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Students chalk Jane Stanford Way with calls for policies, actions against anti-Black racism

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(Photo courtesy of Carin Ragland)

Students gathered on Thursday to cover Jane Stanford Way in chalk messages of protest and solidarity, joining nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and anti-Black racism highlighted by the recent deaths of George Floyd and others. 

Organizers began to gather in front of the Main Quad at 11 a.m. with chalk, gloves and water. By midday, messages and slogans stretched the length of the quad across Jane Stanford Way in colorful chalk. In the writing, students expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and called on Stanford’s administration and community to take action against police violence and racism.

“A lot of Black students and staff in the community have been having a lot of meetings and … conversations about this,” said Carin Ragland, a second-year Ph.D. student in biology and one of the event’s organizers. “And when you’re in it it feels like you have a lot of understanding and support … but the moment you step outside onto campus it’s back to ground zero. So I kind of wanted in this very challenging time for our Black students … to have something to look at and say, ‘It’s not just in my inbox, but this is something that everyone else is … thinking about and I’m not alone in this.’”

The event’s organizers called on Stanford’s administration to establish a weekly meeting with Black student groups to discuss issues of race on campus, and shared a petition that calls on Stanford to “limit external police presence” on campus and produce updated “anti-racist training” and “written policy delineating specific consequences for racial profiling, harassment, and hate crimes.” 

(Photo: DANIEL WU/The Stanford Daily)

In chalk, students shared other calls for action to Stanford’s administration and community.

“Actions speak louder than emails,” read one message written on Jane Stanford Way.

“If you care, open your dang purse,” read another.

Organizers also raised concerns about the degree of police presence on campus and individuals discriminately calling campus police on people of color. 

“A lot of this violence is being enforced by students and staff,” Ragland said. “When we are in our labs people will report that someone is like stealing something … we’ll be waiting for a friend outside of our dorm room, and someone says it’s someone’s trying to enter the building.”

“We would like to review the security guard training program and see if we can incorporate things like having conversations with groups of Black and Brown students [and] incorporating into their program an event with Black and Brown students so that they can see us outside of the context of just a random person walking around that they think looks suspicious,” she added.

The Daily has reached out to the Stanford University Department of Public Safety for comment. 

“These are extraordinarily difficult times that are affecting members of our university community profoundly and personally – especially those in our community who continue to face racial injustice and violence,” wrote University spokesperson E.J. Miranda in a statement to The Daily. “The safety and security of all members of our community are of utmost importance and no one should feel they are subject to unfair treatment or discrimination. We must, all of us, recommit ourselves to standing against racism and hatred, and for equity and inclusion.”

On Thursday evening, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole addressed issues of racial violence in an email to the community and said that the University is preparing a response. 

“The university is currently defining key actions to effect change in our community and also in the broader society,” she wrote. “I expect an announcement about these actions soon.”

At the event on Thursday afternoon, Ragland said she wanted the demonstration to “make it clear to the administration that emails are not going to be enough.”

“We want to have these meetings reoccurring to discuss and draft and propose and then pass,” she said. “Gestures of goodwill and support aren’t going to suffice, and right now what we’re looking for is policy.”

Contact Daniel Wu at dwu21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Daniel Wu '21 is a Desk Editor for News, and also contributes to Sports, Arts & Life and The Daily's Graphics team. Contact him at dwu21 'at' stanford.edu.