Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, December 6, 2000
Campus suspends dorm votes as UFW ends grape boycott

President John Hennessy on Tuesday released the following statement on the suspension of dining-hall based grape boycotts:

In May 1994, five Chicano/Latino students initiated a hunger strike, demanding, among other things, a university-wide boycott of grapes. As a result, President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza Rice appointed faculty, students and staff to a newly established Grape Policy Committee to assess university policy on grapes. The committee issued a report the next February, which was followed by a response from President Casper and Provost Rice in April. The president and provost determined that a "university-wide boycott of grapes [was] not justified" and instead decided that the university should consistently implement a 1988 recommendation giving residents in each dining hall the power to decide whether grapes should be served. For the last six years (including this fall), the university has implemented an educational program that presented differing viewpoints on the grape boycott followed by a vote in each of the dining halls.

In November of this year, United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez called off the UFW's 16-year boycott of California table grapes. Citing recent advances for the union, Rodriguez said it was "not fair to ask [UFW] supporters to honor a boycott when the union must devote all of its present resources toward organizing and negotiating contracts."

The UFW's decision came in the midst of the vote on the dining hall boycott. After hearing from other university officers and consulting with students, I have decided that the recent student vote will not be implemented. In addition, the educational program administered by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Residential Education will end.

For many years now, the grape boycott has provided an opportunity for Stanford students to engage in an important dialogue about the living and working conditions of farm workers. It is important to remember that some Stanford students and their families come from farm-worker backgrounds. I would like to acknowledge the important work done by the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Residential Education and many dedicated students, faculty and staff in creating the context for a discussion about the grape boycott and the larger issues it encompassed.

Stanford students have a long tradition of considering and debating issues of social justice and public policy. I believe this tradition is an important part of the educational process. I want to encourage students to continue an open dialogue in their residences and other settings about issues that are important to them and society in general, while maintaining respect for a diversity of viewpoints.