Students and alumni presented “25 Years: Honoring Student Activism and the Legacy of the 1989 Takeover” October 14, an event to commemorate the student activism that led to the promotion of multicultural integration on campus.
This event celebrated the 1989 takeover, in which 55 students from ethnic groups around campus were arrested after confronting the University’s failure to address racial injustices by storming former Stanford president Donald Kennedy’s office.
“The main purpose of the takeover,” said Jessica Reed ’16, Black Student Union co-president and student performer, “was really trying to create institutional change to go along with the change that was occurring demographically in terms of the students on campus.”
Among other requests, student groups from the Asian American Community Center, Native American Cultural Center and other organizations, demanded that the University expand on current ethnic studies classes, add new ethnic studies programs, increase funding for cultural centers and hire more faculty of color.
The 25th-anniversary commemoration began with a welcome from Jan Barker Alexander, associate dean of student affairs, who addressed how the past can fuel the present.
Following her speech was the student production “Takeover ’89,” directed, written and produced by Ken Savage ’14. The play depicted the motivations behind the takeover, the timeline of events on May 19, 1989, and how current students can respond to these past events. The event followed with a historic perspective presented by Clayborne Carson, a history professor during the time of the takeover. Carson reflected on his thoughts towards the legacy of the takeover, in which he stated that “the [takeover] was one of the proudest moments of my life…we were inspired by the students.”
Lastly, students had a chance to interact with alumni who had participated in the ’89 takeover during the panel discussion titled “Panel: Alumni Reflections.” Alumni Richard Suh ’90, Cheryl Taylor ’90, Gina Hernandez-Clarke ’89 and William McCabe ’89 answered questions regarding their reflections on the takeover and advice for current students.
“We would have no way of anticipating that our actions 25 years ago would have any impact on students today,” Suh said. “It feels really fulfilling; you certainly feel a sense of satisfaction that what you did at one point in time made a big difference.”
“I can’t separate my personal tie to the takeover,” said Hye Jeong Yoon ’14, a student performer in “Take Over ’89.” “All Stanford students benefited, but being a CSRE [Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity] major, I know that I for one would not be the same person if I didn’t make relationships with professors who were hired directly because of this takeover. I am the direct beneficiary of this takeover.”
Among the alumni who attended was Louis Jackson ’91, who was singled out for more serious charges than other students for his actions.
“It’s the past reconnecting with the present. We notice that, yeah, stuff has changed, but there’s also so much more,” Priscilla Agbeo ’18 said.
In the panel discussion with alumni, moderator Alma Medina ’92 stated, “I was enough, I was enough to make a difference — and other people were also enough, so when you put that together, you can really make a difference.”
“This phrase really meant being critical of what you’re being taught and taking control of what you’re being taught and having a say of what you’re being taught,” said Suh.
“To me, self determination for our education means taking ownership of your history. We should be able to learn about it from our lens, not a westernized lens. There’s often a lot of miseducation because it’s in a westernized lens if it’s not in the perspectives that we necessarily would stand for,” Jade Verdeflor ’17 said.
This event was a joint venture between the various culture groups around campus. The participating groups were the Asian American Activities Center, El Centro Chicano y Latino, Black Community Services Center and the Native American Culture Center. This collaboration of cultural groups mirrors the spirit of unity that incited the takeover, in which many student groups came together to create one force.
Agenda for Action
Following an emotional meeting with University President Donald Kennedy June 1 1989, Agenda for Action coalition members called the campus disruption charges issued against them a tactic to prevent the development of multicultural education at Stanford. Emerging from Kennedy's office in tears, coalition member Julie Martinez said the University's commitment to ethnic diversity was "nothing but a big lie." By relentlessly pursuing the disruption charges against students who participated in the May 15 takeover of Kennedy's office, the administration is condemning more than the students' actions, said Stacey Leyton, a member of the coalition and the outgoing Council of Presidents. "We feel like they're going after us," she said. "[They are going] after what we represent, which is the movement to make this a more multicultural institution. That's what we feel like is being threatened by these charges." Kennedy told The Daily yesterday that the judicial charges had been issued against those who occupied his office as a matter of University policy. "We're fully committed to multicultural education," he said. Formal charges of violating the University's Policy on Campus Disruption were issued Wednesday to 53 students involved in the takeover of Kennedy's office, which was organized by the Agenda for Action coalition. "(Since) the day after the takeover, we've been told by different administrators that we're guilty, that they're going to take us to the wall," said Judy Wu, a coalition member. "They don't have a fair process set up for us.
Martinez, a senior, expressed deep concern after the meeting with Kennedy that graduating seniors will not receive their diplomas until after the judicial process has been completed. "My mother and father take extra jobs so they can get money to come here [from San Antonio] and see me graduate, and they don't even know if I'm going to be able to or if I will get my diploma because this school can't decide whether me standing up for more Chicano faculty . . . was right or wrong," she said. Junior Cheryl Taylor, a coaliton member, said she had been misled by false promises of multiculturalism when she decided to attend Stanford three years ago. "I can't believe (the administration) has the gall to parade around the country with those badges of multiculturalism," she said.
Gina Hernandez, the former cochair of MEChA, a Chicano/ Latino student group, said students of color were being denied the opportunity to contribute to building a multicultural university. According to Judicial Affairs Officer Sally Cole, as of yesterday, 53 students had been charged with violating the University's policy on campus disruptions. Of these, 50 were among the 56 arrested on misdemeanor charges in the takeover of Kennedy's office. According to Cole, it is "probable" that more students will be charged within the next few days.
Jay Jay Kuo, a coalition member who did not participate in yes-terday's meeting with Kennedy, said the differentiated charges forced him to question the administration's commitment to creating a multicultural university. "How can (the administration) be for our cause when they plan to remove from the cause its strongest supporters?
"Justice and Hope"
- Writing Justice and Hope has been a humbling and daunting exercise. Many, many people helped, and this is indeed a collective work. I am grateful to the many Black faculty and staff members who provided valuable advice, support and direction: James L. Gibbs, St. Clair Drake, Kennell Jackson, Clayborne Carson, Keith Archuleta, Michael Jackson, Michael Britt, Dandre Desandies, Hank Organ, and Rachel Bagby.
- I also made extensive use of the Stanford Libraries. At the various stages of production, a whole host of peeple contributed. I hope I don't leave anybody out, but here goes. My thanks go out to the following people: Lisa Fitts, Audrey Jawando, Bacardi Jackson, and Drew Dixon helped give shape to Justice and Hope when it was still a vague and unformed idea. Toni Long demonstrated for me the true power of PageMaker. David Porter clariﬁed important facts and provided historical information. Frederick Sparks helped with fundraising and monitoring the budget. Lyzettc Settle added critical comments and an extremely thorough and detailed revision of the text. Danzy Senna, Joy St. John, Stacey Leyton, Raoul Mowatt, Valerie Mih, Hillary Skillings, Judy Wu, Quynh Tran, and Cheryl Taylor meticulously proofread the ﬁnal drafts. Elsa Tsutaoka gave advice on design, layout and cutting photos. MEChA loaned us its layout equipment The staff in the ASSU Business Ofﬁce always cheerfully facilitated ﬁnancial transactions and questions.
Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program
Steve Phillips February 9, 2014 near San Francisco, CA ·
Throwback Sunday!! Truly old skool, long-term, lifetime friends. #comrades — with Pierre Barolette, Stacey Leyton, Kathleen Coll, Cheryl Taylor, Amanda Kemp, Michael Jamanis and Georgina Hernandez-Clarke.
- Stanford Daily, Student play honors 25th anniversary of the 1989 takeover October 26, 2014 0 Comments Stephanie Zhang
- The Stanford Daily, Volume 195, Issue 72, 2 June 1989]
- Center for Third World Organizing website: Alumni Network (accessed on Aug. 16, 2010)