No Woody Wilson Way At Stanford

Harvard Law School has decided to rid itself of its crest, because it’s “based on the coat of arms of Isaac Royall, Jr., a New England slaveowner whose will endowed Harvard’s first law chair.”  The forces of tradition have made the reasoned decision not to fight. It’s a friggin’ crest. It’s just not worth the effort to oppose it, and so (subject to approval by the ignominious “corporation”) the eradication of the slaveowning Royalls from HLS has prevailed.

The controversy has become the most serious conversation about race and wheat since a black man creamed it. This morning, it looks like the forces of change got their way.

Not even Elie Mystal misses the empty symbolism here, but if it makes the children happy, good on them.

But while Princeton ponders the value of ridding its campus of the harsh sound of the 28th president’s name, Stanford is busy trying to figure out the new rules of social justice naming.

President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy will form a committee to establish principles for reconsidering and renaming campus streets and buildings, and to apply those principles “first and foremost” to places that honor Junipero Serra, whose mixed legacy as the founder of the mission network in California has raised concerns among students.

Father Serra? Oh yes, he’s a goner.

Etchemendy said the university’s founders, Jane and Leland Stanford, and its first president, David Starr Jordan, named many campus streets and buildings after historical California figures.

“Not all of those names are names of people that have unblemished histories,” Etchemendy said. “So we want to be able to apply the principles, not just to the Serra name but to other names to determine whether or not they should be changed.”

How can anyone expect students to be able to learn in buildings named after people without unblemished histories?  Do you not realize the trauma that causes, compelling them to hide in puppy rooms while they can’t eat, sleep or have consensual sex with people they’ve hooked up with on Tinder?

Last month, the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate Student Council of the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) passed resolutions requesting that the university rename streets and buildings currently bearing the name of Father Junipero Serra out of respect for the indigenous and Native American communities.

Granted, part of our legacy is how horribly we treated Indians. And not to add insult to injury, but even to call “indigenous and Native American communities” Indians is offensive, even though it was the norm until recent sensitivity made it unacceptable.  Not even casinos can ease the pain. And we weren’t any better toward slaves, who didn’t even get casinos out of the deal.

But will Stanford cure American history by renaming the student center after Ta-Nehisi Coates?  Will the bánh mi taste better at the Susan B. Anthony cafeteria?  Will they learn more when taught by the Maya Angelou Professor of Poetry?  And how will they find each other when every street is named Martin Luther King Boulevard? Oh wait, he doesn’t pass muster either, that womanizer.

Or, a modest suggestion as to how best to spend one’s time instead.  Perhaps students could study hard, go to law school where they will learn to toughen up so they can stand next to a person who was beaten and overcharged, and defend the crap out him. Or perhaps represent the family of a person wrongfully killed, so that his children can eat dinner, wear shoes, and maybe go to college?

Law’s not your thing? Fair enough. What about inventing Mr. Fusion so we have a clean, permanent source of energy to fuel the future, eliminating the pollution caused by your discarding your iPhone packaging in landfills.  But then, that would require study and hard effort, which would get in the way of your spending your time protesting against your schools’ investment in fossil fuels.

You can march around your library all night long, where the greatest risk to your well-being will be a papercut, and given the climate in academia, force mandatory classes in diversity and rid the campus of the blight of its history and tradition. Or, you can risk getting a headache by working hard, thinking, and applying your mad social justice skillz to make changes that actually affect real people.  And by “real people,” I mean the folks who aren’t enjoying the privilege of hiding in elite universities where their social justice feelings are fawned upon by academics who fear any utterance that doesn’t include an “X” where there used to be a vowel.

Protip: You will never get a jury to acquit a black defendant by crying about systemic racism and the legacy of slavery.

If you’re considering going to, or sending your beloved offspring  to, Stanford, you need to watch this first.

Ask yourself whether ridding society of this cartoon will have a greater impact than saving this life.


You think your feelings are hurt?


12 thoughts on “No Woody Wilson Way At Stanford

  1. Warrior Woman

    Ha, ha. Hey, ya gotta start somewhere. But really, remember what the Stanford hierarchy did when the students wanted to name their sports teams the Robber Barons after it was decided that Indians was not good in the 70’s? They didn’t go for the truth of the Stanford parent, but went for Cardinal. However, in honesty, the school is named for the Stanford son Leland Stanford Junior who died a teenager. And hey, if you want to do something with your robber baron money, what could be better than founding a great university that has amassed so much endowment that it charges no tuition if you get in and your parents make less than $125,000 a year? Hey, let’s lighten up and keep laughing. The discussion is lots better than TrumpTalk.

    1. SHG Post author

      But it would be wrong to take a free education born of such filthy lucre. And so they demand to pay for it. Oh wait.

  2. LTMG

    Let’s not forget our national flag. The red and white stripes are to remind us of that slave owner, George Washington, whose coat of arms bears red and white stripes.

  3. Stan

    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people, social justice warriors discuss feewings.

  4. Lucas Beauchamp

    Those Stanford students are in real trouble. Junipero Serra Boulevard cuts across the campus, and El Camino Real, the route the Franciscans established between missions, is its Eastern boundary and the main drag through Palo Alto. They can’t even leave campus without reminders of oppression. Staying on campus won’t help: buildings in Mission Revival style, inspired by Serra’s institutions, surround the main quad. What is someone with a conscience to do?

    1. Warrior Woman

      Learn from history! Use what is good and don’t repeat the bad. A lot of innovation has come from great universities. Hope we don’t kill that.

  5. Warrior Woman

    Don’t know why you think that is a non-sequitur to Lucas Beauchamp’s question. It is good that students learn that revered historical figures committed bad acts along with the good. So keep the good parts and don’t deny the bad acts. Part of the problem with the way history has been taught in this country is that it ignores the bad that has been done in our history. Manifest Destiny included pretty much trying to wipe out Native Americans and their culture. Guess what, Columbus was a pretty bad guy. I didn’t learn that in grade school or high school. Did you? We shouldn’t continue to glorify people who did bad things, even if their architecture is beautiful, or they were brave in some way. We need to face the negative history and not allow similar bad acts to happen again. And we should give credit to universities that are trying to face up to it, although it may sound petty to some. Hey, SHG, I got a great education, went to law school and I stand up and fight for criminal defendants every day, and have been considered a tough b**** more than once .

    1. SHG Post author

      It took me a while to figure out what you meant, which wasn’t clear from what you wrote. When I did, I deleted my non-seq comment, but you were apparently unaware when you replied to it. Here’s the thing: you now explain what you were trying to say. Unfortunately, it was hardly clear from your original comment. The problem wasn’t with what you meant, but that your comment was less clear to me than it was to you.

  6. Timothy Knox

    This reminds me of a quote by the late Terry Pratchett:

    “If you trust in yourself…and believe in your dreams…and follow your star…you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.” — Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

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