context, be censured rather than given the legitimacy of publication or promotion? Do identity politics encourage members of more marginalized groups who have traditionally been silenced or stifled to speak out?  

Here’s the link again: If you have any questions, please email opinions ‘at’

We look forward to hearing from you.

— The Opinions Team, Volume 257

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