Statement about support and resources for students as crises unfold worldwide
We are writing today with care and concern for all students in light of world events over the past several weeks. This weekend, like many of you, we followed with deep concern the devastating crisis in Israel and Palestine.
We have spent the past few days and continue now to collaborate with colleagues campuswide on supporting students. Our Dean of Students Office is reaching out individually to students with home addresses of record in the region. We know that many students who are directly impacted may have other home addresses of record, so we are working with community centers and other campus organizations to reach as many students as possible. All university affiliates registered as currently traveling in the region have been contacted and report that they are safe and have departed.
We know that others in our community are in crisis as family members navigate conflicts and disasters in other parts of the world, including the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and the catastrophic earthquake in Afghanistan in the past month. Our Dean of Students Office has also reached out to students from these regions for care and support.
If you or a friend need urgent assistance, please connect with either the Resident Director On-Call for undergraduate students (650-504-8022) or the Graduate Life Office Dean On-Call for graduate students (650-723-7288, pager ID #25085). For non-urgent assistance, please reach out to the Dean of Students Office at email@example.com.
Some of you have connected with administrators to ask if the university will take a position or issue a statement on these crises. Students are also asking about banners about the crisis in Israel and Palestine that appeared outside campus buildings over the weekend. Additionally, students have come forward to let us know they fear for their personal safety because of the great amount of anger that is emerging in response to the news we’re all watching on global affairs. We have responded to individual students who have contacted us, and we would like to share this information more broadly with all of you through the questions and answers section below.
In closing, it is our sincere hope that each of you will take the time you need to think through how you are feeling and what you may need at this time. We would like to thank both Hillel at Stanford and the Markaz Resource Center for offering support and community to so many students now and always. We’d also like to thank all of you who are checking in with friends, and checking in with us. Please feel free to write to us with your questions, concerns, and suggestions.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Dean for Religious and Spiritual Life
Questions and answers
Will the university take a position on the Israel-Palestine or Armenia-Azerbaijan crises?
Stanford University as an institution does not take positions on geopolitical issues and news events. This is grounded in a principled belief that the appropriate role of university administrators in relation to geopolitical events is not to take positions or issue statements, but to create an environment in which faculty and students are free to develop and exchange ideas free from institutional orthodoxy. As a general matter, Stanford is unambiguously opposed to all forms of racial, ethnic, or religious hatred. The university encourages respectful discourse and communication across differences, and works to support students of all backgrounds, nationalities, and religions in successfully pursuing their studies and the broader experience of campus life and engagement.
Will the university remove or condemn banners that are appearing on campus?
The university administration does not typically comment on students’ constitutionally protected speech, as to do so might chill students’ free expression. It is important to remember that the First Amendment and California law protect a variety of speech that some listeners may find offensive. In some instances, expression may cross the line into constitutionally unprotected threats or harassment, which are not permitted under both the law and campus policies. The banners we have seen do not appear to cross that legal boundary, but they do run afoul of the university’s viewpoint-neutral time, place and manner rules.
The university has content- and viewpoint-neutral time, place and manner rules (here and here) that restrict the types of signs that may be hung on campus buildings, independent of the content or viewpoint of the signs. Banners recently hung on Tresidder, Old Union, the Clubhouse and similar locations violated these rules and were removed. An effort is being made to identify the individuals who hung the banners so they may be advised where the banners may be posted without violating university rules. These removals are based on the location of the banners, not the content or viewpoint expressed.
What is the university doing to keep students safe at this time of heightened tensions in connection with world events?
The physical safety of all of our students is a priority, and anyone receiving any type of targeted or personal threat (as distinct from observing public political speech) should immediately contact the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (650) 723-9633. In an emergency, call 911. DPS is collaborating with Hillel at Stanford and the Markaz Resource Center to understand community needs and take appropriate action, and is prepared to provide additional security elsewhere on campus as requested.