Activism, the American Flag, & a New Issue of Stanford Politics Magazine

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Happy finals week! Take a study break to give the Monday Memo a read. This year’s first issue of Stanford Politics Magazine is out now, available online everywhere and in print at various locations on campus today.

The Stanford Review: Sigma Chi asked to remove American flag

Description: The Sigma Chi fraternity house at Stanford.
Image Credit: NBC Bay Area

A Stanford Review story last week alleged that, prior to being shut down, the Sigma Chi fraternity was asked to remove the American flag waving outside of their house by a Stanford administrator in order to “break away from stereotypes that plagued the house and to change its perception on campus.” The story was subsequently picked up by the Washington Examiner, who lamented the “anti-Americanism” of millennials.

But the reporting in the original Stanford Review piece raises some concerns. First, the allegation put forth was only based on one source: the account of a student and resident of the former Sigma Chi house at the time of the incident. Moreover, the story did not include a comment from the university and did not name the administrator involved. The Review article then points to “the absence of the national anthem at Stanford’s 2018 graduation ceremony” as evidence for growing spite for national pride. While this absence is true, Stanford has historically played “America the Beautiful” at commencement, not the national anthem, indicating that the Review’s inclusion of this detail is extremely misleading insomuch as it is supposed to convey Stanford’s increasing anti-Americanism. The Stanford administration released a statement following the article, saying that “Stanford students are absolutely welcome to display the American flag. Any suggestion to the contrary is at odds with the University’s values. Comments such as those alleged in the Stanford Review article suggesting that students take down the American flag have no place on our campus.”

Altogether, this article should be taken with a grain of salt, as the allegations it contains are largely unfounded.

Stanford Politics Magazine: December 2018

Description: Stanford Politics’ December 2018 magazine cover.

“If I [were] Stanford, I would be threatened by us”: How SCoPE 2035 became the most powerful activist group on campus


Description: SCoPE members Neel Rao ‘21 and Erica Knox ‘16 MS ‘18 at a protest for on-campus affordable housing during Family Weekend 2018.
Image Credit: SCoPE 2035

This issue’s cover story focuses on the Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 (SCoPE 2035), a student group that advocates for equitable outcomes from the General Use Permit (GUP) process, primarily in the areas of housing, transportation, labor provisions, and greenhouse gas emissions. ​In this feature, Roxy Bonafont and Emily Lemmerman explore the group’s relationship with the university and what has made them so unusually successful in their activism.

Leaving Religion at Home: Engaging Religious Thought and Action in American Society


Description: A man sitting in church.
Image Credit: Karl Fredrickson

“The notion of having both a ‘secular public self’ and a ‘religious private self’ is impossible: any private value system will influence decisions throughout all areas of life.” Read Nathalie Kiersznowski’s take on the role of religion in American politics from our most recent magazine magazine.

Second Chances: The Enduring Empathy of Prop 47


Description: Rich Uncle Pennybags, mascot of the Monopoly board game, “getting out of jail free.”
Image Credit: Emily O’Neal / Stanford Politics

In this piece from the magazine, freshman and new Stanford Politics staff writer Kyle Wang explores the strengths and flaws of California Prop 47 through the lens of his family’s personal experience along with conversations with a diverse set of interview subjects, including the Deputy Public Defender for Santa Clara County, the President of the California Police Chiefs Association, and a reformed juvenile offender.

Stanford Politics Magazine Preview: China’s Puzzling Islam Policy


Description: Painting of two people in Islamic dress.
Image Credit: Lorena Diosdado / Stanford Politics

If you haven’t yet read Wilson Liang’s analysis of the contrasting treatment of the Uighur and Hui Muslims in China, it may be worth your time. This piece was featured in last week’s Monday Memo and is also available in the magazine.

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The original version of this memo incorrectly credited an image to Total Frat Move when it was actually from NBC Bay Area.

Title IX Changes & More

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Welcome back from (a much needed) break! Here’s what you may have missed in the most recent Stanford-related news.

Stanford Politics Magazine Preview: China’s Puzzling Islam Policy


Description: Painting of two people in Islamic dress.
Photo Credit: Lorena Diosdado / Stanford Politics

“China’s crackdown in Xinjiang is fundamentally political in nature ... To the Chinese Communist Party, the Hui are Chinese who happen to be Muslim. The Uighurs, on the other hand, are Muslims who happen to live in China.”

Read Wilson Liang's first piece for Stanford Politics — an analysis of China's peculiar Islam policy. This article will be featured in our upcoming print magazine, which is scheduled to come out early next week. Keep an eye out for copies of the magazine on campus!

Stanford responds to DeVos’ new sexual assault regulations

Description: Betsy DeVos speaking at the 2018 CPAC.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Last Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released her department’s proposal for new regulations surrounding campus sexual assault. Key changes include narrowing the definition of sexual assault to behavior that is “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” rather than the Obama-era definition of any unwelcome sexual conduct, allowing the accused party to cross-examine the accuser, requiring a higher burden of proof, and diminishing the liability of universities. However, in a post to Notes on The Quad, Provost Persis Drell made it clear that Stanford’s Title IX process would not change, saying “we fully intend to continue our efforts to reject sexual violence in our community, to support survivors, to hold perpetrators accountable and to have fair adjudication processes.” The Stanford administration intends to participate in the public comment period for the new rules, and students who are interested in providing feedback can email Provost Drell.

Trump nominates Hoover fellow and former CENTCOM commander as Saudi ambassador

The White House announced President Trump’s intent to nominate retired four-star army General John Abizaid as the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a position that has been vacant since Trump took office, in the midst of the U.S.’s current tense relationship with the country. Gen. Abizaid is a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and worked with Stanford’s Preventative Defense Project. General Abizaid is known for overseeing the Iraq War as chief of the U.S. Central Command and has urged the U.S. to act as a leader in setting norms for military drone use as well as to take a more active role in the Middle East.

FedEx discontinues partnership with NRA

Description: A FedEx truck in a parking lot.
Photo Credit: Kelly / Wikimedia Commons

On Oct. 30, FedEx officially ended its partnership with the National Rifle Association, six months after over 200 members of the Stanford community signed a letter calling on Stanford to not renew their contract with FedEx in Tresidder Union unless FedEx ended its relationship with the NRA. While FedEx cited financial reasons for the break, pressure to do so has been increasing, as the NRA refused to alter its stance on gun control despite recent mass shootings. However, not all Stanford students are in agreement with the decision. In a statement to the Daily, SCR expressed their disappointment, saying:

“We think that capitulating to the left’s gun-grabbing, totalitarian tendencies reflects moral weakness unbecoming of a major corporation like Fedex. In fact, while we tend to oppose the concept of boycotts, we’d encourage all of our fellow patriots to consider their alternative options for package delivery.”

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Midterms, D'Souza, and Affirmative Action

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The last two weeks have been a lot in politics. Here’s your bi-weekly update, starting with an overview of the outcome of the midterm elections.

Midterm Election Results Breakdown

Description: The U.S. Capitol Building.
Photo Credit: Architect of the Capitol / Wikimedia Commons

The midterm elections happened on Tuesday. Here’s breakdown of the results and overall trends.


  • The 2018 midterm elections turned out to be the costliest Congressional elections in history, with Democrats tending to outraise the Republicans.

  • Voter turnout was the highest it has been for midterm elections in about half a century, especially among women, Latinos and young people.


  • Republicans were able to maintain control of the Senate, winning 51 seats to the Democrats’ 46. Three races have not yet been called.

  • The race in Florida between Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and current governor Rick Scott (R) is headed for a recount, and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and Democrat Mike Espy will face off again in a runoff election on Nov. 27 in Mississippi.

  • The Senate race between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally has been too close to call, although Synema has pulled ahead with 99% of precincts reporting.

  • The high profile race between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke galvanized the highest increase in voter turnout since the 2014 midterm elections, but Cruz was able to maintain his incumbency, winning with a margin of 2.6% the vote.

  • Democrats ended up with a net loss of 2 seats, losing seats in North Dakota, Missouri, and Indiana, and gaining a seat in Nevada. The Democrats faced a challenging map, having to defend 26 seats to the Republican’s 9.

House of Representatives

  • Democrats were able to gain the majority on the house and have so far gained 32 seats. 10 races are still undecided according to the New York Times.

  • A historic number of women and people of color were elected, including the first Native American and Muslim women elected to Congress.

  • Republicans no longer hold any seats in urban districts, highlighting geographic polarization.

Governor & State Elections

  • The highly anticipated Florida Governor race between Trump-endorsed Ron DeSantis and progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum is headed to a recount, with Gillum currently  trailing DeSantis by 33,684 votes (0.4%).

  • Republican Brian Kemp currently leads Democrat Stacey Abrams (who has yet to concede) in the controversial Georgia governor race.  Kemp currently leads with 50.3% of the vote, but if that percentage drops below 50% the race will automatically head to a runoff election in December.

  • In statewide elections, Democrats were able to gain hundreds of seats that Republicans had swept in the 2010 and 2014 elections.

Stanford in the Midterms

  • Many Stanford incumbents maintained their seats in Congress, including two senators (Sen. Dianne Feinstein ’55 (D-CA) and Tina Smith ’80 (D-MN) ), and at least seven in the House of Representatives.

  • Josh Hawley ‘02 (R-MO) unseated incumbent Claire McCaskill in one of the most expensive Senate races in history, and Democrat Mike Levin ‘01 flipped California’s 49th Congressional district (which had been previously held by Republican Darrell Issa).

SCR Invites Dinesh D’Souza to Campus

Description: Dinesh D’Souza speaking at the CPAC in 2012.
Photo Credit: Mark Taylor / Wikimedia Commons

Stanford College Republicans submitted a grant application to bring far-right author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza to speak on campus. D’Souza, a former fellow at the Hoover Institution, is known for promoting conservative conspiracy theories. In a piece for the Stanford Review, SCR defended their decision to invite him to campus, saying “While we may not agree with every argument D’Souza makes, his deconstruction of Progressivism makes him more than worthy of our invitation.” Currently, there are two petitions circulating in opposition to the event, as well as several students who believe that the move to invite D’Souza condones anti-Semitism. SCR intends to host D’Souza this winter.

Stanford Stands with Harvard on Admissions Case

Description: Elizabeth Cary Agassiz House at Harvard University.
Photo Credit: Daderot / Wikimedia Commons

Along with 15 other universities including all of the Ivy Leagues, Stanford filed an amicus brief supporting Harvard in the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard case concerning discrimination against Asian Americans in admissions. Stanford and the other universities underscore the importance of race-conscious admissions in the brief, saying that it contributes to creating a diverse student body and richer learning environment. In the brief, the filers say that holistic review of applicants must include race, as “it is artificial to consider an applicant’s experiences and perspectives while turning a blind eye to race. For many applicants their race has influenced, and will continue to influence, their experiences and perspectives.”

Fountain Hopper editor-in-chief ousted from role by predecessor (Ingram / Stanford Daily)

According to the Stanford Daily, last month, former editor-in-chief of the anonymous investigative newsletter the FoHo was removed from his role by last year’s editor-in-chief and current alumnus, Emma Johanningsmeier ‘18, over differences about the purpose of the publication. In a statement to the Daily, Johanningsmeier said:

“He was irrationally afraid of getting sued, and afraid of offending people. [His removal was] not because of any specific decisions he made that I disagreed with.”

Johanningsmeier has since appointed a new editor-in-chief and will continue to be involved with the publication.

Podcast with Congresswoman Anna Eschoo

The Stanford Politics Podcast team sat down with Congresswoman Anna Eschoo from California's 18th Congressional District to talk midterm elections, the Kavanaugh hearing, and what’s to come for California. On her own role in Congress, Eschoo said:

“I have the privilege of representing the most distinguished congressional district in the country. It is the home of innovation for our nation. There is so much that comes out of our district that people of our country and certainly the people of our world benefit from… it’s a wonderful challenge, it’s a delicious challenge to represent these people.”

Click the link above to listen to the rest.

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(1) Today’s memo originally incorrectly stated that former FoHo editor-in-chief Emma Johanningsmeier was in the class of ’16, but she is in fact in the class of ’18. This post has been updated to reflect this.
(2) The memo also incorrectly reported that the Florida Governor race was headed to a runoff, when it is in fact headed to a recount.

Dropped Charges, Troubling Memos, and More

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Week 5 is finally over! Take a break from studying to catch up on the past two weeks in Stanford-related news.

Stanford Reacts to Trump Memo on Gender

Description: Transgender military ban protest at the White House in 2017
Photo Credit: Ted Eytan / Wikimedia Commons

Following the Judge Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation hearing, the Stanford community is once again grappling with another highly contentious political issue: the Trump Administration’s memo defining gender as sex assigned at birth, disregarding other gender identities. This move will “roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law” gained during the Obama administration, according to the New York Times.

Stanford’s campus has long been supportive of transgender and gender non-conforming students, taking measures such as installing more gender neutral restrooms on campus over the last few years. This will not change, as Stanford Vice Provost of Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Vice President for Human Resources Elizabeth Zacharias reaffirmed the administration’s dedication to protecting all forms of gender, gender identity, and gender expression, noting that California’s state law will continue to do so as well. They also included a list of resources for those impacted, both emotionally and legally, by the potential changes.

Many student groups on campus also reaffirmed their support for members of the LGBTQ+ community and others affected by the memo. In an email addressed to the entire Stanford community, Queer Student Resources and the Weiland Health Initiative expressed their commitment to fighting for marginalized communities, saying: “We will continue to build solidarity and make change… we will not be erased.” They also called on allies of the community to continue showing respect and support and included a list of campus, local, and national resources. The Stanford Democrats expressed a similar point of view, as president Gabe Rosen said in a statement to the Daily that the group found the memo “appalling.”

Stanford College Republicans took the opposite stance, asserting in a Facebook post on Monday that they “hope President Trump’s administration follows through” and that “the GOP is the moral party and the pro-science party, and this represents the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that fact.” This statement is unsurprising given SCR’s history of promoting a “two genders only” platform, as seen in the description for their Make Stanford Great Again event held last spring.

The issue of gender identity is highly sensitive and has a significant impact on many members of the Stanford community. Stanford Politics will continue to keep you updated with regard to this and related issues, all of which are certain to gain momentum leading up to midterm elections.

Assault Charges Dropped

Almost a week after SCR President John Rice-Cameron pressed charges against Melissa Hernandez ‘21 after an alleged physical assault, SCR announced on Facebook that the charges were being dropped in an “expression of goodwill” and to “diffuse tension on campus.” The post also requested that Hernandez issue an apology for her actions:

We would hope that the student who assaulted our president last week will also do her part to contribute to a more respectful and civil Stanford, including by apologizing and acknowledging the right of all students to express their views peacefully.

Leaked RA Memo

On Oct. 14, an email from the staff of an all-freshman dorm in Stern hall detailing student’s behavior during the previous night, including levels of intoxication and specific names, was accidentally sent out to the entire dorm instead of just the RFs. An apology email from an RA was sent out to residents soon after the incident, followed by a more official apology email from the RFs. Here is an excerpt from the memo, as quoted by the Stanford Daily:

“Around 11:45 [p.m.] … [a student] had thrown up in the … bathroom,” the memo said. “[One student] and [another student] helped her clean it up and I provided Clorox wipes. [One student] was coherent and also helping clean.”

Stanford Community Vigil for Tree of Life

Description: Stanford community gathers at memorial vigil in White Plaza
Photo Credit: Chabad at Stanford

In light of the mass shooting that took place in the Tree of Life Congregation, a Pittsburgh synagogue, on Saturday morning, the Stanford community gathered on Sunday to honor the victims in a memorial vigil organized by the Jewish Student Association, Hillel, and Chabad at Stanford. The New York Times described the attack as one “among the deadliest against the Jewish community in the United States,” and students on all sides of the political spectrum condemned the incident. In a Facebook post, SCR offered prayers and expressed a commitment to “combating anti-Semitism.”

Stanford Politics Podcast is Back!

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Stanford Politics Podcast — bringing you insightful commentary on campus and national news as well as interviews with Stanford professors and administrators, student leaders and political figures — is back. Check out the first episode of the school year, “Midterms, Brett Kavanaugh, and Taylor Swift,” on SoundCloud, iTunes, or your preferred podcast-listening platform!

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PS: Don’t forget to vote in the midterms!

Kavanaugh Controversy and “Assault” on Campus


Welcome new readers, and welcome back old readers. Thanks for reading the Monday Memo, a newsletter by Stanford Politics. If this email was forwarded to you and you aren’t yet subscribed, take a moment to do so here.

Stanford Politics is an award-winning, non-partisan student newsmagazine. We're a relatively new publication, but we pride ourselves on the quality and professionalism of our content as well as the seriousness with which we take the practice of journalism.

We regularly publish news and opinion on our website, we have a bi-weekly podcast, and we print a magazine with features every quarter. We're called Stanford Politics, but we exclusively cover "politics" in the broadest sense of the term — really, anything that matters to people, whether that be on campus, locally, nationally, or internationally. We've created this weekly newsletter to keep you up-to-date with our best reporting and commentary as well as the most important stories by or about other Stanford affiliates.

So without further ado, please enjoy this week's Monday Memo.

Kavanaugh Controversy

Photo Credit: Ellie Utter

Recent weeks have been politically intense both on and off campus. Following Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the US Supreme Court despite multiple sexual assault accusations, student groups and other Stanford organizations chose to respond in a variety of different ways. The Black Community Services Center held an Intellectual Round Table on Friday, Oct. 12 to discuss the confirmation, the national response to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony, and the “culture of sexual assault on campus and in… broader communities.” The Womxn’s Coalition put up a “We believe survivors” wall on which students were encouraged to share messages in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault. A letter of support for Dr. Ford was forwarded to and signed by many students, and SARA will be holding a processing circle on Oct. 19.

On the other end of the political spectrum, Stanford College Republicans held a “Change My Mind” event in White Plaza where they proclaimed “Kavanaugh is innocent until proven guilty.” Reactions to the Republicans included an altercation and the subsequent filing of a police report.

Alleged Physical Assault

At around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, SCR President John Rice-Cameron ’20 called the police, alleging that Melinda Hernandez ’21 physically assaulted him at the aforementioned tabling event.

According to the Daily:

Hernandez and multiple other witnesses denied these allegations, claiming that she touched him without force… [She] claims she merely touched Rice-Cameron on the chest after he refused to stop video recording her without her consent.

Both parties later responded to the incident on social media. SCR’s Facebook page described the altercation as “the violent and totalitarian behavior of the unhinged Stanford left.” Hernandez, on the other hand, wrote in a previously-public Facebook post quoted by the Daily that SCR’s reaction was “clearly an exertion of power and privilege.”

“Those who know my character, from a distance or up close, know my fight in social justice lies in peace,” she said.

Stanford students across the political spectrum similarly took to social media to discuss and debate the incident, particularly in the campus meme group “Stanford Memes for Edgy Trees.” Many noted irony in this excerpt from Rice-Cameron’s statement to the Daily, especially in light of the Kavanaugh allegations:

“Nobody should be assaulted on campus, under any circumstances.”

This heated moment in campus politics, fueled by what’s going on in Washington, quickly made its way beyond the Stanford bubble. In fact, the Daily’s story has been picked up by various national news outlets, ranging from right-leaning publications like Fox News, the Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller, and Breitbart to more moderate/left-leaning ones like the Washington Post and the Mercury News.

Who is JRC anyway?

Photo Credit: Hanan Yajoor / Stanford Politics

New to Stanford? Out of the loop last spring? Not to worry -- we at Stanford Politics actually profiled Rice-Cameron in the cover story for our most recent print magazine this past May. To summarize: he’s the President of SCR and self-proclaimed “face of conservatism on campus.” He also happens to be Susan Rice’s son. Read the full story here.

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