On this eve before the voting commences, this Reality Check wraps up with a review on the referendum that’s got everybody’s gender-neutral underwear in a twist, a call for citizens to action, and an uninspired joke about Mayor McCheese.
Despite a ringing endorsement from Obama himself (Lord, forgive me for linking to The Weekly Standard), ROTC is strug-guh-ling to return to Stanford a 41-year exile. Honestly, it’s amazing how little people mention the history of its banishment. This issue literally almost tore this campus apart back in 1970. Next time you have a moment, track down a 1970 Stanford Quad to see some crazy photos. Back then, the issue was about publicly supporting the military when they were engaged in a war nobody wanted to be in. Now, it’s a battle of weary ROTC commuters vs. advocates for trans equality. Stanford is weird.
I haven’t heard of any argument for ROTC’s return other than “What, you don’t support the troops?”, and I especially don’t understand why now. At the same time, I have yet to hear of any trans-identified individual who loves his/her/per country that is currently being shut out of the military (not denying their existence, but perhaps arguing it is a limited number). This conflict is largely symbolic, then.
The institution to end all institutions up against a dedicated group of fringe radicals. Fitting then, is the increasingly popular movement to abstain on this issue, symbolic of Stanford’s apathy toward hot-button political issues (and I’m not buying the whole couching it in ambivalent concern either).
SSQL, the main political group leading, knows it’s not really championing a super-oppressed minority at Stanford, rather it’s trying to start a movement. Some people named Zach Warma call this a power grab for attention. If SSQL’s actions are truly a power grab, then this power grab is a more inefficient use of resources than iDeclare Week.
Trans-identified people are one of the most marginalized groups in America, such to the point that you still hear intellectually respectable people make real arguments for keeping them that way. The military is possibly the most conservative institution in America. At the very least, it’s one of the slowest to react to social change if there’s not a pressing need for soldiers.
SSQL knows that the struggle for trans liberation will be very long; it may be fifteen years before this issue enters the national discourse, but the movement can start right here at Stanford. If we, one of the leading academic institutions in America, rejected ROTC specifically on the grounds that it discriminated against trans-identified people, that would in fact send a message to the entire country.
If you truly believe that trans-identified people are your kin, and that they deserve every right that cis-gendered people do, then you will vote no on Measure A. If you know intellectually that there is nothing wrong trans people, but still think they’re kind of strange and don’t really like being around them, then abstain. If you think they just need to pick a gender and stop complaining already, vote yes. It’s that simple.
But seriously, Vote or Die
Look, I know that the ASSU at times seems like a monolithic dinosaur, but you guys are college students. You’re supposed to be idealistic. All that self-serving complaining about how stupid the system is and how candidates just want to get elected for the publicity just makes you sound like your divorced alcoholic uncle. If you think the system is that bad, then work outside it, but actually work. Take to the streets. Start a revolution. Don’t just complain at the dinner table.
ASSU elections might be the only time you will have in your life to participate in a pure political process for a community you care about. There are no multi-billion dollar PACs that are cagey with the facts, no media conglomerates with 24-hour news cycles, no boxes of sealed records that would undermine a squeaky clean image. It’s just you voting on the issues you care about and the people you want as leaders, all in an attempt to make Stanford a better place.
Seniors, you especially. Your turnout is abysmal. Please take the time in between job/grad school apps to vote. I know it’s easy to forget at this point in the year, but there are things out there bigger than yourself. Also, how many more times are you going to be able to Facebook stalk the people asking for your vote?