The student body of Stanford University has rejected efforts made by a student group to restore a Western Civilization class requirement, with results from the vote showing less than 15% support — or fewer than 1 in 6.
The student group Stanford Review first made the push for the ballot initiative. If approved, all freshmen at the school would have been required to complete a course stretching over two quarters covering “the politics, history, philosophy, and culture of the Western world.” A similar requirement was previously implemented by the school, but it was put to an end in the 1980’s after a student campaign accused it of being racist and sexist, in addition to perpetuating a “European-Western and male bias.” Western Civilization courses have not been included on the school’s curriculum since that time.
The group argued that the courses are necessary to better understand the current campus culture at places including the University of Missouri and Yale University, where protests against racial oppression have recently taken place, reports Anthony Gockowski for Campus Reform.
“The West’s history of colonization and racial oppression is also essential to understanding why the events at Yale and Mizzou arose in the first place,” writers of the petition said. “Although Western history has stories of repression, so do the histories of every global civilization. And Western values of free speech, rationalism, and individual liberty fueled the intellectual destruction of colonialism in Western and other societies.”
In total, 370 students signed the petition in support of the requirement, reaching the number needed in order to include it as a ballot measure for the spring student government election at the school.
However, the proposal failed by a landslide, with only 342 votes in favor and 1,992 votes against it, reports Blake Neff for The Daily Caller.
Students who signed the petition were harassed and were told that their names were being assembled in case they ever decided to run for political office. The petition was temporarily suspended by the campus elections commissioner after a number of accusations were noted.
Many Stanford communities have stood against the proposal in a variety of ways. One member of a low-income advocacy group at the school was suspended after word reached the group that he had written an anonymous piece in support of the proposal. Meanwhile, an article written in The Stanford Daily suggested that a proposal acceptance would mean “centering Stanford education on upholding white supremacy, capitalism and colonialism, and all other oppressive systems that flow from Western civilizations.”
Meanwhile, over 90% of the student body voted in favor of an initiative that would require the school to implement a new campus climate survey in an effort to determine the rate of sexual assault on campus. Although the school already put out a similar survey in 2015, activists were outraged to learn that the sexual assault rate was found to be 1.9%, which they felt was much too low and did not represent the severity of the problem on the Stanford campus.