Concern over Verbal Assaults Against API Students and Staff [SAPAAC Board Statement]

To the Leadership of Stanford University,

Every generation of Stanford students deserves to learn and grow in an environment that is safe, respectful, and welcoming. As alumni of Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) descent, we were disturbed by the reports of harassment of API persons on the Stanford campus since February, including students and staff members of the Asian American Activities Center. We understand that incidents have occurred across campus, including at White Plaza, Tresidder, the bookstore, the arboretum, and that the verbal assaults included suggestions that Asians were “invading” campus.

(1)  We encourage the University to thoroughly investigate the assaults and do its utmost to prevent individuals who use threatening language from repeating this behavior.

(2)  We ask the University to reassure Asian American and Pacific Islander students and staff that they are in a safe environment, and to affirm that Asians are welcome on campus.

(3)  We suggest proactively meeting with the API community and listening to their concerns on these matters, whether students or their staff and alumni representatives. Their insights can inform the response to such incidents, as well aid the University in creating a broader environment of inclusion.

As concerned alumni, we will continue to monitor the situation and will consult with the A3C and API groups to ensure that students feel safe. We hope that concrete actions are taken in response to these incidents, and periodically placed back on the Administration’s agenda for review.

Thank you for supporting an educational environment that welcomes all persons, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or nationality. 

Board of Directors, SAPAAC
Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club

Support for Martial Arts Groups [Board Statement]

Dear Susie Brubaker-Cole, Emelyn dela Peña, and Student Activities Leadership,

We write to share the collective dismay of many Asian American and Pacific Islander alumni who participated in martial arts and other club activities while at Stanford and were positively affected by their experience. Over the years, martial arts groups have established a track record of serving the Stanford community. We were thus very surprised to hear that all the groups were suspended—and particularly distressed that this decision was carried out right as students were ending the quarter, without adequate time for consultation and with little chance for appeal.

We understand that many students and alumni supporters have written letters expressing their support for martial arts groups, and asking for the temporary suspension to be lifted. We hope that the groups can operate normally and recruit students this fall, while working to comply with any newly-enumerated university requirements. Otherwise, they risk being unable to recruit new student participants, which could negatively impact their ability to serve the Stanford community, as well as prevent them from meeting the VSO standards regarding student membership and leadership.

Given this wave of collective outcry, we thank you for responding with your letter to the community. We appreciate that students and alumni are heard by the Stanford administration. We hope you will work productively with martial arts groups to resolve any outstanding matters. In the meantime, we wish to bring to your attention a few points that have arisen through our own dialogue with martial arts groups at Stanford:

1)    Participating in martial arts is a crucial outlet for many students to maintain both physical and mental well-being. Time and again, we are reminded that mental health is incredibly important. Please keep this option available to students.

2)    In addition to training their own members, martial arts groups offer services to the Stanford community at large, including free seminars on women’s self-defense. Such trainings are well-received and provide a useful service.

3)    Martial arts are passed down from teacher to student, and refined through years of practice. It is crucial that groups be allowed to recruit high-quality instructors with sufficient experience to safely train others. Inexperienced students training other inexperienced students is not a feasible model for safely running a martial arts group.

4)    Many of Stanford’s martial arts groups draw from traditions that originated in the Asia-Pacific region, including karate, kendo, tae kwan do, wushu and others. Through martial arts, Stanford students encounter Asian cultures in a positive context. We hope this cultural representation can be sustained by allowing martial arts clubs to operate.

5)    If student groups are intended to be “student run, student led,” please respect the wishes of students in maintaining a unique culture and high standard of martial arts instruction and practice.

6)    The student activities working group that will address these issues only appears to have room for one “alumnus.” Given the interest of alumni as part or present participants in Stanford martial arts groups, we wonder if more alumni engagement could be possible.

7)    In the future, we hope that when undertaking sweeping actions that impact many members of the Stanford community, a more proactive and consultative approach can be adopted. A respectful genuine dialogue would allow the Stanford community sufficient time to respond, instead of a mandate during finals week.

Again, we appreciate your response to our community’s letters. Stanford’s API alumni will continue to observe this issue, and we look forward to a productive resolution. We fondly recall Stanford to be a safe learning environment, where students are empowered to pursue diverse interests and passions, including in the martial arts—and are eager to see it remain this way for future generations.

Board of Directors, SAPAAC
Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club

More background on the issue can be found here:


MD alumna rallies 150 doctors in support of social justice in medical education

Dr. Crystal Zheng (‘10, MS ‘11) specializes in public health and infectious disease.

Dr. Crystal Zheng (‘10, MS ‘11) specializes in public health and infectious disease.

Dr. Crystal Zheng (‘10, MA ‘11) has been an advocate in the world of public health and infectious disease, including her comments on gun violence and its impact on patients earlier this year. After graduating from Stanford, she attended the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Recently, Dr. Zheng encountered an op-ed by a former dean at UPenn, who suggested that doctors should not be learning about issues of social justice or environmental sustainability.

Dr. Zheng saw this administrator’s statement as contrary to her beliefs about the need for a broad-based medical education, and decided to organize her medical school classmates—now all doctors—to respond. In her own words:

In the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, who happened to be the associate Dean of Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine while I was there as a medical student, argued that social justice should not be included in medical school curricula at the expense of “basic scientific knowledge.” Continuing the conversation, the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal suggested, “Maybe we should begin to wonder about the quality of the doctors who graduate from Penn.”

As one of those doctors, and as someone whose drive stems from a deep-rooted belief in the role of doctors as vehicles for social justice, I felt compelled to compose an open letter to my former dean. In the letter I ask, “How could someone with such a limited view of the scope of medicine have been responsible for determining what we learned or did not learn during medical school?” I posted the letter online with mine as the lone signature, not sure whether anyone else was going to join me.

In the end, with over 150 signatures from his former students, the letter expresses a collective voice that provides a resounding rejection of Dr. Goldfarb’s ideas. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind; you most likely aren’t alone.”

— Dr. Crystal Zheng

You can read Dr. Zheng’s open letter on Medscape, which has now accrued over 150 signatures from doctors around the country. Follow her on Twitter @CrystalZhengMD

Medical doctor, Stanford grad (‘10) speaks out on gun violence

A SAPAAC member is in the news! Dr. Crystal Zheng, an infectious disease specialist and Stanford alumna (‘10, MS ‘11) published an op-ed affirming that "gun violence does affect the Infectious Diseases community" and issuing a "call to action to engage in the conversation, advocate for our patients, and join with other medical societies in affirming a commitment to gun violence prevention."

More and more physicians have declared #ThisISOurLane and those treating gunshot wounds should be part of the conversation, after the National Rifle Association (NRA) suggested doctors should "stay in their lane" and not comment about gun violence.

Dr. Zheng's article is available here:

Let’s Join the Lane: The Role of Infectious Diseases Physicians in Preventing Gun Violence