Stanford College Republicans to bring right-wing provocateur Matt Walsh to campus in March

Dec. 8, 2022, 11:14 p.m.

This article contains references to transphobia and queerphobia.

The Stanford College Republicans (SCR) will host an event in March with Matt Walsh, a right-wing political commentator, author and podcast host who has drawn criticism for transphobia in his recent film “What is a Woman?”

Walsh, an outspoken opponent of the LGBTQ+ and transgender communities, will discuss the film, which documents Walsh advocating his stance and interviewing various people, which he describes as “leftists,” about the titular question.

Walsh’s stop at Stanford follows his tour, also bearing the same name, of university campuses including the University of Alabama and the University of Houston.

The Undergraduate Senate roundly denounced Walsh and SCR’s decision to bring him to campus in a resolution signed by the Senate as a whole. “The Undergraduate Senate firmly opposes Matt Walsh and believes that his presence will create an unsafe environment on campus,” the Senate wrote.

Seamus Callaghan, a second-year Ph.D. student at the sustainability school and representative for SCR, defended the group’s decision in an email statement to The Daily, using language to describe gender affirming surgery that compared the medical procedure to “eugenics and lobotomies.”

“SCR believes it is vital to inform students who may have been affected by this ideology, or know someone who has, about the facts surrounding gender issues in order to make good decisions for their health and wellbeing,” he wrote.

The Undergraduate Senate resolution cited statistics that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth. At least 57 transgender or gender non-conforming people, mostly Black and Latinx transgender women, were fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2021, the resolution added.

“Violence against queer and trans folk continues to be a reality in this country,” the Senate wrote.

The upcoming Walsh event is the latest in a string of speaker events from the conservative campus group that have drawn criticism from students.

Last February, SCR invited former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for a speaking event. He spoke to students for roughly 30 minutes on his experiences as the vice president, the country’s democracy and political activism.

Before Pence’s visit, the group’s funding request was rejected twice by the Senate. Ultimately, SCR filed a case to the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Constitutional Council stating that the rejection violated the ASSU constitution.

According to Ishaan Singh ’24, a senator on the appropriations committee, SCR proposed having the Matt Walsh speaking event in the fall quarter, though their initial requests for funding did not pass because of paperwork issues.

Similar to last year’s event, SCR applied for $6,000 in ASSU funding for the Matt Walsh event, according to the body’s Appropriations Grants spreadsheet.

Once SCR filed the necessary paperwork, the appropriations committee sent the grant for legislative body approval on Nov. 29. The Senate approved the funding during its Dec. 3 meeting. Seven senators voted in favor of the motion, with two senators opposing and four senators abstaining.

Singh was one of the senators who abstained from voting.

“Constitutionally, we could lose our position in the Senate if we vote ‘no’ on something that follows all the constitutional rules for funding. The best I could do to show I was opposed to Matt Walsh in particular and him coming to campus was by abstaining,” Singh said.

In the same resolution denouncing Walsh, the Senate stated it will support queer students and address how it funds campus-wide events.

It specifically outlines the Senate’s communication with Queer Student Resources (QSR) and Women’s Community Center (WCC) to support trans and queer students. During the actual event, the Senate will endorse protest efforts to support trans and queer students, per the resolution.

In addition, the Senate has donated $1,000 of discretionary funding towards the Trans Day of Remembrance Event being hosted by the QSR and pledges to reserve an additional $1,000 in support of QSR and WCC programming.

“The reason why the Senate didn’t vote ‘no’ wasn’t because we support the event, the speaker, or SCR,” Singh said. “It was solely because we didn’t want to risk our status as an organization on campus. Based on our bylaws, we are not allowed to vote ‘no’ on funding that meets all the criteria.”

Callaghan said more finalized logistics would be publicized closer to the date of the event.

Grace Lee is a University desk editor and was formerly a Magazine editor.

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