The Western Civ petition is nothing but a step back in time

‘Hey hey ho ho western culture’s got to go’

While there are many views on the current Western Civ petition presented by the Stanford Review, I’ll spare you another opinion about it. However, the current debate does allow for a time of reflection and a learning experience.

The idea of a Western Civ requirement isn’t new to Stanford. In fact, in 1969, western civilization was removed as a requirement as universities moved to a less structured curriculum. Then in 1980 the university reinstated the requirement. However, in 1989 students across campus rallied to remove the requirement or at least amend parts of it. They chanted the phrase “hey hey ho ho western culture’s got to go”. This was not an aim of hostility towards the classics but rather a cry for equality, a time to give recognition to minority contributions to western culture.

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The reading list in place in 1989 was much like the one the Stanford Review has petitioned for, a list filled with male euro-centric authors. It allowed for only the white male view of history and ignored the voices of women, minorities, and people of color in the development of western civilization.

Further, the ideas represented were met with strong back lash by minority student organizations on campus. The 1989 Black Student Union president and writer for the Stanford Daily, said “the implicit message of the current curriculum is ”nigger go home.”

Students at the time reflected opinions that in an ever changing and more diverse world, students should be grounded in cultures outside of their own. Not just western culture but in global culture. America was not just the progress that came from Europe or the Founding Fathers but based on the progress of other groups as well. Hell, America was built on the backs of other groups.

With the amount of backlash the university has received in regards to a western civilization requirement, it is astonishing that some students would want to bring it back. However, this discussion is a learning opportunity. We should all to take a moment and reflect on Stanford’s history, both the good and the bad. We could stand to learn a thing or two.

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