Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Michael Friedly

League recruitment deterred many

Secretive process alienated dozens who were approached

First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 67, 30 May 1990.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A secretive recruitment process used by the League of Revolutionary Struggle has alienated dozens of students involved in progressive politics over the past few years, according to students interviewed by The Daily.

Over the past several years, League members have recruited elected student representatives and potential candidates in the ASSU through the Committee on Democracy in Education; MEChA, a Chicano/Latino student group; the Asian American Student Association and the Black Student Union.

Recruitment for the League is very selective. Most students within these groups have not been recruited and had not even heard of the League before The Daily’s recent stories on the League’s influence at Stanford.

Unlike many national Marxist organizations, the League focuses its attention on people of color organizations because of its theory of liberating oppressed races in America through the creation of a socialist state.

Recruitment is conducted for the League by past and present Stanford students who are League members, as well as by various University staff members, according to students who were recruited.

The Daily’s information on recruitment comes from interviews with more than 20 Stanford students who say they were recruited by the League.

Recruitment for the League by individual League members at Stanford and other universities has continued steadily to the present through various study groups, according to a number of Stanford students who were recruited.

Delia Ibarra, a former co-chair of MEChA, said she was recruited by the League through Gina Hernandez, who served as co-chair with Ibarra last year. Hernandez was an original founder of MEChA in 1985 and has been a leader in the community since then.

Ibarra said that, last year as co-chair, she told Hernandez she admired her for her dedication to Chicano issues and wanted to be more like her. Hernandez replied that if Ibarra really wanted to be like her, she would join the League, Ibarra said.

When Ibarra refused to join the League, she was excluded from the MEChA decision-making process by Hernandez and other League members in the organization, according to Ibarra. She said she was never consulted by Hernandez on important decisions in MEChA because she did not join the League even though she was still the co-chair of the organization.

Hernandez said she had never heard of the League. She could not be reached last night for further comment.

League members “like to recruit people who are very impressionable, people who they think they can manipulate,” Ibarra said. At Stanford, the League primarily recruits freshmen and sophomores, according to Ibarra and others who were recruited.

Richard Suh, who resigned the chair of AASA in October because of the League’s heavy influence in progressive politics, said he was recruited over the course of three years by Elsa Tsutaoka, the office manager of the Asian American Activities Center.

Suh said he attended four study groups, beginning as a freshman and continuing into his junior year, before being asked to join the League.

Tsutaoka denied any involvement in recruiting for the League.

Study groups are usually led by one or two League members. Students who are recruited discuss issues of socialism, Marxist theory, people of color movements and student activism.

“It’s kind of like Marxism 101,” according to Suh.

Students who are recruited are generally not initially told that the study groups are sponsored by the League or given information on the League until they are invited to more advanced study groups, according to several students. Discussions at advanced study groups generally center around the role of the League in progressive movements.

In addition, many study groups deal with the individual experiences of League members outside Stanford, according to Suh and other students who say they were recruited.

Students are generally required to go through a series of study groups before being asked to join the League, according to Suh and other students who were recruited.

Students who are recruited usually have a single contact person within the League, a member who invites them to the study groups or other League events and eventually gives them information on the League.

Study groups are often held at El Centro Chicano and in upstairs rooms in the School of Education, as well as at the houses or apartments of League members outside Stanford.

Most students interviewed by The Daily who were initially recruited did not continue going to study groups, often because they did not agree with the League’s ideology. “This group ideologically wasn’t what I was looking for,” said one recruit in AASA who asked not to be identified.

In addition, many students who are recruited are not invited to further meetings, presumably because League members do not feel that they fit the political criteria of the League.

Several students reported going to these meetings without knowing that they were League meetings or that they were being recruited by the League. “I didn’t pick up on what they were trying to do, and that’s probably why I wasn’t invited back,” said a MEChA member who was recruited in his freshman year.

The League has been more open about its recruitment practices in MEChA because of the larger degree of influence it has in the group, according to MEChA members who say they were recruited. Although the process is still secretive, a greater number of students in MEChA are recruited than in other student of color communities or the ASSU.

Students are often asked to go to other events, such as speeches by League members, many of them in Berkeley or Oakland, where the League has greater membership. League leaders such as Amiri Baraka have spoken at Stanford in recent years to students, including a number of students who were being recruited by the League.

After going to a series of study groups or other League-sponsored events, students being recruited may be asked to join the League depending on whether they are “politically correct,” meaning that they fit the ideological criteria of the League, according to sources.

Recruited students are required to write an essay on why they want to be in the League before they are offered membership in the organization.

The League tries to recruit students who are coalitionists rather than nationalists, meaning those who believe that color groups should work together for a common goal rather than focusing on only the problems of individual color communities.

League theory states that the United States is composed of various “oppressed nations,” such as the black nation in the South, the Chicano nation in the Southwest and the Asian-American nation. These nations must work in coalition to bring about a socialist state in America, according to a 1986 book by the League titled “Peace, Justice, Equality and Socialism.”