Should Stanford University require the study of Western Civilization to earn a diploma? Last week a student petition asking Stanford University students to put to a vote that question passed the 350-signature threshold necessary for inclusion on a campuswide ballot, its backers reported.
More recently, however, a complaint has been lodged against the email campaign the conservative-leaning Stanford Review – whose editors penned the petition — undertook to garner support for their effort.
In an editorial Sunday titled “ASSU Election Commissioner Abuses Power to Silence Review Petition,” the Review reports that the student government’s elections commissioner “notified us that he had halted our petition on the grounds that the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes were emailed about the petition on the night of the deadline.”
The Review scoffed at this complaint, noting its absurdity given many other campus groups have done the same thing in the past.
“[T]he reason the Review was especially blindsided by this complaint was because mass emails have never caused a petition’s suspension before,” it noted. “… As recently as last week, two other petitions … that relied at least in part on email campaigns have passed through the Commissioner without complaint.”
“Why did the Commissioner not show a similar proactivity in investigating the other two petitions’ email campaigns? The Review posits it might have something to do with the Commissioner’s bias,” it added. “The Commissioner sent a long and explicitly anti-Western Civilization email to the Diaspora mailing list, criticizing the West as ‘perhaps the most infamous driver of slavery in the world.'”
So the student who believes the West is inherently evil is responsible for adjudicating an apparently baseless and biased complaint against a successful petition seeking to put the issue of teaching Western Civilization to a campus vote?
The Review writes that this commissioner is abusing his powers by blocking the petition, and it’s hard to disagree. Their call for his recusal and dismissal of the complaint is sound.
Read The Review’s entire editorial.
UPDATE: On the evening of March 14, the Stanford Review updated their readers with news that the allegations against their ballot campaign have been dismissed.
The Review reports:
This evening, the ASSU Elections Commissioner confirmed to us that the complaints mounted against our petition to institute a Western Civilization requirement have been dismissed. The decision was made after it became clear that no University or ASSU rule precluded the use of emails in campaigning.
The Review would like to thank the Commissioner for his clear decision and fair reasoning. We look forward to Spring Quarter elections and the discourse that our petition will continue to create.