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.
"The status quo has got to go"
January 1988, holding placards asserting "The status quo has got to go" and "The core list is the real closing of the American mind," more than 100 students flanked an entrance to the Law School yesterday through which Faculty Senate members passed on their way to debate changes in the University's Western Culture requirement. Members of the Asian American Students Association, the Black Student Union, MEChA, the Stanford American Indian Organization, Stanford Organization for Lesbian and Gay Equality and Students United for a Democratic Education staged a demonstration in support of the Western Culture Task Force's proposed revisions of the Western Culture, or Area One, requirement.
The demonstrators, who held signs listing notable minority and women writers' names and quotations, turned out for the meeting to "show the Faculty Senate that we do have support from the community and to make sure the support is heard," BSU spokesperson Louis Jackson said. Sophomore Canetta Ivy read a statement written for the occasion by the Rev. Jesse Jackson praising the "courageous stuggle" of the Stanford students to change the curriculum. "The proposal to change the Stanford Western Culture program is in the best spirit of the Rainbow Coalition," Jackson wrote. "To be truly educated, one must study the fullness of our nation. The imminent changes at Stanford represent a positive step into the future for higher education in America," Jackson said. The demonstration was staged to show approval for the task force's proposal for a new course titled "Cultures, Ideas and Values." CIV would include the study of works from at least one European culture and at least one nonEuropean culture, as well as works by women and people of color. The current Western Culture core reading list of 15 authors would be abolished under the task force proposal.
In addition, the proposal calls for a review of the curriculum in three years, at which time a core list could be proposed, according to senior Rudy Fuentes, a student representative to the Faculty Senate's Committee on Undergraduate Studies. Senior Jinny Shinsato voiced AASA's support for the task force proposal. In a statement read at the demonstration, Shinsato said the proposal is a "progressive step" because it recognizes the importance of "contrasting ideas and values drawn from different traditions and cultures and of moving away from a Eurocentric focus."
In addition to Students for Western Culture, a group called "Save the Core!" met two days ago to organize a campaign in support of English Prof. William Chace's recent counterproposal to keep the core reading list and to add a selection of works by minorities and women to the required reading.
Louis Jackson wrote that the counterproposal should have been made a long time ago "if it was that important to them." The struggle to change the Western Culture requirement has gone on for almost eight years, Jackson wrote, but the opposition to change emerged only two days before the debate. "It was almost hypocritical in a way," he said. According to senior Julie Martinez, spokesperson for MEChA, Chace's proposal is "tokenist, adding a few minorities and women on the side to appease people." The task force proposal, if approved by the senate, would give "a much better perspective of the ideas that made our society and a better reflection of the people that make up this society today," Martinez said.
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.'
"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.
- As I sought to forge one document from various strands of folklore, scraps of paper, and scattered publications, I relied heavily on several important resources. The previous editors and staff members left us a valuable legacy. and i urge any students interested in writing to revive and rebuild that vital institution. Similarly, The Stanford Daily, and Contour Report provided helpful glimpses into the past that I have incorporated into this work. Joyce King, Robert Bacon and the other BSU members who wrote Black 70 produced a scholarly and beautiful document that both provided a wealth of information and challenged the to make this publication reﬂect the same high standards of excellence. Louis Jackson, director of the Ujamaa Archives, provided me access to Black 70 and other publications. Lewie Ford's The Black Power Imperative, a media chronology of the history of Black student activism highlighted many key events that I tried to include and develop. Thorn Massey's articles on "Being Black at Stanford" in The Stamford Magazine provided a valuable overview plus important details and facts. 
Unity student supplement
- Stanford Daily, Student play honors 25th anniversary of the 1989 takeover October 26, 2014 0 Comments Stephanie Zhang
- [The Stanford Daily, Volume 192, Issue 63, 22 January 1988]
- [Unity June 25, 2016]
- [The Stanford Daily, May 9, 1990]
- [The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 71, 6 June 1990]