Stanford Daily Op-Ed (April 5, 2011)

How many times have you heard these words uttered on campus: “I feel like we’re disjointed!” or “There’s just not enough unity on campus?” Despite all the efforts of student groups and their leaders, there remains an underlying feeling that we are not the united Stanford that we want to be. It is daunting to hear how often this sentiment is expressed.

There is something each and every one of us can do, though. Blessed with the opportunity to attend a university rich with diversity, we should make our Stanford experience whole by learning from the lives of our fellow students. To not do so is to squander the rare opportunity to revel in true diversity. The Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) sees this challenge and organizes around it.

Comprised of the Asian American Students’ Association (AASA), the Black Student Union (BSU), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), the Muslim Student Awareness Network (MSAN), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Stanford American Indian Organization (SAIO), the leaders of our groups know what it means to learn from and through diversity. To us, the strength and sovereignty of our communities is essential, as diversity is impossible to have if every participant forfeits his or her own ideas. But we not only maintain our individual identities, promoting understanding and unity from within each of our communities – we also work together to combat injustices and advocate for social change. SOCC realizes the strength and value of unity. Originally founded as the Rainbow Coalition in 1987, during a time when cultural and ethnic diversity seemed a low priority, SOCC has worked to protect and promote the values of students of color on campus. Since then, we have naturally expanded our mission to advocate for campus diversity of every nature – diversity of thought, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, political ideology, geographic origins and religious beliefs. SOCC represents the continuation of a long tradition of student leaders and their communities fighting for systematic changes that allow all student groups to provide the programming and support they need to continually strengthen our vibrant communities.

In the larger scheme of things, ASSU elections seem like an obscure way to effect such a change, but year after year, we engage with the ASSU, the elections and its leaders because these are the most direct ways of strengthening Stanford’s diversity and protecting the interests of student organizations across campus. Who better than our elected leaders to forge a voice for all voices, give a face to all peoples and make a space for everyone at the table? SOCC understands the value in bringing people together not to exclude, but to edify all associated students of our dear alma mater. There is strength in peoples united. There is value in student leaders thinking critically about how to truly engage the incredibly diverse life experiences and sources of wisdom that exist within us all. This is why we build coalitions. This is why we invite you to join in our coalition. This year, SOCC endorses 15 Senate candidates and one executive slate who we believe demonstrate the greatest commitment, knowledge and passion about student body issues and will fully represent the richness of Stanford.

This election cycle, let us do away with sayings like “our campus is fragmented.” As you look towards the upcoming April 7 and 8 elections, please recall SOCC’s commitment to service, leadership, student advocacy and community. A vote for SOCC is a vote for you.

Tina Duong, Asian American Students’ Association Community Liaison
Justin Lam, Asian American Students’ Association Community Liaison
Van Anh Tran, Asian American Students’ Association Financial Officer
Yvorn Aswad-Thomas, Black Student Union Co-President
Alryl Koroma, Black Student Union Co-President
Ingrid Hernandez, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán Co-Chair
Aracely Mondragon, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán Co-Chair
Mai El-Sadany, Muslim Student Awareness Network President
Navid Chowdhury, Muslim Student Awareness Network Vice President
Matt Miller, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Co-President
Autumn Williams, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Co-President
Lia Abeita-Sanchez, Stanford American Indian Organization Co-Chair
Janet Bill, Stanford American Indian Organization Co-Chair
Milton Achelpohl, Students of Color Coalition Liaison
Tiq Chapa, Students of Color Coalition Liaison
Minh Dan Vuong, Students of Color Coalition Liaison