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[liberationtech] Fwd: Moving Forward After Your Exchange With Native Alum (was "SAIO and Native Law Students' Response to Provost Etchemendy")

Leslie Wu lwu135 at
Wed Mar 11 11:28:31 PDT 2009

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Leslie Wu <lwu2 at>
Date: Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 11:26 AM
To: activists at
Cc: qnet at, etch at, hennessy at

Dear Provost John Etchemendy, President John Hennessy, and fellow student

As a graduate student of color, I wanted to echo Jacqueline's concerns and
perspective, noting that I have has benefited greatly from the continued
support of centers on campus such as the A3C, the NACC, and the LGBT-CRC.

As an activist academic-in-training, I also wanted to posit that, despite
the controversy so far, I hope that this exchange can serve as an
opportunity to start engaging the Stanford community in a safe and
open wayas we "band
together and confront the financial crisis that is changing the face of our
schools, our neighborhoods, and our nation".

To be more specific, I would like to propose that we work together to increase
financial/funding transparency, by (safely/securely) opening up Stanford's
finance/funding data sets for the larger Stanford community to see &
analyze, hypothesize & discuss, and finally to make decisions and take
action on.

Before coming to Stanford, I worked at as a software engineer in
one of the largest data warehouses in the world, providing visual analytic
tools for merchants. Here at Stanford, my academic research focuses on
Web-based information visualization and data integration, and I have modest
hopes that the new Obama administration will usher in an improved age of
open financial/geospatial data on the national/governmental scale.

(Other organizational examples of openness include the non-profit Sunlight
Foundation <>, which demands
accountability and transparency in government, IBM
technology to support collaborative and open visual analytics, and the new US
CIO Vivek Kunda's <> prior work on
opening up the DC's data for the world to see, mash, and use.)

What I would ask our Provost and our President is, will Stanford lead or
follow when it comes to infrastructure, systems, and entrepreneurial ideas
for "safe and open data @ Stanford"? Or will we instead take a step back, do
nothing, and trade transparency and compassion for secrecy and fear?

Calls to Action:

Provost Etchemendy, President Hennessy, if you would like to meet personally
with student leaders interested in dialogue re: the exchange with the native
alum or volunteers interested in helping to lead us forward with the respect
to "safe and open (financial) data", I and others would clearly be

Student leaders/activists/entrepreneurs, if you also care about helping to
promote financial/funding transparency at Stanford, let's talk. Drop me a

Thank you for your time, and here's to some imagined future, healed and

~Leslie Wu

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> To: apileaders at
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> To: the_diaspora at
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Jacqueline de Armas <jdearmas at>
> Date: Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 9:46 PM
> Subject: [nastudents2007] Moving Forward After Your Exchange With Native
> Alum
> To: etch at
> Cc: fgn132 at, hennessy at,
> nastudents2007 at, jdorsey at, nativelaw <
> nativelaw at>
> Dear Provost Etchemendy,
> In times of trouble, one would hope that the Stanford community would find
> a way to band together and confront the financial crisis that is changing
> the face of our schools, our neighborhoods, and our nation. We can see the
> administration is now forced to make decisions that will impact the lives of
> your colleagues and friends, your students and the quality of our university
> overall. There is no one who envies your position and, we are sure, that our
> student community deeply appreciates the thorough and relentless effort you
> are expending on our behalf.
> A few weeks ago the Stanford community became aware of proposed budget cuts
> affecting community centers on campus. The response in support of the Native
> American Cultural Center (NACC), opposing the budget cuts was massive and,
> most likely, overwhelming to the administration. This Center is a second
> home to many of our Native students and provides the extended family direly
> necessary for their transition into Stanford. Moreover, the Center is a
> treasured symbol of success that few universities have had in establishing a
> thriving Native community within the academy. Nationally, only 36% of Native
> American students graduate within 6 years of enrollment in post-secondary
> education from top tier schools.  Prior to the inception of the Center,
> Stanford's retention rates mirrored national rates.  Now, Native American
> students graduate on par with the rest of Stanford's student body. The
> passionate response to proposed cuts should be cherished as a marker of
> great achievement.
> We understand that the reaction of our community may have been taxing on
> our administration and that financial challenges are causing a strain felt
> by everyone in our country. But we are saddened by your response to one
> young community member’s dissenting voice that has now found its way to
> campus student lists. We feel compelled to respond.  In establishing the
> NACC Stanford clearly conveyed an effort to inspire a sense of pride in our
> Native community and all communities of color at our university. Part of
> this pride derives from a new found voice to express dissent and challenge
> the status quo. When those challenges are met with the condescending tones
> of “you are wrong.  I know that you believe that you, and only you, ‘know
> what it takes to keep students at Stanford,’ . . . but you are wrong,” it
> attempts to squelch the voice and passion of Stanford’s alum for their alma
> mater. You go on to say, "I have a request.  Print a copy of your message
> and put it in a safe place.  In twenty years, take it out and read it.  You
> will know then why I asked you to do that." This does nothing to further
> productive dialogue. Stanford positions young students of color to present
> their perspectives, even in situations that feel hostile, and to use the
> power of logic and persuasion to alter their worlds. This young woman of
> color may have expressed dissent, but, once again, this dissent should be
> cherished as a great marker of achievement.
> For these reasons, we were shocked that the administration would issue a
> response that uses shame to silence reason. Such a response undermines
> efforts to empower our students to confront perceived injustice with the
> strength of their minds and convictions. In these difficult times, we need
> our administration to continue to lead our university in the same mission
> that has guided us before this crisis began, namely the education and
> empowerment of our student body. We know this is a challenging request, but
> this is a mission we cannot sacrifice.
> We hope instead that our administration, which is already doing so much,
> can muster the strength to correct this disservice and lead our university
> out of this crisis without hostility; to use this time of crisis as the
> opportunity it could be, rather than a time to divide or, at worst, to
> reverse course.
> Sincerely,
> Erika Chase, Samantha Azure, Wayva Waterman
> SAIO (Stanford American Indian Organization)
> Maggie McKinley, Jacqueline de Armas, Keith Anderson
> NALSA (Native American Law Student Association)
> at
> _______________________________________________
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> --
> C. Lilian Thaoxaochay
> Anthropology, Class of 2010
> Stanford University
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