Peoples Platform

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Peoples Platform was a political party began at Stanford University in 1987 made up of the Black Student Union, the Asian-American Student Association, Stanford American Indian Organization and MEChA, and others, like Students United for a Democratic Education, Hillel, and the Gay and Lesbian Association at Stanford. Their demands resulted in that year's creation of the University Committee on Minority Issues.[1]

The group ran candidates in student elections, and was effectively a front for the League of Revolutionary Struggle on campus.

Origins of Peoples Platform

Letter to the Stanford Daily, Volume 189, Issue 39, 10 April 1986;

As members of the Third World/Progressive Alliance, we would like to protest the handling of this year's election by Jim McGrath, the elections hearing commissioner. We spent weeks developing the Peoples Platform, a document intended to build an atmosphere of respect for all peoples here at Stanford, in our community and throughout the world. Because we want the 1986-87 ASSU to be responsive to our needs, we have been especially careful not to disqualify the candidates for ASSU Senate who are running to uphold the principles of the Peoples Platform. Since the end of last quarter, we have continuously met with the members of the ASSU Elections Committee to stay within the bylaws of the elections handbook for our campaign to promote The Peoples Platform, and those candidates who have stated their support for the platform.
Jim McGrath has made it especially difficult for these candidates to campaign by overturning his publicity decisions after they accommodated them. McGrath has been making arbitrary interpretations of the bylaws specifically against these candidates. McGrath has treated the candidates who endorse our platform as a slate regardless of the fact that they have constantly insisted that they are running as individuals. For example, he has forced these candidates to check that none of their fliers "appear" (to him) similar in design. He has also ridiculously stated that the candidates cannot share certain words (which he has defined as "buzz" words), phrases, logos or even the same color flier, despite the fact that they all do agree with principles of the platform. Would McGrath ask that congressional candidates not run under the principles of the U.S. Constitution? We do feel that the just bylaws to any election are necessary and ensure a fair campaign. However, we do object to the fact that McGrath is forcing the candidates to waste time emphasizing differences rather than allowing them to express their own chosen principles for their own campaigns.

Lisa Neeley - Stanford American Indian Organization, Ed Gilliland - Stanford Central American Action Network, Jinny Shinsato - Asian American Student Association, Michael J. Schmitz- Stanford Out of South Africa, Derek Miyahara - Asian American Student Association, Amanda Kemp - Black Student Union, Gina Hernandez - MEChA, Elsa Tsutaoka- Third World Women's Caucus.

Public rally

Chanting a poem by Mirrielees Resident Fellow Keith Archuleta, students involved in the Peoples Platform spread their message to other Stanford students during a rally in White Plaza April 8 1986. The platform outlines a series of issues that members of progressive and I hird World student groups feel should be the pivotal ones for the upcoming ASSU elections. Yesterday's noon rally "was designed to make students aware of the Peoples Platform existence and the things we stand for," said Lisa Neeley, one of the platform's organizers and a member of the Stanford American Indian Organization. The rally drew a small but supportive crowd of about 60.

The Peoples Platform was formulated by a coalition of "progressive and Third World" students early last March. Issues that the platform supports include University divestment from companies doing business in South Africa, the sanctuary movement and expansion of the Western Culture program to a World Culture program. The platform says the current Western Culture program is "severely deficient and must be fundamentally restructured to include the vital contributions of women, blacks. Latinos, Asians and Native Americans."

The platform also encourages increased relations with and commitment to the East Palo Alto community, especially in the area of education, and increased responsibility for ethnic theme houses. Bill King, a sophomore majoring in biology and an ASSU Senate candidate, said, "The Peoples Platform is just an agenda we want the ASSU to address. In the past, elections have been based on personalities and individuals. We want this one to address issues." Neely said, "The original purpose of our getting together (platform organizers) was to have a frank discussion about what we felt the just and democratic role this University should follow. We were acting in response to what we felt was a general disrespect for our interests." However, Neeley denied that the platform was trying to force all candidates to take stands on the issues that the platform raises. "People on the committees involved in forming the platform decided to run because they care about the issues, but we are not trying to force those who don't want to take a position."[2]

People's Platform endorsement of The Plan

April 7 1987, the Peoples Platform last night formally endorsed "The Plan" slate for Council of Presidents in next week's ASSU spring election. The platform, a coalition of students who support a political agenda promoting the rights and interests of minorities and other progressive issues, also made endorsements for Senior Class Presidents and candidates for ASSU Senate. If the slates and candidates accept the endorsements, each of them will be expected to uphold the tenets of the People's Platform, which include increases in funding for ethnic studies and community centers as well as support for more general Issues such as total divestment from South Africa.

For undergraduate senate, the Peoples Platform voted to endorse juniors Stacey Leyton and Brett Mahoney, sophomores Lillian Hirales, Jon Inda, Miguel Marquez and Jeff Marshall and freshmen Jason Dominguez, Gina Harrison, Derrick Lin and Daniel Luna. In the graduate race for the senate, the platform endorsed Richard Vaughan and Don Gagliardi. For the first time, slates in the Senior Class Presidents race approached the Peoples Platform for endorsement. The platform voted to endorse the "Slate of '88" made up of Maria Meier, Eric Prosnitz, Paige Mazzoni and Stuart Levy. "We were concerned (about whether we'd get the endorsement), but we really felt that we were the most qualified," said sophomore Julie Martinez, one of four members of The Plan COP slate. "I think that the support of the Peoples Platform will be helpful," added Martinez, who is joined on The Plan slate by juniors Lori Abert and Eric Allen and sophomore Ira "Tripp" Williams.

The different minority and progressive groups that make up the People's Platform have come together in the past and have achieved much through their unity, Martinez said. "The People's Platform is really growing in political power," said Felix Cuevas, a Peoples Platform campaign coordinator. "A lot more people sought endorsement this year than last year."

Different minority communities are very supportive of the People's Platform, because they know that it represents a diverse populace and that its candidates are more responsible to the students. Cuevas said. More minorities and progressive whites are running this year because the People's Platform has given them more of a sense of having potential for change, according to Cuevas. "[A Peoples Platform endorsement] makes a big difference," Cuevas said. "Out of nine people that we endorsed last year (when the group was started), seven of them were elected and five were elected to voting positions." "It's an interesting concept." graduate senator Steve Hellman, who is not a member, said of the People's Platform.[3]

Ethnic studies

In October 1986 ASSU representatives of the Peoples Platform, a coalition of minority and progressive student organizations at Stanford, launched a campaign to expand undergraduate ethnic studies and to establish a community service board within the ASSU. According to ASSU senator Ben Garcia, who is setting up a task force on ethnic studies, the University is offering only two courses on Chicano studies this quarter and nothing in Asian American and Native American studies. Stanford claims to educate its students for their future roles of leadership, Garcia said. However, the University's method of education is "antithetical to its ideals— It does not teach people how to be leaders in our diverse, multicultural society." A Chicano studies department, for example, could offer courses analyzing the labor struggles of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers union, Garcia said.

Carolyn Lougee, dean of Undergraduate Studies, agrees that the programs in ethnic studies need to expand. "I don't think we do nearly as good a job as we can in multi-cultural education. That is what the Western Culture issue is about," she said. Lougee urged, however, that critics of Stanford's course offerings not overlook the current accomplishments of the ethnic studies program. While Stanford may not have many courses in ethnic studies, the classes it does offer are of high quality, Lougee said.

Currently, it would also be hard for the University to establish an Native American studies program since it does not have any professors in the field on its faculty. "We really feel the need for an ethnic studies program," said Debbie Phillips, former council co-chair of the Stanford American Indian Organization. American Indians study in an educational system that essentially ignores their historical contributions, and a program focussing on minorities would bring attention to these cultures, she said.

Another project, a community service board, is essential to the minority community and to other service organizations, according to ASSU senator Felix Cuevas. The constitution of the Peoples Platform states that community service "is particularly important for students who come from ethnic backgrounds, for these disadvantaged communities are not-so-far removed from our reality." Rudy Fuentes, a member of the ASSU Council of Presidents, said the Program Board does not satisfy the funding needs of the University's extracurricular programs. While the Program Board funds the cultural, social and political programs that benefit the Stanford community, it does not cover the full financial demands of community service organizations, he said.

The community service board, however, would focus solely upon community service-oriented projects in which the people directly benefitting from the programs are not necessarily Stanford students, Fuentes added. According to Megan Sweezey, staff coordinator for the Stanford Volunteer Network (SVN), there has been in the past a myth circulating through the ASSU that student groups located in Owen House get funding from the President's Office.[4]

Recall!

The results are in, and "Four Our Future" C.O.P. has been recalled from office by a student vote of 1012 to 532. A new election will be held next fall to determine the 1990-91 ASSU Council of Presents. Elections Commissioner Steve Krauss was pleased with the voter turnout, but was disappointed that new elections will have to be run, at a cost to the Association of over $8,000.

"It's an outrage!" charged Vince Ricci, former Peoples Platform senator. "I can't believe the students went and did this. The question on the ballot must have been misleading." Louis Jackson, another former Peoples Platform senator, agreed. "There's no way the Senate will certify the results".

Members ofthe "Four Our Future" slate are understandably dismayed. "This just isn't fair," says Jay Tucker, one of the removed C.O.P. "Now I have got go and change my resume." Perhaps the most outspoken about the results was Ingrid Nava, former and ex-current C.O.P. member. "This is completely unfair -- we didn't even get a chance to serve. You would think I was caught embezzling funds or something." When asked if her alleged membership in the secret Marxist-Leninist League of Revolutionary Struggle may have contributed to tne C.O.P.'s defeat, Nava stated emphatically, "Absolutely not! Everyone knows the League is no big secret. Why should it be? Besides, I never even heard of it." Stacey Leyton, a former Peoples Platform C.O.P. member, senator, and Dean's Service Award recipient, was equally furious. "This is all the doing of that conservitive with a mohawk, Perry Friedman. I hope he's happy.'[5]

Big gains

The Peoples Platform, a political coalition of student ethnic and progressive groups, scored considerable gains in 1991's ASSU election by placing nine of 10 Platform candidates in the ASSU Senate and by filling the office of Council of Presidents with its own slate, A New Slate of Mind.

Junior Miguel Marquez, member of A New Slate of Mind, said he was satisfied with the success of the Platform. Marquez said the existence of an organized party made the campaign and elections more "issue-oriented" than in past years when he said "name recognition" played the major factor. Marquez said the party "puts out a real platform" that improves the election so "people know what they're voting for." Although Marquez acknowledged that the Platform has received criticism because of its progressive agenda, he said he hopes such "petty politics" do not interfere with ASSU projects in the future. "If you have that polarization, the ASSU gets nothing done," he said.

For the second year in a row, the top vote-getter for undergraduate senator was a Platform candidate. Junior Julie Martinez garnered 799 votes, 30 more than her closest competitor, Amol Doshi.

Marquez said the explanation for his slate's victory was simple. "People are looking for a change," he explained. "Both slates were capable of running the COP — we just offered a different approach," he said. The new COP members are sophomore David Brown, sophomore Canetta Ivy, senior Stacey Leyton and Marquez. Although voters approved most of the student group fee requestson the ballot, five groups were denied funding this year. In an unprecedented fee request vote, the BSU lost its request for $24,419.[6]

Peoples Platform works "to increase its student support"

In 1991 the Peoples Platform will work to increase its student support during the upcoming ASSU spring elections while continuing to emphasize multiculturalism, party members said at an information February 28 1991.

Speaking to about 30 prospective candidates, Jenn Pearson, a junior, said, "The Peoples Platform is broadening out this year . . . but we also want to bring in other groups that are underrepresented on campus while maintaining the ideals established by the four [student of color organizations] who founded the party." The party is interviewing potential candidates this afternoon in the Tresidder Lounge, and candidates must submit application forms by Monday Next week, the Peoples Platform will hold a slating primary in which party members will vote to select Council of Presidents and Senate candidates. After outlining the history of the ASSU and the Peoples Platform, party members discussed issues they plan to emphasize during the election debates next month. Among the ideas they will propose include an expansion of multiculturalism, trying to influence the federal re-evaluation of universities' financial aid and a change of location and focus for the Women's Center.

The Peoples Platform plans to create a coalition involving various student groups, faculty, administrators, parents and alumni to "take an active stand" against President Bush's proposed revision of the 1965 Higher Education Act, said ASSU senator Naomi Onaga, a senior. The party will also support the proposed move of the Women's Center from its current location next to the Toyon eating clubs to the first floor of the Fire Truck House, beneath the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community Center, to "brinr it to the center of campus," Pearson said. Pearson added that she hopes the move will change the current attitude among some people that the center is a "quasi-upper-class, white, feminist group" and help them understand that it is an organization that brings together all women on campus.

Party officials said the People's Platform will work to make the concept of multiculturalism a more significant issue in this year's election than in those of past years. Last year, both parties claimed to support multiculturalism, and it was "hard to use multiculturalism as a distinguishing point," said senior Goodwin Liu, a Council of Presidents member. "This year it is important not just to support multiculturalism but to define how to make it work," Liu added. "We need to make multiculturalism accessible to everyone but not water it down." Party members also used the meeting to defend the People's Platform against various charges from other parties. In response to a question about political correctness, sophomore

Nicole Johnson said, "Being politically correct means saying the right thing but not knowing why. Members of the People's Platform understand the philosophies, goals and visions of the party, have a place in it and do it — not because they think that it is right but because they know it is right." Members also defended the party's support of continuing ASSU Senate debate on national issues. "It is really important to look beyond the Farm and make the connection between students ai?d national issues, such as the draft counseling that occurred during the war," Pearson said.[7]

1994 ticket

In 1994 "Students' Voice," was sponsored by the Peoples Platform. "Students' Voice" includes juniors Mork Murdock, Lisa Lee and Anietie Ekanem and sophomore Vanessa Alvarado. [8]

Peoples Platform, which was founded in 1986 to promote the interests of students of color, will endorse a COP slate for the first time since 1991. "Students' Voice," includes juniors Mork Murdock, Anietie Ekanem and Lisa Lee and sophomore Vanessa Alvarado. Murdock is currently an undergraduate senator, Ekanem is a senator and chair of the Black Student Union, Lee cochairs the Asian American Students Association and Alvarado is a senator involved in MEChA, a Chicano/Latino student group. [9]

1995 ticket

The Peoples Platform party endorsed a Council of Presidents slate and 15 senate candidates March 6, 1995, at a meeting which focused primarily on ethnic issues despite the party's new mission statement to expand its focus. Out of 16 undergraduates who applied for recommendation — 10 of them freshmen — 14 received endorsement. One graduate senator, senior Alane Murdock, sought and received the endorsement. "That's the way it usually is," said current COP member Vanessa Alvarado. "It's a good idea to have a lot of freshmen, because it's good consistency." Freshmen Christy Ramon, Thomas Leung, Armen Panossian, Wade Pyun, Bill Shell, Brie Franco, Angela Parker, Lamar Baker and Jonathan Bobb; sophomore Kimberly Bayer; and juniors Esther Chun, Duane Beasley and twin brothers Joaquin Castro and Julian Castro all received endorsement.

The slate "We Deserve Better," composed ofjuniors Michael Choo, Jon Oram, Nicole Vazquez and Rich Stolz, received recommendation for COP. [10]

Peoples Platform graduate senators

In 1991 Diane Nelson, David Bradfute, David Schmid and Elena Duarte were Peoples Platform graduate senators.[11]

1995 results

In 1995 Chanting "Platform, Platform, Platform," People'\s Platform party candidates captured the Council of Presidents and won a majority of undergraduate senate seats in the ASSU Spring General Election. Seven of next year's 10 voting undergraduate senators are affiliated with the Platform, as well as five of the 10 non-voting senators. Two voting and two non-voting undergraduate senators were endorsed by the Students' Alliance party. One Platform senator, two Alliance senators and five independent senators were elected to the graduate senate, along with one senator representing the Stanford Chinese Culture Association. COP member-elect Nicole Vazquez, a junior, said that her victory signaled students are concerned about campus issues.

"We ran on the issues. Students want to have things get done," Vazquez said. "Students deserve more than course guides and graduate student handbooks. They care about visionary leaders and a student voice in University decision-mak-ing," she said. Along with Vazquez, the other members of the winning COP slate "We Deserve Better" are juniors Jon Oram, Michael Choo and Rich Stolz. Choo said the slate will work hard for students next year. "Peoples Platform made promises and we will keep our promises," he said. The Platform slate defeated the Students' Alliance slate, "Let's be Candid" by a final vote count of 1,974 to 1,643.

Alliance senator-elect Stephen Russell said the Alliance will continue to try to enact its agenda in the senate next year. "We'll do what we've always done," Russell said. "We'll define the issues, generate debate and make sure the ASSU sticks to its mission."

In the undergraduate senate race, twin brothers Joaquin Castro and Julian Castro tied for first place, each receiving 811 votes. "We're very excited that students supported our ideas on pushing T.A. training, recommendation hours with professors and changing the advising system," Joaquin Castro said. Along with the Castro brothers, the other voting undergraduate senators were Shen, Andre Vanier, Oliver Miao, Angela Parker, Christy Ramon, Howard Loo, Wade Pyun and Jonathan Bobb. Chosen as non-voting senators were Armen Panossian, Lamar Baker, Russell, Duane Beasley, Brian Lee, Kimberly Bayer, Esther Chun, Alex Breen, Gil Serrano and Ryo Shohara. In the race for graduate senate, Sandeep Singhal, Don Aingworth, Ze-Kai Hsiau and Walton Williamson were elected to voting positions from the Schools of Engineering and Earth Sciences. Juan Taboas, Sergey Brin, Raymond Shu and Sudarshan Chawathe received non-voting seats.

Alane Murdock, Jessica Koran and Richard Barnett were chosen as voting senators from the Schools of Humanities and Sciences and Education. Matt Kelso, along with two other write-in candidates not yet announced, received non-voting seats. John Crandon and Scott Kupor were elected to voting positions from the Law, Business and Medicine Schools. All nonvoting positions will be filled by write-in candidates. In the class president elections, "Welcome to Paradise" won for Senior Class Presidents. The slate consists of Angela Booker, Sarah Cranston, Andre Javier and Aaron Lehman. "The Groove" — consisting of Brad Davies, Tarina Kang, Meghvi Maheta and Cabral Bonner — was elected as the Junior Class Presidents slate. "SPAM" — consisting of Andrew Blackburn, Rebecca Dodds, Ramesh Srinivasan and Andrew Howard — was chosen as the Sophomore Class Presidents slate. A combined 37.4 percent of students voted in this week's election. Fifty-four percent of undergraduates voted and nearly 20 percent of graduate students voted.[12]

1996 endorsements

At a meeting February 26 1996, the Peoples Platform did not name a Council of Presidents slate for the upcoming spring election, as had been expected. The party, however, did vote to endorse 10 undergraduate candidates for ASSU Senate. "After meeting this afternoon, we decided that we were not ready to present an agenda with a specific set of issues to the Platform at [last night's] slating meeting," said ASSU deputy senate chair Bill Shen, one of the organizers of the party's slate. "Names and faces are great, but a team needs a clear message, and we felt that we weren't ready with those specifics yet." Shen added that he is confident he and his running mate Angela Parker, a junior who is an ASSU senator, will have a slate ready by tomorrow, when they will meet with the ASSU Elections Commission to declare their candidacy.

Late last week, one of the potential COP candidates, junior Lindy Eichenbaum, decided not to run, causing Shen and Parker to extend their search for the two remaining running mates. When asked if he would form an independent COP slate in the event that the Peoples Platform does not offer his slate an endorsement, Shen said, "I'm not ruling anything out." Although the COP is still an open-ended question, 10 undergraduates received the party's endorsement to run in spring general elections. After 20 students presented themselves to the party and fielded questions about their viewpoints and political goals, party members voted to endorse juniors Evonne Greenidge and Gilbert Serrano; sophomores Thomas Leung and Lisa Rubin; and freshmen Edelina Burciaga, Phillip Cooper, Joe Freund, Celia Garcia, Sonia Gonzalez and Laudan Nabizadeh. They encouraged the remaining students to run as Peoples Platform affiliates. Affiliates will have the party's support throughout the race, but the party's endorsement will not appear on the ballot, Shen said.

Reminding the audience of approximately 100 in Tresidder's Oak West Lounge of the party's history, current COP member Mike Choo said the party should continue its tradition of advocating student-group funding and speaking for students and organizations whose voices are traditionally unheard.[13]

References

  1. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 194, Issue 20, 21 October 1988]
  2. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 189, Issue 38, 9 April 1986]
  3. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 191, Issue 33, 8 April 1987]
  4. [ The Stanford Daily, Volume 190, Issue 19, 23 October 1986 ]
  5. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 71, 6 June 1990]
  6. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 193, Issue 41, 19 April 1988 ]
  7. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 199, Issue 19, 1 March 1991]
  8. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 205, Issue 25, 9 March 1994]
  9. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 205, Issue 23, 3 March 1994]
  10. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 207, Issue 21, 7 March 1995]
  11. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 199, Issue 39, 18 April 1991]
  12. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 207, Issue 40, 21 April 1995]
  13. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 209, Issue 16, 27 February 1996 ]