Opinion | SCR does not deserve its place on campus

Opinion by Claire Dinshaw
Feb. 25, 2021, 8:36 p.m.

Trigger warning: mention of transphobic language

This past week, Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial concluded in the Senate. Much of the trial concerned the violent language Trump used leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Unfortunately, the insurrection and trial have not inspired further investigation of the discriminatory, violent language used by other organizations and individuals. Stanford is one institution where such an investigation is long overdue. There are multiple groups on campus that have platformed and promoted racist, misogynistic and hateful rhetoric over the years. 

But one group stands among the rest as the most consistently unpunished offender: the Stanford College Republicans (SCR). SCR has frequently provided a platform, or have themselves used, hateful and discriminatory rhetoric that serves to dehumanize groups of students that are members of the Stanford community. Furthermore, they have caused the doxxing of students and professors. SCR’s consistent disregard for student safety and unwillingness to engage in good-faith debates are grounds for removing them from campus.

It only takes one glance at SCR’s social media presence to understand that they have come to stand for little more than hate and division. Their Twitter account elevates the voice of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a noted conspiracy theorist who has previously stated that she does not believe 9/11 occurred and that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which resulted in the death of 20 children and six staff, was staged. Several of SCR’s retweets support the well-debunked theory that the 2020 presidential election was stolen or rigged. The group’s social media also displays hateful and discriminatory rhetoric. One Facebook post from January of this year states that the “transgender identity” is a “perverse and farcical […] ideology,” a statement which undermines the humanity and existence of trans people, including those who are part of our community.   

Beyond their social media posts, SCR has proven itself to be a dangerous and menacing presence on campus. First, SCR has been complicit in the threatening and doxxing of multiple students and faculty members. David Palumbo-Liu, a Stanford professor, was sent death threats following a piece published in The Stanford Review by two SCR members. SCR has also targeted many undergraduates. One student was targeted by SCR for controversial remarks posted on his Twitter page, resulting in online harassment. Another faced threats after SCR publicly denigrated her on their Facebook following an event that SCR alleged resulted in a physical altercation. Other witnesses stated the student had simply touched an SCR member’s chest after he refused to stop recording her. 

Despite these incidents, SCR has not shied away from continuing to publish student names and identities on conservative websites without asking permission. In 2019, prior to a Ben Shapiro rally, some students, while protesting Shapiro’s appearance, attempted to wash chalk advertising the event off White Plaza. SCR filmed the occurrence and, instead of reporting to internal University channels, posted it on a conservative media site, exposing the students to the threat of doxxing. 

Although SCR may have had a disagreement with each of the individuals it targeted and exposed, it is never acceptable for any organization to intentionally subject a private individual to threats, particularly those that are violent in nature and that originate from outside the Stanford community. 

Furthermore, SCR is an irresponsible participant in Stanford discourse. My first introduction to SCR was their “Change My Mind” series. During this series, SCR would write a ‘controversial stance’ on a poster board and display it in White Plaza, where hundreds or thousands of students would see it on their way to class. Some of the discussions this series was attempting to begin, such as the validity of socialism, had the potential to become genuine dialogues. Other posters used adversarial and intentionally alarmist phrasing. For example, in one “Change my Mind” series, SCR hung large poster boards stating “Abortion is Murder.” Although I am pro-choice, I do believe that anti-abortion activists have a right to state their case. However, prominently displaying this slogan does not advance respectful dialogue. Furthermore, given the poster’s location in White Plaza, it is likely that a student, faculty or staff member who had personal experience with abortion was confronted with this messaging without warning. 

Beyond this series, there is the long history of SCR inviting speakers with racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic viewpoints to campus. In 2017, SCR invited Robert Spencer, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center called one of America’s most “prolific and vociferous anti-Muslim propagandists.”  Spencer later obtained and published the personal information of some students who protested his appearance, resulting in them receiving threatening emails. In 2018, SCR invited Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens. In an advertisement for this event on his Twitter, Kirk wrote that he and Owens planned to discuss the claim that there are only two genders. Later that year, SCR invited Dinesh D’Souza, who previously re-tweeted anti-Semitic content and claimed the 2017 Charlottesville white nationalist rally was staged.

These actions warrant SCR’s removal from the Stanford community. Put simply, SCR should no longer be allowed to operate on campus. In any community, there is an unspoken social contract. That contract must include space for differing opinions, but it also must include a commitment to community members’ safety and well-being. SCR has broken this contract countless times.

I am not against the presence of a Republican student group, but it must be a group which engages in respectful dialogue rather than hateful attacks against student groups and individual identities. If Stanford College Republicans were to be abolished and another Republican group took its place, that new group would perhaps be a larger, more influential presence on campus. 

Everyone on a college campus must have some commitment to student well-being, some commitment to ensure students feel safe on that campus each day. Allowing discourse which targets students for their religion, gender identity, race or past personal decisions undermines that commitment. The personal threats and attacks Stanford community members have faced as a result of SCR’s actions demonstrate the corrosive and dangerous impact SCR has on the Stanford community. 

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Claire Dinshaw is a rising senior majoring in economics and minoring in political science and feminism, gender and sexuality studies. She is originally from Connecticut. In her free time she enjoys attempting to cook and playing Tetris. Contact at [email protected]

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