Call for western civilization courses at Stanford gets backlash

The Stanford Review’s petition to bring Western Civilization courses back to Stanford has been met with some backlash.

Western Civilization courses have been absent from Stanford’s curriculum since the 1980’s when, according to a New York Times article, Rev. Jesse Jackson marched with students to remove the courses. Jackson, along with students, chanted “hey hey, ho ho, Western culture’s got to go.” Protesters complained that the Western culture course had “European-Western and male bias,” and “sexist and racist stereotypes.”

Seeing the importance of Western Civ courses, The Stanford Review released a manifesto and a petition to bring these courses back, arguing that “interrelated trends at Stanford, both recent and long-term, compel us to act now to reinstate a Western Civilization requirement.”

The manifesto that precedes the petition covers a multitude of ideas and puts the necessity for Western Civ course in context of the recent events at Yale and Mizzou, noting that “the West’s history of colonization and racial oppression is also essential to understanding why the events at Yale and Mizzou arose in the first place.

The Review’s manifesto acknowledges issues with Western civilization in general, noting that “Some students object that a singular focus on Western Civilization would glorify the blights of Western history like colonization and slavery. These blights are undeniable and cannot be neglected on a syllabus.

“But these sins should not rule out a Western Civilization requirement, for two reasons. First, although Western history has stories of repression, so do the histories of every global civilization. And Western values of free speech, rationalism, and individual liberty fueled the intellectual destruction of colonialism in Western and other societies.”

The petition has reportedly received over 370 signatures, qualifying it to be voted on during the Associated Students of Stanford University spring elections in April.

The manifesto and petition appear to have sparked some backlash.

According to another Stanford Review article chronicling the backlash, Review staffers were called “everything from ‘dusty’ to ‘racist’ to ‘b**ch’ to ‘pendejos’ to ‘disgusting.’”

Signers of the petition have been publicly called out and asked to defend their signatures. Facebook has been particularly nasty, and according to the Review, users have “used the most vulgar language known to English and Spanish on our page, have asked if we will “be reading Mein Kampf”, have decried Western Civ as “bully[ing] and attack[ing],” and have said they are “disappointed” by people voting just to discuss a policy.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ChrisNuelle