Steve Ostrander

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Steve Ostrander

Stanford activism

Ostrander was involved in the ASSU Committee on Democracy in Education, the Peoples Platform, the takeover of University President Donald Kennedy’s office and the California Progressive Student Alliance.[1]

Radical father

In the 1960s, Ostrander's father worked in the Washington, D.C. civil rights movement as an assistant minister in a black church. As a result of his work with such movement figures as Stokely Carmichael, James Bevel and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Federal Bureau of Investigation tapped the telephone lines in his church office and in our house. As a result of the FBl’s “counterintelligence program” (COINTELPRO), my father was interviewed several times about his and others’ activities.[2]



According to Danzy Senna, Stanford Daily Editorial staff;

Nine Stanford students joined leaders from across the nation last week in Selma, Ala., to re-enact and commemorate a 1965 voting rights march and discuss the unfinished business of the civil rights movement. The Stanford group, calling itself "Project Democracy II," went to record the history of the original march, called "Bloody Sunday" because it ended in bloodshed and violence, but in the process found a new chapter of history being written before its eyes. "I was figuring we'd meet some of our civil rights heroes, we'd sing some freedom songs and that would be it," said senior Stephen Ostrander, "but right away we realized that the struggle was still going on." The group found that the newest emphasis in the civil rights movement is on educational rights.

Present were Lyzette Settle, Dana Johnson, Kimera Koff, Jay Tucker and Michelle Graves marching behind a Black Student Union banner.[3]

Manipulated by the LRS

A steering committee which was comprised of at least two members of the League of Revolutionary Struggle and several others who were being actively recruited at the time were behind much of the planning for the May 15, 1989, takeover of University President Donald Kennedy’s office. The protest was staged to demand an Asian-American tenured professor position, a fulltime Chicano dean and a director for the African and AfroAmerican Studies Program among other goals. Although these goals were widely accepted in the color communities that sponsored the action, it was the tactics of the takeover planned by the committee that alienated many students.

“It was the tactics and not the goals (of the takeover) that were planned” by members of the League who sat on the committee, according to a student arrested for involvement in the takeover who knew of the League’s influence. “When specific decisions are made about what tactics to use, such as whether or not to do a takeover for example, these people have a lot of influence, because they’re the ones who are leaders.”

Most people involved in the takeover did not know of the League’s influence in the tactical planning of the action. Steve Ostrander, a senior who was arrested in the takeover, said he was “shocked” when he was told in January that some of the people he had worked with on the takeover and other issues were League members.

Ostrander said he felt “manipulated” by the League members because he was not told “where the power was really coming from.”

“I had worked feverishly [in progressive politics] . . . but in the end these people couldn’t tell me what was really going on,” he said. Committee members were selected from the ASSU Committee on Democracy in Education, AASA, MEChA, the Stanford American Indian Organization and the black community. The BSU did not officially approve of the takeover but supported the participation of individuals within the BSU.

The steering committee met in complete secrecy, deciding that a physical takeover of the building would be necessary to achieve its goals. Gina Hernandez from MEChA and Leyton from CODE, who sat on the steering committee, are League members, according to a number of sources. Leyton denied having any connections with the League. Hernandez said she had never heard of the League.[4]


  3. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 25, 14 March 1990]
  4. [ Michael Friedly League has played little-known role in campus politics First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 63, 23 May 1990.]