Stanford Minority Students' Group Rejects anti-Semitism Charge

Elite California university's Students of Color Coalition descrides as 'baseless' the accusation by Jewish candidate for student office that coalition put her on defensive over her religion.

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Stanford University, May 27, 2004.
Stanford University, May 27, 2004.Credit: Bloomberg

A coalition of Stanford University minority students has denied accusations by a Jewish candidate for student government that the group put her on the defensive about her Judaism during an interview, The New York Times reports.

Molly Horwitz, who is running for Stanford's student Senate, told a conservative campus newspaper that when she sought the endorsement of the Students of Color Coalition, the questions she was asked in an interview included, "Given your Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment?" Divestment refers to the movement by students to pressure administrators to withdraw their college's investments in companies that profit from Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

A Students of Color Coalition member who sat on the panel interviewing Horwitz said her allegation was "baseless," The Times reported on Monday.

“At no point was she asked whether her Jewish identity impacted her view on divestment,” said Tianay Pulphus, president of the Stanford chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “We ask all candidates how they would navigate issues that have come up in the previous year. We in no way singled out a candidate based on their ethnic or religious identity.”

The Students of Color Coalition includes blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Muslims. Horwitz, of South American origin, is a Hispanic Jew.

Follows similar case at UCLA

The controversy follows a very similar case two months ago at UCLA, but in that case an offending question to a Jewish candidate for student office was captured on film and recorded in the meeting's minutes. In the Stanford case, it's one student's word against that of others.

Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said the university is investigating the matter, and has found “conflicting accounts of what occurred.”

The dispute has played out in The Stanford Review, a conservative newspaper that has been critical of the Students of Color Coalition in the past. The Stanford Review also reported "multiple sources" accusing the coalition of requiring endorsees to agree not to associate with Jewish student groups, a charge the university is also investigating.

The Students of Color Coalition rejected this charge, too. “Allegations that any of our endorsees are precluded from affiliating with or receiving endorsements from other groups are unfounded,” it stated. “We reject the notion that religious or cultural identification might prevent someone from being an effective senator. Such a stance is in direct conflict with S.O.C.C. values.”

The Anti-Defamation League has accepted Horwitz's charge as fact, and complained to Stanford.

“Having aspersions cast on their ability to reflect the interest of the student body on the basis that they are Jewish is obviously very troubling to us," said Vlad Khaykin, associate director of the ADL's Central Pacific Region. "The university needs to make it clear to students and student groups that singling out identity and questioning on those kind of issues is discriminatory.”

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