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Stanford Report, September 11, 2002

Outpouring of support for Muslim students 'remarkable,' provost says

It's an old message by e-mail standards, but Provost John Etchemendy has kept it in his inbox. Written by a Muslim student at Stanford as part of an exchange about intolerance toward Muslim students on college campuses, the e-mail describes how the student and others were treated here. It talks about the support these students have received and the fact that the administration works to accommodate the dietary and gender guidelines that are part of their religion. And, it continues, "after 9/11, there was such an outpouring of support for Muslims on our campus that, seriously, it was overwhelming." Messages flooded the offices of Muslim student organizations -- many offering to escort Muslim students as they traveled on or off campus. "Their support was so pure and so generous. If you read some of the things they said, it would literally bring tears to your eyes," the e-mail continues.

"It is remarkable what a sophisticated and caring and tolerant community Stanford is," Etchemendy says. "You might think that's universal on university campuses -- but it's not. It really came home to me in the course of the year both in the way Muslim members of the community were treated and the way they in turn reacted toward others."

Recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations illustrate his point, he says. "There was a demonstration at Berkeley that became very heated, and one at San Francisco State University that became even more heated," he recalls. At Stanford, a pro-Palestinian protest and a counter pro-Israeli demonstration resulted in dialogue between the two groups. "It was a most remarkable difference. These three demonstrations all happened within a week. The one at Stanford, for whatever reason, resulted in a much more tolerant dialogue. We saw that happen all year."

--Barbara Palmer

John Etchemendy

John Etchemendy