Mae Lee (West Coast)

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Mae Y. Lee is a Professor of Asian Studies at Stanford University.

Student activist


Upon arriving at Stanford last fall, Mae Lee was impressed by the commitment the University proclaimed it had to diversity and ethnic pluralism. "During Orientation, we constantly had this idea impressed upon on us about how this University is committed to multicultural education," she said. "I thought that was great and that it was really sincere." Two weeks ago, Mae Lee joined the protesters who occupied University President Donald Kennedy's office for nine hours. "The reality wasn't exactly equal to what they were saying," Lee said. As a member of the Asian American Students Association and the Students of Color Coalition, Lee said she has been frustrated in efforts to implement the vision espoused by Kennedy and others during freshman Orientation. While some have criticized the Agenda for Action coalition for incorporating too many freshmen who might not have been aware of the consequences of their actions, Lee said she believes this is not a fair attack. "I knew what I was getting into prior to the protest and actual sit-in," she said. She said she hasn't had any regrets since the takeover of Kennedy's office. Lee said she has found her freshman dorm, Otero House, to be a very supportive environment. There have been ample opportunities to discuss the issues surrounding the takeover, she said. "Even if people don't agree with us whole-heartedly over our tactics, they're willing to listen. . . . There are some people who disagree with the teactics and are very vocal about it, and I guess that's to be expected." Students in general have focused too much on the tactics of the coalition and not their goals, Lee said. "People are still stuck on the tactics and they use that as an excuse. If they agree with the issues, now is the time to come behind us and support us. We'll take responsibility for what we did."[1]

Peoples Platform

Three Council of Presidents slates debated at the Kappa Sigma house April 14 1991, answering questions ranging from policies toward Greek organizations to the scope of ASSU Senate debate. Mae Lee, a member of the Peoples Platform "Stand and Deliver" slate, said part of her slate's platform was to "reach out to the Greek community." Jenn Pearson of Stand and Deliver said she believes the controversial senate resolution opposing the Persian Gulf war "was not an appropriate forum." She added that the senate and COP "need to be accountable" and that she supports a constitutional amendment on the ballot requiring the senate to conduct a poll of student opinion before debating off-campus issues. [2]

The "Stand and Deliver" COP slate, was composed of sophomores Nicole Johnson and Mike Curry and juniors Mae Lee and Jenn Pearson. People's Platform, the dominant party in ASSU politics for the last five years, was founded by four student of color organizations — the Asian American Student Association, Black Student Union, Stanford American Indian Organization and MEChA, a Chicano/Latino student group. But the party has recently worked to "broaden its base of support by including all groups on campus," Pearson said. Slate members cited Curry's role as a member of the Interfraternity Council as example of efforts to incorporate other groups like the Greek system. "We can bridge the gap between the various student groups on campus," said Curry. "Our party has made a huge commitment to groups on campus. We have the mechanisms in place for action and have already earned trust from those groups." Experience with various campus groups is something that the slate is not lacking, its members say. Curry and Lee are both currently undergraduate senators. Johnson has worked in the Black Student Union, and Pearson is active in the Women's Center Collective and Students for Peace.[3]

"A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond"

Unity, January 28 1991, issued a statement "A call to build an organization for the 1990s and beyond" on pages 4 to 6.

This group was a split in the League of Revolutionary Struggle which soon became the Unity Organizing Committee.

Those listed as supporters of the call included Mae Lee, student senator Asian American Student Association Stanford University. .

Unity Organizing Committee

According to the The Stanford Daily, Volume 199, Issue 9, 14 February 1991, a group of Stanford students, faculty and staff are in the process of organizing a local committee as part of a new national coalition dedicated to progressive change in the United States.

Known as Unity, the organization hopes to promote “fundamental change in [the U.S.] policy system,” said sophomore Adriana Martinez, who is helping introduce the coalition to the Stanford campus.

Martinez said Unity values “true multiculturalism” – minority groups working together with mainstream white people who favor progressive change.

Among the more than 100 people who signed the article are several affiliated with Stanford, including Black Community Service Center Director Keith Archuleta, ASSU senators David Brown and Mae Lee and Council of Presidents member Ingrid Nava.

Brown has been a Stanford distributor of Unity newspaper for the past three years. Recently, he said he has played an active role getting students involved in the local committee.

About 35 Stanford students are now forming the local committee, which is intended to focus primarily on educational rights issues. Local Unity groups at other California campuses have initiated a lobbying effort against planned 40 percent to 60 percent tuition increases at University of California schools, Martinez said.[4]


  1. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 195, Issue 69, 30 May 1989]
  2. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 199, Issue 36, 15 April 1991]
  3. [ The Stanford Daily, Volume 199, Issue 34, 11 April 1991]
  4. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 199, Issue 9, 14 February 1991]