In a statement released on Wednesday, Stanford University admitted that it had mistreated Jewish applicants in the 1950s, which was something it had denied before.
Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne delivered the apology after a task group he created in January found the elite Northern California university had taken measures to restrict admissions of Jewish students in the years after World War II.
In a letter to the Stanford community, Tessier-Lavigne said, “On behalf of Stanford University, I wish to apologize to the Jewish community and 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 following.” These deeds were unethical. They did a lot of harm. Also, they went unrecognized for much too long.
Tessier-Lavigne writes that the duration of this “appalling anti-Semitic behaviour” and whether it spread to other schools or pupils is unknown. “The report, however, details how the drive to reduce Jewish enrollments had enduring repercussions and discouraged some Jewish students from applying to Stanford in subsequent years.” Furthermore, the research demonstrates that the university denied any anti-Jewish bias in admissions when questioned about its policies in later years. ”
The new investigation confirms “some awful parts of Stanford’s past that are saddening and very troubling,” he said. However repulsive it may be, as a university, we must recognize and confront it as part of our history and work to improve it.
According to Tessier-Lavigne, it is “logical to ask whether any of the past anti-Jewish bias documented by the task committee continues in our admission process today.”
We know it doesn’t, he assured us.
According to The Mercury News in San Jose, California, Rabbi Jessica Kirschner, the Executive Director of Hillel at Stanford, a Jewish student organization, said, “I want to lift up President Tessier Lavigne’s apology as a notable example of institutional teshuvah — an acknowledgement of past wrongdoing and a clear and specific commitment to ensure a supportive and bias-free experience at Stanford.”
The investigation found that in the early 1950s, Rixford Snyder, the school’s director of admissions at the time, “worked to limit the number of Jewish students” who could enroll at Stanford. This was done “with the knowledge of many in Stanford’s management.”
The study said that Stanford “claimed that the school did not have a quota for Jewish students” because it had targeted high schools with a lot of Jewish students.
It claimed that Snyder’s “intentions to act against Jewish students” were documented in a note from 1953 (called the “Glover Memo”) despite “decades of denials.”
According to the report, Snyder wanted the university to “disregard our declared policy of paying no heed to the race or religion of applicants,” His request was relayed to then-assistant Stanford president Wallace Sterling, Frederic Glover. Sterling died in 1985.
As Glover explained, Snyder (who passed away in 2009) was especially worried about Beverly Hills High School and Fairfax High School in Southern California because of the large Jewish student populations at both campuses.