Widgets Magazine

At long-range planning town hall, social justice takes center stage

President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Drell discussed long-range planning and social justice Friday (Courtesy of Stanford News).

At a town hall last Friday focused on seeking suggestions for the University’s long-range planning process, students questioned Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell about the University’s support of social justice initiatives.

The president and provost opened the floor for questions from the community after outlining the long-range planning process, which began in an official capacity with a call for ideas and proposals from individuals and groups across the University earlier this month. The long-range planning process will attempt to shape Stanford’s priorities in the next ten to 15 years and beyond.

At the meeting, questions from undergraduate and graduate students in particular centered around the University’s role in social justice initiatives, both on campus and as a force in the community.

Emma Hartung ’17 of Stanford Sanctuary Now – a group demanding University commitment to welcoming, protecting and supporting undocumented students and campus staff – asked whether the University was financially committed to supporting immigrant workers on campus through the expansion of educational opportunities for workers and legal defense against deportation.

“We are committed to the community we have, both our students and workers,” Drell responded.

In a statement to The Daily after the town hall, Hartung wrote that Drell’s response seemed lacking.

“Stanford Sanctuary Now was not satisfied with the President and Provost’s responses, or with our previous meetings with the University, because we’re still waiting for Stanford to go beyond private support and commit to the urgent and proactive actions that undocumented and immigrant communities on and off campus need,” she wrote. “The town hall was one of many signs that we need to come together as a community if we want this university to do better.”

Other concerns raised by students included University divestment from private prisons and detention centers, sexual assault on campus, affordable housing for graduate students and resources for prospective students from marginalized communities.

According to Susan B. Ford Professor of Biology Susan McConnell, who is also co-chair of the steering group that will oversee community-related proposals, one of the top priorities within the planning process is listening to concerns from students, staff and faculty.

“Right now my priority is outreach and listening – trying to understand what issues people really want to deal with, and what opportunities people would like to project into the long-range planning process,” McConnell said.

McConnell encouraged students to raise their concerns by submitting an idea or proposal through the long-range planning website between now and June, a call that Tessier-Lavigne echoed.

“It’s sufficient if you want to identify an issue, a problem, an opportunity – it’s even better and more helpful if you go on [to the long-range planning website] and give your thoughts on how we can tackle that,” Tessier-Lavigne said.

Tessier-Lavigne added that the website has received about 50 proposals since the beginning of the long-range planning process, of which only 15 percent were from students. The planning process welcomes ideas and proposals from faculty, staff, students and academic staff at all stages of development covering all aspects of the University, including those covered by the four steering groups: Education, Research, Our Community and Engagement Beyond our University.

“The important thing is to stimulate the community to think about the issues,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “We don’t want people to feel constrained by having to have a polished, finished product.”

When the first phase of proposal collection is completed in June, the steering groups will analyze the proposals, followed by a synthesis of ideas by the president, provost and executive cabinet.

The entire long-range planning process is expected to be completed by February 2018.

This article has been updated with commentary from McConnell.

Contact Zoe Sayler at zoeneile@stanford.edu.

  • Forest Peterson

    California has a long history of welcoming immigrants from both across the Pacific and from the Baja Peninsula and beyond. There are low points in that history — there was the suppression of rights for asian americans for a prolonged period, the decimation of the California peoples, and the legal theft of properties during the transition from Mexican governance to United States governance. Not all Californians engaged in these oppressive acts — but we must be vigilant that we do not let those among us that would perpetuate these acts from having the lack of oversight that allowed these to happen in the past. As a woman said long ago, in California, the flags come and go, but the people, we stay the same. Thank you Emma for asking the right questions.

  • Dave

    California isn’t bankrupt because of undocumented citizens. Please cite your source to support that claim.

  • Joe Citizen

    Are you aware that in the recent part, about half the state budget is for education, and about half the K-12 kids were either illegal immigrants or the children of illegal immigrants?
    Are you aware of the state budget shortfalls?
    Technically we are not bankrupt until we declare it or all our checks bounce, but the statement is basically correct.
    Here is a link to some numbers on this: http://www.nationaleconomicseditorial.com/2017/02/21/costs-illegal-immigration-california/

    Right now, Brown is claiming a nearly balanced budget – BUT, remember, he’s starting a publicity campaign to tell us we need to spend more money on roads and such – but roads last much longer in California than elsewhere = sidewalks too – many other public works – and, except for real estate taxes, limited by Prop 13, we have the highest taxes in the US – sales tax around 10%, income tax likewise.

    If Browns budget is imbalanced by around $3B shortfall, but illegals cost $30B per year – we may not go broke imminently, but still rather than rapidly paying down outstanding debt and getting out of the hole, we will be increasing debt by that $3b this year, and who knows how much later.

    If we had that $30B per year, unclaimed by the illegals – we’d be able to pay down debt very rapidly, AND fix the roads, with NO tax increases – no one can say the situation is not very bad. Public works are falling apart and we can’t do anything about it, except make ourselves the most taxed people on earth by giving away yet more we do not have.

    I did exaggerate with the “bankrupt” comment but the trend is very bad.

    Another link to California Debt – note, the $400B could be paid down in about 15 years without the cost of illegals. Call it bankruptcy or not, being in so much debt it becomes impossible to do anything – to take on more projects, even if needed because of population increase – is a bad place to be. The incredibly over generous public employee pay and benefits of course are a big part of it, but would not be ruinous without illegal immigration.

  • Dave

    You’re wrong about education costing the state more than half the budget. Take a look at the actual budget figures from the CA state budget website:


    For this year, 2016-2017, spending on K12 and higher education is $66,354,000,000 (see page marked 9 in the PDF above). The total budget is $170,863,000,000.

    That education spending is 39% of the budget–not 50%. A difference of 11% is not trivial.

    The fact that you have the budget spending numbers so wrong leads me to believe that the rest of the numbers you’re using are bogus as well. The website National Economics Editorial also looks heavily conservatively biased, so I’d take anything that site says with a grain of salt.

    Also, why are children of illegal immigrants part of the conversation? I assume since you’re specifying children *of* illegal immigrants and illegal immigrants as separate that the children *of* illegal immigrants are legal citizens of the US and were likely born here. Why do you want to deny our citizens the education they’re entitled to?

  • Joe Citizen

    As to the children of illegals – they are the result of illegal immigration and so are a valid basis for comparison of “what if illegal immigration had ended 20 years ago? ” vs the situation we actually have. AND, I will be quite frank – they have no legitimate right to citizenship – the Constitutional amendment on which that claim is based was passed so that former slave states would not limit the citizenship of former slaves – it had nothing to do with illegal immigrants – it says something like “people born in the United States and SUBJECT TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE UNITED STATES – there is no reason the child of parents here illegally should be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States when they are, in most cases, automatically citizens of their parent’s home country – just as people born to US Citizens in foreign countries are US Citizens.

    I don’t care about 100 years of bad case law – or however long its’ been – what that means in practical terms is the US becomes the victim of endless abuses – someone sneaks across the border the last couple days of her pregnancy, gives birth in the US . and her child is a US citizen, and an anchor baby enabling the entire family, if they sneak in and establish a residence, to be undeportable under the old rules used, that deporting the family would have a deleterious effect on a US Citizen, the baby. That was NEVER what the original amendment intended – so yes, such people should not be citizens, and I DO regard them as not being owed anything by the US – NO- we need to get a new Supreme Court which will reinterpret this law, the way it was intended., or to pass a Constitutional Amendment. NO citizenship by birth.

    As for 50% vs. 39% of California’s budget – first off, I do not accept the numbers automatically, because they have strong motives to lie about them – but still, half of the lower figure, about $17B per year, is the difference between crushing debt and solvency.

    -And perhaps you did not consider this, but even attaining a balanced budget, while still retaining the huge numbers of illegals, is not acceptable. The University of California used to be FREE – now it costs about as much as many other state universities – after years of battles over it, tuition was finally instituted, and has been raised countless times, so that it’s no longer a benefit of living in California- it’s the same price as elsewhere.

    K-12 schools used to have all kind of programs that no longer exist – did you go to a public school in California? Have music and afterschool programs? Those are gone over huge areas now – YES, the budget is balanced – BECAUSE they lowered services below first world levels – which they had to do because Latinos have far more babies than they can afford, far more than they can pay for – that’s why the schools in Mexico do not exist at all – in theory one has the right to public education up to around 16 – what people who lived there told me was, if you did not pay the officials, you did not get a space – and really, it’s not corruption so much as the money simply is not there – that is what Latinos do- drive themselves, and everyone around them, into poverty by breeding like rabbits. Any competent honest economist knows this – can’t talk about it on campus of course – but they all know.