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Q&A on Nov. 14, 2017 Robert Spencer event

This page of frequently asked questions was created in advance of the campus appearance by Robert Spencer that occurred on November 14, 2017.

What is the event being planned?

Robert Spencer has been invited by the Stanford College Republicans to give a lecture at Stanford on Tuesday, November 14. The event will be held in Building 320-105 at 8:15 p.m. It will consist of a 45-minute lecture followed by a 45-minute Q&A session. The event is for invited guests and members of the Stanford community, and Stanford identification will be required for entry.

Spencer is an author and director of the Jihad Watch blog, which describes itself as “dedicated to bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology play in the modern world and to correcting popular misconceptions about the role of jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts.”

Note that Robert Spencer is not the same person as Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who recently spoke at the University of Florida.

Who invited the speaker to Stanford?

The Stanford College Republicans, working with the Young America’s Foundation, decided they wanted to bring Robert Spencer to campus with the goal of engaging students in a dialogue. The student organization has noted that they want to hear Robert Spencer’s views on terrorism.  While the Young America’s Foundation is considered a co-sponsor of the event, all event decisions reside with the Stanford College Republicans.

Who may attend the event?

At the request of the Stanford College Republicans, the event is for members of the Stanford community and outside guests invited by the College Republicans.  The primary audience will be Stanford students. Stanford University IDs will be required and scanned.  This is not a public event.

Why isn’t the event freely open to members of the public?

Events sponsored by recognized student organizations are designed primarily for a student audience since they are planned and funded by students and the university.  The central mission of Stanford student organizations is to serve its students. Stanford is also a private institution on private property, unlike public universities.

How is the event being funded?

The event is being funded by multiple sources. The sponsoring student organization will fund the bulk of the costs through its funding from the student government (Associated Students of Stanford University). Some university funds will also be provided through a program that provides a partial subsidy for events requiring security.

Why is Stanford allowing this event?

As part of Stanford’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas, when student organizations within our community genuinely want to hear an outside speaker, the university and the Associated Students support their efforts as long as university policies are followed.

Certain types of speech are not permitted under university policy – for example, threats of harm that constitute a hate crime, instances of unlawful harassment, or speech that disrupts classes or other university functions. But the university’s commitment to the free expression of ideas means that it does not otherwise restrict speech within the university community, including speech that some may find objectionable.

Stanford also supports the rights of all members of the university community to protest peacefully against opinions with which they disagree. And the university stands in full support of its Muslim students, faculty and staff, who are integral to the Stanford community.

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell have shared a broader perspective on Stanford’s commitment to both the free expression of ideas and an inclusive campus culture in a blog post.

What resources are available to me if I am fearful because of this event?

We recognize that some members of our community may feel upset that this speaker has been asked to speak at Stanford. The university has a number of resources available to students who find themselves impacted.  Students are encouraged to seek assistance from a Resident Dean, the Community Centers, staff from the Office of Religious Life, CAPS or the Dean of Students Office. In addition, a number of Student Affairs staff will be at the lecture and available to support students at the event as well as afterwards.

Are alternative events being organized?

Staff from the Office of Religious Life, the Community Centers and other Student Affairs offices will be available at a gathering in the CIRCLE (third floor, Old Union) immediately following the event.  The Markaz Resource Center is also hosting a series of informal gatherings for students interested in coming together in community over the next week.

What is Stanford’s view on disrupting a campus event or speaker?

Stanford supports the rights of all members of the university community to protest peacefully against opinions with which they disagree. However, disrupting a university event or prohibiting a speaker from speaking are not allowed under the university’s Policy on Campus Disruptions. These actions could carry consequences under the Fundamental Standard or Code of Conduct.

What other information is available?

Event Planning Policies – Student Activities and Leadership

Policy for Events Requiring Security or Extraordinary Resources – Office of Special Events and Protocol

Exclusive from the College Republicans: Why We Invited Robert Spencer – Stanford Review

Senate Condemns Robert Spencer Event – Stanford Daily

An Open Letter to the College Republicans Regarding Robert Spencer – Stanford Daily

On the Robert Spencer Event – Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Dean for Religious Life Jane Shaw