We, the leadership of the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC), write to you with regards to recent allegations of antisemitism in our election endorsement process. These allegations are false. The claims made by Molly Horwitz regarding her SOCC interview are baseless and refuted by the documentation and testimony of the nine other students present at her interview, who represent the leadership of the Black, Asian, Muslim, Native and Latino communities on campus. Ms. Horwitz has falsely alleged that her Jewish heritage played a role in her not receiving a SOCC endorsement, a notion which, if true, would fundamentally violate SOCC’s values of diversity and cultural celebration.
In the interest of transparency, we have voluntarily provided notes taken during Molly Horwitz's interview to Associate Dean and Director of Student Activities and Leadership, Nanci Howe, and Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Sally Dickson, who are charged with overseeing student activities and issues of diversity on campus. We are not disclosing the notes publicly to respect the privacy of Ms. Horwitz and the other candidates who interviewed for SOCC endorsement and in order to not tamper with elections. Maintaining the confidentiality of the interview notes diminishes our ability to defend ourselves publicly against false accusations; however, we believe this is the most ethical choice. We support whatever decision the administration makes regarding whether or not to publicly disclose the notes.
SOCC, like several groups on campus, annually endorses election candidates. Any candidate may apply for an endorsement. We base our endorsements on the following criteria: (1) knowledge of senate functions, (2) nuanced understanding of campus issues currently impacting the communities that make up our coalition, and (3) a commitment to advocating on behalf of our communities. During our endorsement process, we offered an oral interview to all 31 applicants.
Molly Horwitz did not receive a SOCC endorsement due to her lack of knowledge about the role of the ASSU Senate and lack of familiarity with SOCC communities. In particular, when asked to name the six organizations comprising SOCC, Ms. Horwitz was unable to correctly identify a single group. Her lack of familiarity with our organizations, from whom she sought endorsement, demonstrated a failure on her part to conduct basic research about who we are. Furthermore, when asked what Senate Committee she envisioned herself being a part of, Ms. Horwitz replied, the “Mental Health” Committee -- a committee that does not exist. It was these responses that led SOCC not to endorse her candidacy.
In contrast, Ms. Horwitz provided well-thought out responses to questions about divestment. We asked 26 of the 31 candidates interviewed, including Ms. Horwitz, a standardized question regarding the Senate’s handling of divestment and sometimes follow-up questions. Other candidates were asked about other major campus issues like sexual assault or mental health resources at Stanford. The question served as a means for us to assess the candidates’ ability to evaluate a problem and design an action plan to resolve it. The question was not a litmus test for candidate views on divestment; indeed, SOCC endorsed candidates who did not sign the divestment petition.
We first asked her to comment on how she felt the Senate handled divestment this year. She responded that she found the revote emotionally taxing on all communities, including groups both in favor of and against divestment. She expressed concern about senators who had changed their votes, because: “as a senator, you are representing organizations that are endorsing you.” This statement prompted a follow-up question, which asked her to elaborate on how a Senator should navigate a situation involving two endorsing bodies espousing contradicting political perspectives. She reiterated the importance of transparency and indicated that abstaining would be a good way to balance both positions. She also expressed that there were ways to address the Israel-Palestine conflict other than divestment.
In her answers to these questions, Ms. Horwitz articulated a thoughtful decision-making process, underscored the importance of considering the views of different communities and highlighted the value of transparency, all of which reflected positively on her. Had Ms. Horwitz demonstrated basic knowledge about the communities from which she sought endorsement and a concrete plan for advocacy within the Senate, SOCC would have gladly offered her an endorsement.
Ms. Horwitz, like many other applicants, did discuss her identity and involvement with different communities on campus during her interview. She, in fact, emphasized that her Latina and Jewish identity are important parts of who she is. It is a false allegation, though, that the interviewer suggested Ms. Horwitz must have a specific position on divestment because of her Jewish identity. No interviewer, as she claims, asked: “Given your strong Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment?”
Additionally, the accusation that we asked endorsees to sign a contract prohibiting them from affiliating with Jewish or Israeli groups is categorically false. Shortly after hearing this rumor, we published the contract we ask endorsees to sign, and it makes clear that we do not prohibit affiliations with any community. In fact, two SOCC-endorsed candidates were also endorsed by the Jewish Students Association.
As a coalition devoted to fostering campus-wide diversity and identifying Acts of Intolerance on campus, we condemn all instances of anti-Semitism. We are disappointed that irresponsible journalists have perpetuated unsubstantiated allegations of such a serious nature, prior to the investigation of their merits. The Stanford Review has a long history of launching false smear campaigns against SOCC and its coalition members in advance of elections in order to influence voting on their Special Fees requests. The allegations published so widely in the press are based on the word of one person, and they contradict the accounts of nine people who served on the SOCC endorsement committee, representing six major student groups on campus. More time, research and diligence should have been invested by reporting journalists to determining whether the claim had merit -- it does not -- and to ensuring that SOCC was fully provided the opportunity to rebut the false charge.
Students of Color Coalition
*4/18/2015: This statement has been updated to reflect accurate allegations made against SOCC.