Stanford University apologizes for discriminating against Jewish students in the 1950s
A 1953 memo advising against accepting applications from students at predominantly Jewish high schools in the L.A. area led to a decision to end recruiting at two schools
Stanford University is apologizing for its efforts to limit admission of Jewish students over 60 years ago.
On Wednesday, university president Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced recent findings from a task force report showed "parents and friends of applicants, alumni, outside investigators, and trustees" were regularly misled when asked about the prestigious school's admission practices.
A 1953 memo written by Fred Glover, the assistant to then-president Wallace Sterling, stated that accepting applicants from Beverly Hills and Fairfax high schools in Los Angeles would lead to "a flood of Jewish applications" the next admissions cycle. Both schools reportedly had Jewish student populations of 95% to 98% at the time,
The report then stated that admissions director Rixford Snyder ended recruitment at the two high schools. It was not noted if the university took similar actions with other high schools.
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Tessier-Lavinge sent out a university-wide memo denouncing the former practices, calling them "saddening and deeply troubling."
"On behalf of Stanford University I wish to apologize to the Jewish community, and to our entire university community, both for the actions documented in this report to suppress the admission of Jewish students in the 1950s and for the university’s denials of those actions in the period that followed," the memo read. "These actions were wrong. They were damaging. And they were unacknowledged for too long. Today, we must work to do better, not only to atone for the wrongs of the past, but to ensure the supportive and bias-free experience for members of our Jewish community that we seek for all members of our Stanford community."
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The task force findings led to recommendations for the university going forward focusing on two categories: "acknowledge and apologize" and "explore, educate, and enforce."
In conjunction with the task force recommendations, and as stated in Tessier-Lavigne’s letter, the university plans to "publicly acknowledge and apologize for actions to suppress Jewish admissions and mislead people who asked about them."
The university also plans to enhance Jewish life on campus by doing the following things: conducting a comprehensive study to address the needs of the community, addressing bias against Jewish people through inclusivity trainings and programs, enforcing a 2019 resolution asking the university to recognize antisemitism on campus, aligning the academic calendar to accommodate Jewish holidays, accommodating students' religious and cultural needs in housing and dining, and clarifying the university's relationship with Stanford Hillel, which is the largest independent organization at Stanford that serves the Jewish students on campus.
Stanford presented the complete findings of the task force's report during the History of Jewish Admissions and Experience on Thursday. A livestream of the event can be viewed here.
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The task force was made up of faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and students of Stanford University.