- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2016

After the university hired a white man to fill the role, a group of Stanford University students is demanding the school’s next president be nonwhite and either transgender or female to make up for it.

A group called the Who’s Teaching Us Coalition said in a statement this week that administrative diversity is necessary in order to “break both the legacy of white leadership and cisgender male leadership” at the Palo Alto, California, campus.

University President John Hennessy, a white man who has presided over the elite educational establishment since 2000, announced last year that he would step down from his post this summer. The Stanford board of trustees in February appointed neuroscientist Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who is also a white man, to be the school’s next president.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, dismissed the notion that the university should hire administrators on the basis of characteristics irrelevant to the job.

“I would think any educationally and intellectually serious university would choose its next president on the basis of outstanding scholarship and ability to lead a very largely complex and prestigious university in our time,” Mr. Wood said. “The sorts of demands being put on the search for a candidate of a particular ethnicity, gender preference and sexual identity are manifestly silly and destructive.”

But Mr. Wood added that Stanford has “invited this by coddling students who make these sorts of claims.”

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“Instead of simply dismissing them out of hand, they’re invited to the discussion. They shouldn’t be,” he said. “The price of getting admission to the discussion is a certain degree of intellectual seriousness which is completely absent from this set of demands.”

The call for a “diverse” president was one of several charges issued by WTU, which argued the university “has failed to address issues of faculty/administrative diversity and curricular, extracurricular, and residential life equality.”

Other demands call for the university to hire “at least 10 tenure-track ethnic studies professors,” a requirement that all faculty go through “comprehensive identity and cultural humility training,” racial quotas in the undergraduate and graduate student bodies, and an expansion in the humanities major to “require double the current number of required classes on works by people of color.”

The students are also demanding a “dedicated, responsive platform for reporting and tracking microaggressions from faculty.”

“WE DEMAND the administration immediately accept the aforementioned demands and that a statement of acceptance, a timetable of implementation for each demand, and an administrative point person for each demand, be presented to WTU at 3 PM on Friday April 8th, in open forum at the Native American Cultural Center,” the requisition concludes.

Calls to the Stanford press office and other administrative departments inquiring whether the school will meet the deadline went unanswered.

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The demands were formally published after they were leaked by the Stanford Review, the school’s conservative newspaper.

In a mission statement affixed to the demands, WTU said it was founded after “Professor Stephen Hong Sohn, a queer Asian American scholar with a vital mentorship role in the community,” was denied tenure in the Stanford English Department.

The group claimed in the statement that “classrooms dominated by white professors and Western focused curricula reproduce the social conditions that globally oppress non-White/non-Western people” and said it is engaged in a struggle to “decolonize education in the 21st century.”

Mr. Wood said the group’s demands are both a power grab and an attempt to imitate protests at other campuses that have garnered praise in elite circles.

“The movement is partly reflective of the profound ignorance of the students about the nature of higher education and universities,” Mr. Wood said.

“To sort out people according to superficial characteristics such as race or sex or sexual preference or sexual identity or whatever these things amount to is a direct assault on the very foundations of what a university should be,” he added. “I would trust that the people responsible for Stanford, its board of trustees, its alumni, its faculty members, would have the good sense to brush aside this set of outrageous demands.”

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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