Stanford ignores calls to condemn Sen. Josh Hawley ’02

Jan. 19, 2021, 9:21 p.m.

Stanford students, faculty and alums have united in calling for the University to condemn former undergraduate Sen. Josh Hawley ’02 (R-Mo.). But despite sending multiple emails condemning the events at the Capitol, the University has yet to directly address the actions of Hawley or respond to The Daily’s requests for comment.

The outrage comes after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress was in session and set to ratify the electoral college vote count. The insurrection was inspired by unfounded claims and insinuations of fraud in the 2020 election, which have been repeatedly pushed by President Trump and other GOP members, including Hawley. Before the pro-Trump mob entered the Capitol, Hawley was seen raising a fist of solidarity toward the rioters. 

Hawley did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

In a petition, Stanford students, alumni and educators condemned Hawley, describing his recent actions as “open sedition against the United States.” The petition calls for Hawley to resign from his Senate seat and calls on the University to sever all ties with Hawley “to the maximum extent.” As of Tuesday, the petition has over 8,000 signatures. 

Even those close with Hawley, including Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Stanford professor David Kennedy, say they are taken aback by Hawley’s recent actions. 

Kennedy, who mentored Hawley during his time at Stanford and contributed the foreword to Hawley’s book about Theodore Roosevelt, wrote in a statement to The Daily that the senator was “a supremely talented student: capaciously curious, deeply thought yet with lightning-quick intellectual reflexes, focused, disciplined, hard-working, high-minded, well-spoken, possessed of uncommon writerly chops and constantly displaying balanced, informed historical judgment.”

“How all those impressive gifts led to this outcome is a puzzle to me,” he added. 

Additionally, a letter written to the Stanford Alumni Association (SAA) board of directors calls on the board to expel Hawley from the group. The letter, which has almost 1,000 signatures, describes Hawley as a “growing fascist threat to the United States.” The letter strongly urges the board to ban Hawley, as to “not allow Stanford alumni and resources to become complicit in advancing his harmful and unconscionable agenda.” 

The letter also describes Hawley’s statements as violating SAA’s Code of Conduct, which states that “Stanford reserves the right to warn, suspend or ban any person from access to constituent resources and events whose behavior does not uphold the values of respect, integrity, honesty and fairness.”

Debashish Bakshi ’08, who authored the letter, described the immediate reaction in a written statement to The Daily as “swift and clear.”

“In taking decisive action,” he wrote, “SAA would join the ever-growing number of institutions that have exercised their First Amendment right to cut ties with those like Sen. Hawley who would set fire to democracy for the sake of political ambition.”

The SAA board is planning on discussing the status of Hawley soon, according to Bakshi.

The board responded to Bakshi’s email, condemning the riot as an “unprecedented assault on the Constitution and our democratic form of government.”

The response indicated that several other letters were sent to the SAA and its board in a critique of Hawley. The board, however, has yet to take concrete action, citing “the diversity of our Board” not being “fully united on every aspect of this conversation,” the board wrote in an email to The Daily.

Contact Nina Iskandarsjach at ninaisk ‘at’

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