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Safety message regarding protests

The dean of students emails all students with safety information.

This message from Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Mona Hicks was emailed to all students. 

Dear students,

As protest organizers around the world plan non-violent demonstrations, we must also recognize the grief and pain that are thrust into these spaces. Despite efforts to organize civilly, there are times when some will engage in destructive or harmful behavior. In every case, the well-being of our students is our top priority. 

Specifically, there are three main things that I am concerned about.  

1. The public health threat due to the global pandemic continues. While I completely understand the undeniable intersections of systemic oppression for minoritized people, we have been working day and night to communicate the research findings, best practices, and practical impact of COVID-19 on our community and university through Stanford Health Alerts. Your health and the safety of our community is always at the fore, and participating in large public gatherings increases the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The pandemic alone is a cataclysmic event that may activate long-term psychological effects. Discovering who you are, navigating community, showing abiding support for and solidarity with things you believe in, and finding your meaning and purpose are critical to the college experience. Of equal significance, the emotional toll of anxiety, anger and sadness that minoritized students, and particularly Black and Brown students, may carry on a daily basis is overwhelming. Your mental health and well-being cannot be underemphasized. Please take care of yourself. Ask for help. You are not alone. Please do not hesitate to contact your Residence Deanseek help from CAPS or connect with a Community Center.

2. We are aware that some students have been or may be deciding whether to participate in protests or demonstrations all over the globe. As consenting adults, we respect your right to decide whether or not to participate. There are many ways to activate your beliefs. Nonetheless, we offer the following safety tips and considerations should you choose to participate in demonstrations and protests:

a. Protests are expected to be civil and non-violent. But it is possible that some situations may escalate. While we know your actions will be civil, none of us can predict how others will respond. If you decide to participate, we urge you to be aware of your surroundings and circumstances. Please communicate with others, including your loved ones, about your plans. Many places of worship in areas where demonstrations are taking place may be identified as a place of prayer, respite and refuge.

b. Public transportation and some streets could be affected by off-campus protests. 

c. Consider participating with a friend or in groups, and do your best to maintain physical distancing practices. Try to navigate with alternative routes in mind.

d. Below are links to general information about what you may expect to experience in a civil protest or demonstration. This information is for reference only and does not specifically address any possible protests or demonstrations.

i. Stanford Libraries has resources under the “Know Your Rights” Guides on protests and demonstrations.

ii. Consider downloading mobile apps like “Mobile Justice” from the ACLU, along with those of local news stations, to either document your experience or get up-to-date news in your area.

iii. Remember that your physical and emotional safety are a priority. Again, you have the right to consent in all situations. Your digital safety is also important. Please consider resources such as these Stanford best practices for mobile devices and this Wired article on protesting safely in the age of digital surveillance (May 31, 2020).

3. Lastly, on-campus events are prohibited at this time. If you are considering a campus demonstration of any kind, for your safety please contact the Office of Student Engagement.

Update, June 6: You should be aware that the Santa Clara County Public Health Order prohibits public gatherings and effective Friday, June 5 only outdoor ceremonies and religious gatherings in groups of 25 or less are allowed.  In all cases, social distancing rules must be followed.  We urge students and members of our community to wear masks when outside on campus and to stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not members of your household unit.

I appreciate all of the emails and texts of solidarity and encouragement that I have received in my short tenure at Stanford. As a Black woman, I am also struggling to make meaning in our world today, but your humanity gives me hope -- your energy, your education, your truth, and your purpose. This loving refrain from Assata Shakur still rings true as I shelter-in-place: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Please keep safe and stay healthy. 


With love, support, and solidarity,

Dr. Mona