Stanford condemns intolerant messages left on Día de los Muertos altar

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Two messages of intolerance were left on a Día de los Muertos altar in Norcliffe in early November, according to an academic position on the Protected Identity Breach (PIH) reporting website.

The first note, left November 2, read, “This is pure idolatry. Exodus 32:4-6,” referring to a series of Bible verses about idol worship. The note was deleted and a second appeared on Nov. 4 saying, “Still idolatry ok.”

On November 8, six days after the first incident and shortly after The Daily contacted the office for comment, the University acknowledged receipt of a report of the incident on the PIH website dashboard. , which tracks incidents that affect the Stanford community.

In its article, the University wrote: “This is particularly harmful because it was done during Dia de los Muertos, a cultural and religious tradition for many Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and other Latino communities. Additionally, any form of religious bias that shows intolerance of certain rituals and practices of others is unacceptable.

“A resident noticed the first and contacted residential student leaders, who then reported the situation to their resident director,” wrote Samuel Santos, associate vice president for inclusion, community and learning. integrative in a Daily email. “In addition, resident student leaders have filed a Protected Identity Breach (PIH) report.”

Altars, or “ofrendas” as they are called in Spanish, are exhibits dedicated to lost loved ones often set up in the weeks leading up to the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos – Day of the Dead – which is celebrated on November 1. . 1 and 2. Ofrendas often contain photographs of the deceased and their favorite foods or objects.

Courtney Rosales ’23, a Mexican American resident of Norcliffe, had considered contributing to the offering but decided against it, in part due to concerns about vandalism.

“I was aware of the offense before [it was vandalized] and I was really excited and comforted that it was in the dorm,” Rosales said. “I had this small but nagging fear, knowing that she was vulnerable in a place where there couldn’t necessarily be accountability.”

“I think I can handle the hate and anger directed at me, but towards lost loved ones it’s especially hard for me to bear,” Rosales added.

Rosales said she didn’t personally witness the note and found out about the incident through a post in the dorm’s GroupMe, which acknowledged that the offend had been vandalized, but didn’t. did not provide specific details of what was said.

“A lot of us have the same reaction: ‘I’m very glad I didn’t see it,'” Rosales said. “It’s scary to know that there is someone among us who thinks that.”

Norcliffe resident Arielle Pacheco ’25 expressed similar feelings of fear and sadness. “It’s really disheartening, to be a Latina and know the importance of Día de los Muertos, to celebrate it at home with my family, to know that someone not only in the Stanford community, but very close to my house, had something so offensive to say that they would put it on an altar, a place of memory,” Pacheco said.

Santos said Residential Education and El Centro Chicano y Latino are working to connect with affected students and are available to speak with students looking for support.

“We want to make this clear: we consider this a form of prejudice incompatible with academic values, and we reject any form of religious prejudice that shows intolerance toward the practices of others,” Santos wrote.

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