Stanford students use ‘Act of Intolerance’ policy against College Republicans

Stanford defines an “Act of Intolerance” as conduct or an incident that targets an individual or group based on race, ethnicity, sex, religion, or other statuses protected by law.

Stanford students reported the Stanford College Republicans’ Second Amendment event as an “Act of Intolerance.”

Students at Stanford University made several “Act of Intolerance” reports about a Second Amendment event promoted by the Stanford College Republicans.

The event was designed to help students “procure and maintain a firearm under the letter of the law as well-informed and responsible American Citizens.” Although members of the Stanford College Republicans organized the event, the club did not officially sponsor it.

The first draft of the registration form included the question “Did K*le R*ttenh**se do anything wrong?” referring to Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager charged in connection to the shootings of three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Students could respond with the answers “No,” “Yes. He tagged #3 but didn’t bag him” and “Decline to answer without a lawyer present.”

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In response, Stanford students reported the form as an “Act of Intolerance,” according to the Stanford Daily.

Stanford Student Affairs defines an “Act of Intolerance” as “conduct or an incident that adversely and unfairly targets an individual or group on the basis of one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics: race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, marital status or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.”

Stanford Student Affairs’s website clarifies that the Act of Intolerance protocol is “not a judicial or investigative process.” The goal of the process is to “provide a path to resolution for the affected individuals or community who need to heal.”

The Stanford College Republicans told Campus Reform that leftists submitted the Act of Intolerance forms regarding the content of the Second Amendment form itself. These students were “likely already looking for ways to display their malice against Stanford conservatives,” as it would have been impossible for leftists to access the form unless they were already “subscribed and lurking” on the College Republicans mailing list.

The College Republicans clarified that “the Kyle Rittenhouse question on the first draft of the form was obviously satirical. Anyone with even the slightest sense of humor would see that immediately. Unfortunately, it seems that leftists are increasingly unable to see it.”

The university has not yet reached out to any College Republican members about the Act of Intolerance reports.

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Nicole Neily, president of Speech First — an organization whose goal is to protect students’ constitutional rights — told Campus Reform that “Stanford's new AOI policy is deeply concerning on a number of levels,” as “the program's definitions are very broad.” As a result, students may “view conflict where it might not truly exist,” allowing the university to unnecessarily insert itself into personal relationships.

Neily also said that “because reports will be addressed on a ‘case-by-case basis,’ there's a clear implication that reports can (and will) be referred to other departments for further investigation and possible punishment. And although the school asserts that participation by a ‘responding party’ is voluntary, this ignores the power dynamic that exists between an accused student and university administrators.”

Neily directed Campus Reform toward the court ruling in Speech First’s 2019 case against the University of Michigan, which found that “these reporting programs have a chilling effect on student speech; many students choose to remain silent rather than face the prospect of a disciplinary hearing for expressing a 'controversial' viewpoint that their peers may deem intolerant.”

“It's little wonder that students are self-censoring at astonishing rates on campus today, with nearly 3 out of 4 "strong Republicans" doing so,” Neily pointed out, referencing a Foundation for Individual Rights in Education survey. 

Campus Reform reached out to Stanford University and the Stanford College Republicans for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft