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Strawser | Don’t let democracy die at Stanford

Stanford’s punitive measures against the Daily reporter that covered the Building 10 occupation are at odds with the democratic values it preaches, Strawser writes.

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Two autumns ago, I joined The Daily because I wanted to make my Stanford experience into something with purpose. It will forever be my honor to have covered issues like Title IX advocacy, religious life, the Shopping Express, affirmative action, leadership transitions and university governance

The journey, certainly a challenging one, taught me that journalism for the greater good is journalism at its best. It gives a voice to the voiceless. It is the best safeguard against closed-door decisionmaking. When journalism thrives, our democratic society thrives with it. 

This matters more than ever at Stanford. Our community is confronting citizenship, democracy and diversity in unprecedented ways — during a presidential election year, no less. As Stanford plays a vital role in cultivating the leaders of tomorrow, we have the duty to ask ourselves the following question: How can we remain a democratic society if we let authorities remain unchallenged?

Our university’s democracy was put to the test last month. Stanford administrators have voiced their full support for criminal and disciplinary proceedings against a Daily reporter that diligently covered the Building 10 occupation. His presence was vital to provide an independent account of the actions of rioters and law enforcement, but Stanford’s top decision makers acted punitively against him even though he identified himself and complied with law enforcement directives. 

The University is endangering the future of independent student journalism on campus. I am scared for my fellow Daily writers who are to pursue coverage of campus politics. I also fear that students who might have otherwise gladly joined the paper now would not. 

In a May Faculty Senate meeting, President Saller claimed he only holds authority to suspend or expel students who directly threaten public safety. But the University supports criminal proceedings against a Daily reporter who does not present an “immediate threat to the health and safety of campus,” as the University itself acknowledged. In addition, using an office as untransparent as the Office of Community Standards (OCS) against the reporter for doing his First Amendment duty is nothing short of ironic. A reporter’s duty is to shed light on institutional processes, but the University is now using those processes to punish him.

The University is scaring students away from The Daily. This deprives the Stanford community of the robust journalism they need on issues like low pay and discrimination in our financial aid and admissions offices, the horrific conditions of UG2’s subcontracted workers and the University’s appalling inaction on campus Islamophobia and antisemitism

A university that truly stands by its policy record would never shy away from transparency and independent scrutiny.

As a student, I find that Stanford’s punitive measures against the Daily reporter are fundamentally at odds with the very democratic values it preaches to us.

Stanford claims a commitment to helping us develop the skills necessary to engage with one another in a democratic society through the Civic, Liberal and General Education (COLLEGE) courses that all freshmen are required to take. 

The designation of Democracy Day as an academic holiday tells us that the University values student engagement in the political process. 

The Faculty Senate formed the free speech committee (which lacks student representation) to send us the message that professors are making serious attempts at clarifying the policies meant to foster “free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas on campus.”

Stanford reminds us that our civic engagement is of the utmost importance, but at the same time deprives us of the journalism that makes us a properly informed campus citizenry.  

Stanford should be a place where the winds of freedom blow, and that occurs only if it stops putting the community’s premier, student-run publication on the chopping block. Our very democratic way of life calls for asking difficult questions and having even more difficult conversations. Rigorous inquiry and debate, evidently, cannot proceed if the citizenry is kept in the dark about how their lives are governed. 

Stanford must live up to its democratic promises. The University must acknowledge that, as 26 free press organizations have stressed, the reporter was “acting in good faith to serve the public’s interest in timely coverage of newsworthy events.” Criminal charges would set a disastrous precedent for campus discourse. Now would be the time for the University to support amnesty for the Daily reporter. The University needs to earn back its democratic standing.

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From GSB to Downing Street: Stanford reflects on Sunak’s prime minister term

The GSB alum resigned as U.K. prime minister following his Conservative Party's defeat. Stanford professors praised Sunak's tenure.

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Rishi Sunak MBA ’06 resigned as prime minister of the U.K. last Friday after leading the Conservative Party to an overwhelming loss in the general election.

Sunak’s resignation marked the Conservative Party’s worst defeat in history and an end to the party’s 14 years in power. Keir Starmer, the center-left leader of the Labour Party, took office at 10 Downing Street, pledging to rebuild trust in the British government.

Sunak received an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) in 2006 as a Fulbright Scholar. At Stanford, he met his future wife, fellow business student Akshata Murthy ’06, the daughter of billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy.

In a 2022 interview, Sunak praised the University. 

“At Stanford, you’re in the heart of an ecosystem and a culture that is unlike anything else I’ve seen in the world,” he said. “That desire to do things iteratively, to move quickly…those are all things that I’ve taken with me for the rest of my career and I’ve tried to bring them into government as well, which is a different animal.”

Sunak’s selection as prime minister in 2022 excited some Stanford students and faculty. 

“His ethos of civic-mindedness, and a desire to use his skills to advance the greater good, will serve him well as he prepares to lead the U.K.,” GSB Dean and incoming University president Jonathan Levin ’94 wrote at the time. “I wish him all the best.”

Sunak was the first person of color to become prime minister in British history. At 42, he was also one of the youngest. 

GSB associate dean for external relations Derrick Bolton M.A. ’98 MBA ’98 served as assistant dean for MBA admissions when Sunak and Murthy were students. Despite the election result, Bolton wrote to The Daily that the GSB “remains extremely proud” of Sunak and Murthy. “Akshata and Rishi are exemplars of service and leadership,” he wrote.

As the fifth consecutive Conservative prime minister since 2010, Sunak’s premiership followed Liz Truss’s deeply unpopular tax plan and Boris Johnson’s scandals. The British economy has struggled in recent years amid Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis.

The Conservative Party continued to decline in popularity under Sunak, despite policies aimed at stabilizing the economy. In a controversial move, his government also proposed to stop migrant crossings to the U.K. by deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.

“He did as well as anyone possibly could given the conditions he inherited,” Bolton wrote. “Voter sentiment was about changing from a party that had been in power for nearly 15 years, not about Rishi.”

Bob Joss MBA ’67 Ph.D. ’70, the former Dean of the GSB, also praised Sunak. “I believe he conducted himself quite admirably while in office,” he wrote. “He is a very good communicator and explained his policies and ideas clearly to the British people.”

Professor of organizational behavior Jeffrey Pfeffer Ph.D. ’72 once taught Sunak in a course titled “Paths to Power.” The class discussed that “falling from power requires one thing — achieving it in the first place,” Pfeffer wrote.

“I give Sunak a lot of credit for ascending the party ranks and becoming prime minister at a relatively early age,” Pfeffer added.

Pfeffer and Joss had few memories of interacting with Sunak as a student. The prime minister’s minimal impression on Stanford faculty drew attention from The Guardian in 2022. Joss wrote that he knew Murthy better than her husband: “Her parents visited the GSB and gave a great talk about their philanthropic efforts in India.”

Pfeffer connected Sunak’s tenure with Stanford’s entrepreneurial ethos. “Did he perform a miracle to keep the Conservatives in power? No. But, as we teach at the GSB about start-ups, there is no fault in trying,” he wrote.

U.K. student Niklas Viatio ’25 was less upbeat about Sunak’s legacy. “I think he’ll be remembered as pretty weak and ineffective,” he told The Daily. “He didn’t really achieve that much. He called an election at a bad time and had a horrifically awful political campaign.”

Viatio said he was neither surprised nor inspired by the result. “Not hugely enthused” by Labour’s victory, Viatio said he hoped to see a leader with “an actual vision” for the U.K.

Laith Gordon ’26, a London native, lauded the peaceful transition of power from Sunak to Starmer, inviting a comparison to the U.S., where concerns over democracy are mounting ahead of the presidential election. Joss also noted that Sunak “conceded the loss and congratulated his successor in what I thought was quite an exemplary manner.”

Gordon observed that both Sunak and Starmer stressed “kindness, decency and tolerance” in their speeches. “I hope with these values and a focus on the people, not the parties, the new leadership can navigate the U.K. through the challenges that it and the world faces over the next few years,” he wrote.

Although Sunak won re-election as a member of parliament, some have speculated that the former prime minister could flee London for Stanford. Sunak and Murthy own a penthouse in California, although it is located miles away from campus in Santa Monica.

“Who knows, maybe the GSB will be lucky enough to entice Akshata and Rishi to teach a course,” Bolton wrote. He recalled that the U.K.’s former Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne have taught or spoken at Stanford, giving students “a deeper understanding of the intersections of business and policy.”

”It would be cool to meet him if he does come here,” Viatio said.

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Stanford honors Juneteenth with forums, food and films

Community members participated in film screenings, food tastings and identity-focused discussion forums during the months of June.

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Stanford’s Juneteenth Committee hosted a vibrant array of events last month including art exhibits, cooking events and discussion forums to honor the holiday’s historical significance.

Juneteenth, short for June 19, marks the day General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, to ensure that all enslaved people could become free. The following year, freedmen in Texas organized “Jubilee Day” on June 19, which has since become an annual celebration of freedom. In 2021, President Joe Biden designated the day a federal holiday.

The committee’s programming began on June 4 with an opening art exhibit at the Redwood City Campus and a screening of “Rising: The Hall of Negro Life.” Many Bay Area arts communities such as the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland participated in the events that followed, sharing personal narratives through art.

Several food-centered events also gave participants a taste of Black culinary culture. Chefs Terry Braggs and William Montagne shared recipes and hosted food sampling sessions on June 18. During the “Food & Community” event on June 19, Chef Dillon Campbell served dishes like fried fish and jerk chicken and provided insights on the historical significance of the menu items.  

Braggs chose a risotto-style jambalaya and fried green tomato salad as his menu of the day during his signature live cooking demonstration on June 25. 

“If you look inside you can see the red, the green, the yellow,” he said. “It’s giving Juneteenth in such a beautiful and delicious way. It’s a time for celebration, a time for unity and a time for freedom — eating amazing food and making memories.”

Other parts of the University also hosted Juneteenth celebrations. Stanford School of Medicine Human Resources Group held two forums, one in-person and one virtual, for African American staff members across campus to connect with each other. Both forums were led by Solāris Noire, an operations director at the National Equity Project, an educational reform nonprofit. 

“Racial affinity is an important part of today, celebrating and bringing joy,” Noire said. “We are attempting to center history, center the Black racial experience. That is not necessarily asking for us to have ‘sameness,’ but really thinking about what it means to be Black at Stanford.”

During both forums, Noire led meditation sessions and guided conversations on African American culture. Among the questions the group discussed was what are the lands, the hands and the food that carried you?

Chris White, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Coordinator at Stanford School of Medicine, reflected on this prompt during the forum.

White said that the “hands” that carried her were those of her great-grandmother Mary Ann Griffin in Tyler, Texas. Griffin “was a great foundation that I still stand on, and she “set the tone and trajectory” for White and her family. Griffin also provided the food that carried White — a “good catfish dinner.”

White spoke positively of the forum. “It was refreshing to really get to know the people I work with beyond the workspace, understanding who they are as individuals and how that impacts their work and career choices,” she said.

Noire said that they hope to create an environment for attendees to make connections and also help meaningfully sustain those connections.

“Trying to make community and belonging more accessible and more approachable for folks is an opportunity for us to dream and imagine together,” they said. 

Although the month of June has passed, Juneteenth celebration continues. Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) will host a “Julyteenth” event on Friday, July 19, open to the community.

This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Mary Ann Griffin’s name. The Daily regrets this error.

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Remembering H. Bruce Franklin, Stanford professor fired for anti-war views

The formerly tenured English professor, a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist-Maoist known for his anti-Vietnam War activism, passed away on May 19.

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Former English professor H. Bruce Franklin, a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist-Maoist dismissed from Stanford in 1972 for his anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, died on May 19 at age 90. 

In his decades-long career as an academic and cultural historian, Franklin wrote and edited 20 books and received several awards — including the Eaton Award, the SFRA Pioneer Award and the Pearson-Bode Prize — across a vast range of scholarly fields. Franklin contributed to scholarship on the topics of science fiction, prison literature, American studies, environmentalism and the Vietnam War.

“Bruce had so many interest areas,” said his daughter Karen Franklin. “He was always delving into things and then sharing that with all of us.” She recalled fond memories of family dinners complete with “big family conversations about whatever was going on in our lives or in the world.” 

“He really encouraged us to think a lot and be curious about the world,” she said. 

Franklin became heavily involved in the anti-war movement in the Bay Area during the 1960s and ’70s. During his activist career, he co-founded an organization that would later become the Revolutionary Union, a precursor to the Revolutionary Communist Party, which in 1971 combined with the far-left group Venceremos

“He came of age in a really idealistic time period,” Karen Franklin said. “He really thought that people could change the world in a positive direction; he really did believe in world peace.” 

In January 1971, University administration charged Franklin with disrupting a speech by Henry Cabot Lodge, previous Republican Senator and ambassador to South Vietnam, and “urging violent demonstrations” the following month in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos. A panel of faculty judges ruled that Franklin did not take part in the disruption of Lodge’s lecture. However, they concluded that he had advocated for the occupation of the campus computer center and urged defiance against a police dispersal order.

The case against Franklin was “the most serious disciplinary actions brought against a faculty member since the early 1900s,” according to the University News Service. 

Franklin tried to challenge his firing in a court case sponsored by the ACLU, but Karen Franklin said their side seemed doomed from the beginning. 

The court consisted of “just this one young woman attorney for the ACLU against this whole battalion of high-powered attorneys working for Stanford,” she recalled. “It wasn’t much of an even match.”

In the end, Franklin’s efforts to appeal the termination were not successful. 

The University did not respond to a request for comment on Franklin’s dismissal. 

Professor of Law Emerita Janet Cooper Alexander M.A. ’73, Franklin’s former student and close mentee, was one of seven students suspended from Stanford at the same time as Franklin for “allegedly heckling” during Lodge’s speech, she said. 

Alexander said Franklin’s firing was “completely unjustified.” She called it “an assault on academic freedom and the First Amendment.”

“Even worse than firing him was the blackballing,” Alexander said. It took Franklin three years to get hired again after being dismissed from Stanford. Franklin went to community college in horticulture to prepare for a career as a gardener before finally being hired at Rutgers University-Newark.

At Rutgers, Franklin held a distinguished tenure and an endowed chair and was highly regard by his colleagues, according to Alexander.

Franklin continued to speak out on foreign policy issues at Rutgers. In 2014, he spearheaded a group that blocked Condoleezza Rice from being named commencement speaker, citing her foreign policy role in Iran and Iraq. 

Franklin was athletic and enjoyed sports, camping and hiking, according to Karen Franklin. He was a dedicated father of three.

Alexander remembers Franklin as a “brilliant scholar and a charismatic and deep teacher.” She said that his book “Wake of the Gods,” a study of American novelist Herman Melville’s mythology, is “maybe the most brilliant academic criticism I’ve ever read.” 

“He had such curiosity. You could see that in the way his scholarship expanded…he had a tremendous amount of empathy,” Alexander said. “That was the source of his politics. Whatever people would like to think, he loved people.”

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Sexual assault reported on campus, AlertSU states

A female victim was sexually assaulted in a student residence on early Sunday morning, according to an AlertSU.

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Content warning: this article contains references to sexual assault.

A sexual assault in a student residence was reported Tuesday evening, according to a Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) alert.

The victim, who was female, told a mandatory reporter that she was sexually assaulted by a male perpetrator in a student residence at 700 Block Campus Drive between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. The incident occurred after they “consumed alcohol together earlier in the evening,” according to the AlertSU. Further details about the alleged perpetrator’s age, height, weight, race, ethnicity and clothing were not disclosed to SUDPS.

SUDPS spokesperson Bill Larson wrote in an email to The Daily that SUDPS had not received any more details about the incident. 

“At this time, the unknown victim has not filed a report with our department,” Larson wrote.

According to the alert, the University “does not tolerate” sexual assault, misconduct or harassment and encourages victims to report incidents. Consent from both parties must be obtained before engaging in sexual activity; alcohol or drugs, which may incapacitate one or both parties, are not excuses for assault, the alert states.

The alert encouraged those with any additional details about the crime to contact SUDPS.

Resources for victims are available via the Office of the Provost for Institutional Equity, Access and Community and the SHARE Title IX Office

Learn more about the Clery Act and how The Daily approaches reporting on crime and safety here.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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Protesters, Daily reporter under three suspect felony charges for Building 10 occupation

The University lifted the suspension of Dilan Gohill '27, who was detained while reporting on the occupation for The Daily. All 13 detained individuals are scheduled for an arraignment in August.

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Stanford Daily reporter Dilan Gohill ’27 was among 13 individuals arrested for his presence at a pro-Palestinian student group’s occupation of the president’s office on June 5. All 13 were arrested by Stanford police on the suspicion of felony burglary, felony vandalism and conspiracy to commit the two.

Gohill was detained while reporting on the incident for The Daily. The other twelve, who were active protesters, included a former news managing editor for The Daily. She participated in the protest without The Daily’s knowledge and permission and has since resigned from her editorial position.

The individuals were immediately suspended, banned from campus and, in the case of seniors, not allowed to graduate. Gohill’s suspension and ban from campus was lifted, according to a June 10 update from the Stanford Report, because the administrators “do not believe he presents an immediate threat to the health and safety of campus.”

The report maintains that Gohill, along with the other protesters, did not have the right to be in the president’s office, even under the First Amendment.

It cites California Penal Code 409.7, which protects journalists’ right to cover protests. But the statute does not protect Gohill, the report states, because it applies to protests protected by the First Amendment involving police lines or rolling closures and “does not protect the right to break, enter, and/or trespass in a locked private building.”

The arrested individuals have a placeholder arraignment scheduled at Santa Clara county for August if they are charged by the district attorney’s office, according to a protester who chose to remain anonymous due to pending disciplinary action. 

The protester added that “the interim suspension left many protesters in the position of being “houseless, jobless, & with difficulty accessing medical care. That left a lot of people in a vulnerable situation and needing to rely on that broad community support.”

Sean Webby, communication’s director for the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, said the office has not received the cases for review.

The report also references a Letter from the Editors written by The Daily’s Volume 265 editor in chief, Kaushikee Nayudu ’24, and two executive editors, Emma Talley ’24 and Jessica Zhu ’24, on the day of the detainment. The letter defends Gohill’s right to be in the office as a member of the press. 

In response to the letter, the report states: “We would expect even a student journalist to understand that they had no right to be barricaded inside the president’s office.”

In a June 20 letter, the Student Press Law Center, the First Amendment Coalition and 24 other free speech and press organizations called on Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen to drop the charges against Gohill.

The letter states “it is difficult to see how charging Gohill with multiple felonies serves the interests of justice, especially because as a journalist reporting on breaking news he lacked the requisite intent for the crimes he is accused of committing.”

In a press release, Gohill’s lawyers admonished the University’s decision to charge him, citing similar reasons. 

“For a University renowned for churning out some of the brightest minds, Stanford leadership’s calls for the criminal prosecution of a young journalist covering a protest is decidedly dim witted,” Gohill’s attorney and spokesperson Max Szabo said.

Professional journalists have expressed concerns about the University’s actions. Bill Grueskin ’77, dean of academic affairs at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a former Wall Street Journal editor, said the University “needs to be very cautious about entering into a situation where they’re prosecuting a journalist who is at the scene of a newsworthy event doing his job.”

“Any time a journalist gets prosecuted while doing his or her duties, it increases the risk for journalists in this country and around the world,” Grueskin said.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the 13 individuals had been charged with the three felonies. This has been updated to reflect that the individuals were arrested on suspicion of those felonies but have not been charged and that DA’s office has not received the cases yet.

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Crossword: Escondido

One member of a Troubles-era Irish rock band? Housing practice that was KA's downfall?

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On the saddle: Stanford Equestrian shines without the spotlight

Vanessa Bartsch is helping to restore Stanford’s legacy of equestrian excellence, but she is also fighting to shed the sport’s history of exclusion.

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It’s a Friday in early March, near the end of a long season for Stanford’s equestrian team, and the Red Barn teems with activity. The noon sun beams down on Vanessa Bartsch ’99 as she exits a cherry-red structure which pre-dates the University. Holding a Tupperware container of homemade cookies, she announces that they were made from a new, candy bar-infused recipe. Several team members respond with excitement, though not surprise.  

Bartsch’s title is director and head coach, but her role extends beyond preparing student riders of widely varied experience levels and skill sets for a competitive season that begins in the fall and doesn’t end until spring. She is one of four full-time coaches responsible for about 35 student riders and as many horses. 

After she distributes the cookies, Bartsch stands in the middle of a shaded equestrian arena as one horse after another traverses a zigzagging sequence of jumps, each guided by a graceful rider atop its gleaming back. The coach offers corrections and encouragement in equal doses. She holds an iPhone in one hand to record video and a salad in the other.

“I haven’t eaten lunch in like four days. This is a revelation,” she says, joking.

As one group files out of the arena, another six riders are ready to enter. Bartsch schedules her practices based on the students’ style of riding, experience level and course schedule. 

The athletes range from seasoned youth champions to first-time competitors. The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA), the organization under which the team competes, is divided into classifications based on experience level. Riders from each skill level, split into divisions, contribute just as much to a winning team score. 

At Stanford, equestrian is a club sport, which means no athletic scholarships and none of the money-driven pressures and commercial influences that have made NCAA Division I sports less and less distinguishable from professional leagues. 

Still, Bartsch’s team cares about winning, and they have done their fair share of it in her 20 years as head coach. Inside the barn, the walls of her homey office are cluttered with trophies, medals and framed photos of former athletes. Among them are 2015 graduate Lucy Davis, who won a silver medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Despite its inability to recruit or offer scholarships like other colleges, under Bartsch’s leadership, the team has remained competitive against other IHSA schools. Stanford won third place overall at Nationals every year from 2017 to 2019, though it hasn’t finished in the top 10 since then. However, The team is particularly dominant on the West Coast. Stanford hosts the IHSA’s West Coast Zone competition and has won the competition for 17 years straight.

But coaching wasn’t Bartsch’s initial plan. Despite coming to the Farm as a student rider, she graduated from Stanford with a bachelor’s in music, working for a year at MTV, then at the San Francisco Opera. In 2004, Stanford retook direct control of the barn’s operations. Assistant Athletics Director Sherry Posthumus asked Bartsch to help propose a redirection of the barn for student use. The University approved, and alumni donor John Arrillaga ’60 provided funding to renovate the aging barns and expand and modernize its arenas. 

“We were having trouble hiring someone to come and run the program. So I said I’d come back for three months, and it’s been 20 years since we reopened,” Bartsch said. 

The Victorian Red Barn is the oldest structure on campus, dating to the late 19th century and campus’ pre-University days as Leland Stanford’s expansive trotting-horse-raising facility. Today, the team shares two barns with a total of 67 stalls and six arenas. 

While Bartsch is helping to restore Stanford’s legacy of equestrian excellence, she is also fighting to shed the sport’s history of exclusion.

Bartsch estimates that around half of the team are BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people of color). Some, like her, come from rural backgrounds in which riding was a way of life; others are indulging a longtime love of horses for the first time. 

Madeleine Kingsland ’24 is one of several Native American athletes on the team. “The barn has always been a place for me where I don’t have to worry about P-Sets being due, or the next test or what I should be doing,” she said. “It’s kind of just like a little two hour sanctuary time in my day.”

Each Stanford rider is also responsible for caring for the horses they ride, which isn’t the case at every barn. Ilaria Chen ’26 had never tacked up her own horse — preparing a horse for riding with equipment like a saddle — before coming to Stanford. Now, she both tacks up her own horse and, to work off her $500 team dues, regularly feeds the barn’s horses, too.

Bartsch said she prioritizes financial accessibility for riders. Team dues haven’t changed since she rode as a student, she said, and half of her riders are on financial aid. All of the team’s horses and most of its tack (supplies like saddles and brushes) are donated. The barn also brings in money by boarding horses and renting arena space to two riding academies. 

Though the $500 quarterly student dues are steep compared to other campus activities, the price is much lower than equivalent lesson time elsewhere, said the team’s co-president, Megan King.

Though Bartsch had endless praise for her athletes’ success, she insists that her focus is on providing a welcoming escape for students to connect with the people and animals around them. 

“I’ll find students who will bring their book and be sitting in a stall with the horse, lying down taking a nap, just because it’s where they feel calm and at peace,” she said.

Yet Chen is still surprised at Bartsch’s demeanor at Nationals, as the coach has opened up, telling the riders jokes and stories. Bartsch also cooked dinner for the team in their cabin every night, fostering a home-like atmosphere.

Coming into her first Nationals, her goal was a top-ten finish. 

As she steps into her track, she feels her horse’s frantic energy. Chen, who also performs on a hip-hop dance team on campus, has to channel her energy not just into her posture, but also into taming the horse’s wild energy. Through perseverance, she managed an excellent ride. 

Would she surpass her goal of not just a top ten finish, but a top five? Her coaches expected so after that ride. 

Chen finished eighth, receiving a bridle, a piece of tack she’ll share with the team. She is content. But her coaches are less so. 

“You were robbed!” she recalled the coaches saying, jokingly. Chen laughs at the memory.

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Crossword: School Spirit

A crossword created by Parker Ruth and Kimberly Ruth, who are currently computer science Ph.D. students. They earned undergraduate degrees at the University of Washington in Seattle. They are siblings, best friends and roommates.

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image of crossword; black squares make an S shape in the center
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A crossword created by Parker Ruth and Kimberly Ruth, who are currently computer science Ph.D. students. They earned undergraduate degrees at the University of Washington in Seattle. They are siblings, best friends and roommates.

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The Stanford Daily Magazine: Escondido

Welcome to The Stanford Daily's Vol. 265 Magazine: Escondido. The theme of Escondido, home to major campus landmarks and translating to “hidden” in Spanish, allows us to explore aspects of Stanford culture and history that are hidden in plain sight.

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The Stanford Daily

MAGAZINE

VOL. X • ISSUE I • June 25, 2024

Graphic: MHAR TENORIO / The Stanford Daily

INTRODUCTION

By Linda Liu and Greta Reich
Photo: CRYSTAL CHEN/The Stanford Daily

OPINIONS

By Mark Allen Cu
Graphic: DA-HEE KIM/The Stanford Daily
Graphic: DAN KUBOTA/The Stanford Daily

ARTS & LIFE

By Charlotte Cao and Adam Golomb
Photo courtesy of Weston Keller

ARTS & LIFE

By Cate Burtner
Graphic: DA-HEE KIM/The Stanford Daily

ARTS & LIFE

By Greta Reich
Photo courtesy of Dina Hashash
Graphic: DA-HEE KIM/The Stanford Daily

THE GRIND

By Kaylee Chan

THE GRIND

By Sam Catania, Emma Talley and Carolyn Stein
Graphic: DA-HEE KIM/The Stanford Daily

GAMES

By Bradley Bush
Graphic: MICHELLE FU / The Stanford Daily

GAMES

By Cameron Duran
Courtesy of The Stanford Daily Archives

Editor in Chief
Kaushikee Nayudu

Executive Editors
Emma Talley, Jessica Zhu

Magazine Editors
Linda Liu, Greta Reich

Photo & Graphics
Cayden Gu

Greta Reich

Oriana Riley

Da-Hee Kim

Anthony Martinez Rosales

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From the Editors | Introducing the ‘Escondido’ magazine

The theme of Escondido, home to major campus landmarks and translating to “hidden” in Spanish, allows us to explore aspects of Stanford culture and history that are hidden in plain sight.

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Soon, we will be sending the Class of 2024 off into the world. Starting next fall, most of the undergraduate student body will no longer have memories of pre-COVID campus life, remote Stanford classes or pandemic protocols. Many of us will be unaware of which traditions have been made and remade, and which did not stand the test of time.

What are aspects of the Stanford campus and community that are lesser known to students? This question guided our search for the theme of the Volume 265 magazine.

In good company with many of our peers, we first turned to ChatGPT. “Give me a two-word magazine theme that is a wordplay on a Stanford tradition or landmark,” we asked it. After getting a few unsatisfactory answers like “Cardinal Directions” and “Tree-ditions,” we abandoned artificial intelligence. The perfect theme dawned on us when we were looking at a campus map for inspiration: “Escondido.” 

Escondido is central to our experience on campus. It is the road that runs from Meyer Green to Stanford Avenue, bisecting East Campus and leaving its traces on many building names: EVGR, Escondido Elementary School. It is the road we all walk on our way to get Wilbur dinner specials. It is the site of plenty of bike accidents, cross-campus jogs and sand volleyball.

But its meaning extends beyond Stanford landmarks. Escondido translates to “hidden” in Spanish. It allows us to explore aspects of Stanford culture and history that are hidden in plain sight.

Some of the details we uncovered in this issue do center around physical spaces. Mark Allen Cu’s ’26 opinion piece calls on the University to rename Wilbur Hall in recognition of the fact that its namesake was a eugenicist. Amina Wase’s ’26 article highlights meaningful goings-on within the Stanford Law School: a conference on the present-day ramifications of the War on Terror and a student-initiated reading group on the legal doctrine that the war set into motion. Charlotte Cao ’27 and Adam Golomb ’27 give a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation that student band “The Move” put into opening for Frost Fest, following them around campus and to the annual music festival. 

Other hidden aspects that we unveiled were more cultural and metaphorical. Dan Kubota ’27 explores Japanese American students’ identities on campus from the 1940s to the present, delving into The Daily’s archives surrounding Japanese internment. Cate Burtner ’25 reveals how 1970’s literature students rebuilt a literary magazine from the ground up, pushing it to achieve international fame. One of us, Greta Reich ’26, narrates the journey of student band “Six of Spades” from jamming sessions to their first album release this summer. 

An original short story by Kaylee Chan ’27 flips the standard college narrative into a sci-fi thriller, adding new connotations to the term “imposter syndrome.” Cameron Duran ’24 and Bradley Bush ’27 take the meaning of hidden literally, embedding Stanford history and traditions into trivia games and mini-crosswords. We conclude with personal narratives from another group of students who are “hidden” from much of campus: graduating Daily staffers, two of whom were former editors in chief.

We sincerely hope that in each article, you uncover an aspect of Stanford that was previously unknown to you. If you’re graduating, we hope you take these stories with you as mementos as you venture into the world. If you’re a new student, we hope these stories introduce you to parts of this campus that is your new home. For everyone, we hope these stories show you just how much Stanford will continue to surprise you with its rich history and legacies. 

Linda Liu ’25 and Greta Reich ’26

Vol. 265 Magazine Editors

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Imposter syndrome

Sitting in her dorm with her look-alike, Isa could almost see her future before her: caught up on her work, no longer sleep-deprived, socializing with friends. In a word: happy. But that is not what the look-alike sees.

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In the dorm room, two girls sat cautiously apart on the bed. They were, at a moment’s glance, the spitting image of each other, but if one were to take a closer look they might have noticed that the one on the left looked a bit more frozen, a bit more perfect. She was something akin to a sculpture, but sculptures belonged on pedestals, while this one was, on a twin-sized bed, a bit less than human but close enough to touch.

The other girl did not touch. She fidgeted with her hands instead. They were calloused and laced with thin scars from these recent weeks of wringing together all her possessions into the shape of herself, which coalesced into the person before her.

She was too tired to be proud. The days before had been spent stealing disassembling computers for parts instead of going to class, all to fashion a robotic version of herself on which to unload her burdens.

Making doppelgängers was a family craft, according to her mother, who had, before her first wedding day, pasted together a replica of herself out of napkins and cutlery and broken plates she scrounged from the restaurant at which she worked. The drive to do so arrived by pure instinct. In crafting its heart — this, her mother had said, was the most important part — she put in her ring, her old school uniform, a crinkled rose. In order to create the resemblance, you had to sacrifice something of your own — but not too much. Her mother had never explained what “too much” was.

When the time came, her mother had left her twin at the wedding ceremony, wrapped her belongings in a towel sack, and fled. Her husband didn’t notice until he leaned in for the kiss and his lips came away with the bitter tang of blood. He had cut his lip on glass.

At that, the illusion of his wife fell apart — quite literally, as the careful balance of silverware and glass shards came crashing down on the other side of the altar. That was the catch: the doppelgängers never lasted long. But by that point, her mother was far gone.

Perhaps running away from one’s problems was also part of the generational package. The girl had naively thought she could do better. That’s why she made it to university — to do better. Instead of knowing in the art of table setting and balancing plates on one hand, technology was her area of expertise. What happened? She couldn’t do better. It ended up being too much. The work, the social pressures, the act of living in her body. Too much.

So she gathered all of it— report cards, love letters, childhood stuffed animals — and built a heart around it. Then a body around the heart. Then limbs around the body. The overwrought metal began to take the shape of her. But she was sure to make this new version better. Slightly thinner, slightly faster, equipped with the solving skills of a supercomputer. The more alive it looked, the more she felt she could absorb some of it for herself.

When it awoke, it stared blankly into her eyes, the two of them unmoving on the bed. She got up. The robot got up too, and for a moment she worried she had gotten the calculations wrong, that she had done nothing more than copied and pasted herself on a metal mold and was cursed to live in double for the rest of her life. The both of them failures, unable to exist within the bounds of who they were.

“You’re going to go to classes. There should be instructions in your system,” the girl told the robot. “It will just be for a few days at most, enough for me to get my work done.” 

The words hung in the air uncomfortably, the robot’s eyes perfect and calculating. The girl thought about her unread messages, her unsent emails, the patchwork of a Google Calendar that had been left fully ignored for the past few weeks. A second person was the solution. It had to be. The robot displayed no acknowledgement of this urgency, maintaining a subtly disinterested expression.

 “Please respond,” the girl all but whispered. “I need to know I made your vocal chords right.”

The robot leaned back, flexing its fingers as if to confirm they worked. “Sure,” it replied, before grabbing the keys from the girl’s hand. “I’ll get going now.” It sounded exactly like her, but smoother, less hesitant. The girl blanched at the sound of it.

It was two hours before classes began, but the robot took leave swiftly, as if staying even a second longer in the room it was created in would be agonizing. As the jangling of keys grew fainter and fainter, a pang of loneliness struck her. It’s what she asked for, she reminded herself. She just needed a bit of time to get better.

So the girl lied down on her bed and waited for the getting better to start.


Outside, the campus was alive, with bikers and pedestrians weaving through the road like ants. The robot put one foot in front of the other, following the straight lines of its commands as other people rushed about. Its internal programming put an outsized focus on places and assignments, lectures and readings — nothing about interacting with the people surrounding it, which it found a far more fascinating prospect. Was it a window into what the girl had prioritized in her past quarter here, or was she just hiding her social life from the robot on purpose? It couldn’t be sure, but it felt the need to do it all — to absorb a bit of livelihood from the students it was walking past.

It felt a tap on its shoulder and turned around, coming face to face with a familiar student around its height with a look of surprised recognition on her face. 

“Isa!” the student exclaimed. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!”

Yes. Isabelle. That’s the girl’s name. The robot reached into its reserves and pulled out a memory. One of Isa and Emmy together in the library. Isa was already treading water at that point, barely putting on the pretense of a put together human being. Emmy, on the other hand, was talking about her hangout with a group of people Isa didn’t know. She presumably had her work done or didn’t care — either state being wholly out of reach. Perhaps that was Isa’s breaking point — the robot could only guess. It needed to be friends with this girl, it decided just then. It had no rulebook for human interaction, but it did have a pumping heart of diary entries and high school polaroids. That would be enough.

It smiled. “I’m glad I ran into you, Emmy. How have you been?”


Isa was still collapsed on the bed when the robot arrived home that night. She lifted her head when her counterpart walked in, revealing watery eyes. Papers were strewn across her desk, still untouched. “I can’t do it,” she garbled. “But I thought I could. I really did.”

The robot felt sorry for her. Then again, it supposed it rather liked having Isa’s life. The robot was better at it too — it had succeeded in getting an invitation to an event in the span of an afternoon together.

“I’m going fountain hopping with friends. You should come,” Emmy had said casually. They were in Emmy’s room. The robot was worried she’d notice something was off about it, or ask it about Isa’s life. She didn’t. She talked a lot about her myriad of going-ons, and the robot listened. The invitation, therefore, was out of left field.

“You’ve never invited me to anything before,” the robot pointed out. Isa’s memories had nothing of the sort.

“Really?” The subtle undertone of disbelief in Emmy’s tone made the robot feel reassured, somehow. It had been forgotten, not disliked. “It’s just that you seem different now. Less distant.” Emmy smiled just then, a beautiful, knowing smile, and the robot felt a little singing in its heart that it supposed was what it felt like to be human.

It wanted to share this feeling with Isa, seeing her in that state. Maybe it would be a shared celebratory moment. “I’m going to go hang out with Emmy and her friends,” the robot said.

Isa sat up with alarming quickness. She looked dismayed. “You…”

Suddenly, Isa’s disheveled hair and trembling hands started coming into full focus. The sight of her seemed desperately pathetic, just then. Fading from the world, clinging onto a fading sense of personhood — it suddenly looked a little repulsive. As it turned around, Isa reached out. “Wait. Wait, no. Stay here. I’m going to go. I want to —”

“She wanted me,” her double said. Then it shut the door.


The robot approached the fountain in the middle of the roundabout as the moon shone overhead. The others were already there, Emmy and other girls like her, looking ethereal under the lamp lights. They were smiling and laughing at each other, with no incompetencies to hide and no secrets to keep.

“Join us!” Emmy exclaimed when she saw the robot approaching, before jumping into the pool like the rest of them. And there it was — that ideal now became an invitation, close enough to touch. The robot, Isa (she felt more deserving of the name now, all being said and done), was suddenly struck with the notion that perhaps it wasn’t so impossible for her to become something of a real girl. That what was buried deep inside her was more than the rot that created her, the rot that was now hiding alone in her room.

With her hope in mind, she stepped into the pool.

The water blanketed her ankles, before slipping into the gaps within her plating and rushed up her veins. It was exhilarating until her feet went numb. She didn’t so much as feel her knees buckle underneath her as much as she suddenly felt her body fall. Despite hearing faint cries of concern nearby, she plastered an imitation of their smiles on her face. Unburdened and unapologetic — that’s who the true Isa was. Even when her body was failing her.

A panel on the sole of her foot came loose. With her lower half gone, she slammed into the water. She hoped the others didn’t notice. It is hard to tell if they had, with the water clogging her head. Then again, if they noticed, it meant they cared, and that wouldn’t be bad at all. Maybe it was actually what she wanted all along. As she sank steadily downwards, she comforted herself with that image of who she thought she ought to be — someone worthy of being loved.

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Between the pages: Graduating staffers reflect on time at The Daily

Graduating Daily staffers Sam Catania '24, Emma Talley '24 and Carolyn Stein '24 reflect on time at The Stanford Daily.

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Sam Catania, Vol. 262-263 Editor in Chief

That The Daily can consistently put out a newsletter 5 days a week has always amazed me.

While editor in chief last year, I was acutely aware that there wasn’t a great reason why a bunch of 20-somethings should come together to write 20-40 articles a week. No one has to do it. Most staffers don’t intend to become journalists.

And yet.

I guess what sort of perplexed me was that many things at Stanford can feel self-serving. You take a class to try and find a mentor. You join a club to help you get into med school. You do research with a professor to try and get a job.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these types of motivations — I think they’re pretty rational. But I could never draw a clear throughline on why someone might contribute to The Daily. Or more directly, what The Daily might contribute back to them.

When I joined The Daily my freshman year, editors would commonly say, “The Daily is not The New York Times.” Originally, I thought this was a self-own. We’d never be as good as The New York Times; our standards were lower; we were bad reporters, etc.

Over time, I realized two things. First, these insults don’t have to be true; we can do good work if we set our minds to it. Second, the saying wasn’t really meant to be an insult in the first place. Rather, its purpose was to state something obvious: The Daily is different from The New York Times.

While The New York Times is entirely a workplace, The Daily falls somewhere in between a workplace and a club. It’s an incorporated California nonprofit with a board of directors, tax returns, payroll, accountants and a lease. But it’s also a group of friends.

While The New York Times publishes to readers the world over, The Daily is fully ingrained within the community about which it writes. As I stated in my reflection on The Daily’s 50th year of independence, this puts us closer to the stories we tell, but it also means there is additional pressure to do a great job telling them.

While The New York Times is expected to send reporters into war zones, trailing the cars of celebrities and throughout the halls of the White House, The Daily got flamed on Fizz last fall when I made the call to send a few reporters into Crothers after a man pretended to be a Stanford student and lived there for months. (For what it’s worth, had I known we would get royally roasted online, I 100% still would’ve sent still would’ve sent those reporters into Crothers. It was a very important story and we urgently needed to talk to sources!)

Because The Daily isn’t the same as a national newsroom but also isn’t exactly a club, its value is different for everyone who enters. You might improve your writing. You may come out a better leader. Hopefully, you’ll make some friends. You’ll definitely eat a lot of Treehouse pizza.Regardless, I think these unclear and nonprescribed driving motivations are what make The Daily special. Unlike so many things one could do on Stanford’s campus, it is truly much more of a ‘choose your own adventure’ than a pre-charted course with a fixed destination.

The Daily is not The New York Times. But it might be the adventure you’re looking for.

***

Emma Talley, Vol. 261 Editor in Chief

The Stanford Daily is lucky enough to have its own building on campus, affectionately referred to as “the house.” Oftentimes, before COVID-19 sent us all to different corners of the world, we talked about making the house feel like a home. I am incredibly privileged and grateful to have been able to call The Daily house my home for the past five years. 

I wandered into the house as an 18-year-old frosh with absolutely no interest in journalism. Unlike many of my co-staffers, I had not written for my high school newspaper, or really written much at all. It was on the lush lawns outside the house, as journalism professors R.B. Brenner and Janine Zacharia screamed reporting fundamentals at several hundred new Daily recruits and myself, that I fell in love. I was shy. Really shy. Talking on the phone literally gave me panic attacks. But reporting forced me to talk to people, to get to know them and to overcome this huge mental barrier because I was doing something more important than my fear — telling stories. 

It’s fun sometimes to think about my first stories. While covering a city council meeting for Janine’s introduction to reporting class as a frosh, I remember my body trembling as I approached city council members. Since then, I have covered wildfires, visited evacuation camps, accompanied a kindergartner to his first day of in-person learning, and even asked the California Governor some very pointed questions. My time at The Daily has molded me into the person I have become. 

At the start of the pandemic, when my parents haphazardly collected me from my frosh dorm with a car full of toilet paper, canned goods and peanut butter, The Daily remained a constant. As distance-learning droned on, the friends I made at The Daily became my community. Then I made the completely out-of-character decision to take a leave of absence to pursue journalism. The Daily funded my first real job at The San Francisco Chronicle. When campus finally re-opened, The Daily welcomed me back with open arms. Serving as editor in chief of The Daily during my sophomore year was the opportunity of a lifetime. I have met some of my very best friends and closest confidants while sitting in half-broken office chairs around an uneven wooden table and cold pizza. 

As I graduate college, The Daily still cannot get rid of me. I will be returning next year in a full time position as Chief Operating Officer, managing the business side of Daily operations. A proud alum once told me, “The Stanford Daily is an institution.” And in many ways it is. It has served as the organ of our university long before I ever walked through the doors, and it will continue to serve the community with hard-hitting, effective and fair student-led journalism long after I leave. Yet, as alumni, students and journalists, The Daily will always be a place we can call home.

***

Carolyn Stein, Vol. 263 Magazine Editor

Few things consistently keep me up at night: life after graduation, the direction of U.S. foreign policy and correction lines in my stories. 

On more than a few occasions, I’ve sent my editors Slack messages at ungodly hours about things no sane person would ever think about. ‘Cause even after I went back through my interview transcripts, made sure all quotes were properly contextualized, triple-checked spellings of names, re-worded the same sentence five times, I always think of something that jolts me awake before my head hits the pillow.

“Was it the 15th or the 50th annual lecture?”

“Did I get all the statistics right?” 

“Did that person say they were a faculty or a staff member, and did I get it right in the story?”

Sometimes, these last-minute panic attacks save me from the dreaded correction, followed by the line: The Daily regrets this error – a phrase so infamous within the organization that for a while we were selling mugs with the phrase on it.

But more often than not, it’s always the things I don’t think about that result in the correction line. 

The date was wrong.

They’re a representative of the house, not a member of congress.

That local Bay Area animal shelter is not the Humane Society, just Humane.

To the average reader, some of these correction lines aren’t a big deal. To me, they’ve always felt like someone put a dagger through my heart then removed it and that someone was me because I’m the one who messed up. I’m the reporter whose latest article now has a correction line. I hurt my own credibility. And The Daily’s credibility. And the credibility of journalists everywhere. And the whole world saw it. 

The Daily regrets this error.

But even after every correction line, one thing remains the same: life goes on. And you’re still a reporter. And The Daily hasn’t fallen. And journalists are still doing their jobs despite low trust in media organizations. And it probably wasn’t that many people who saw you mess up. And those that did probably forgot about it within five seconds. 

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m somewhat of a perfectionist. Well, that’s kind of true. Journalists in general are obsessive about correction lines because we know the gravity that even the smallest correction line can have. One of my journalism professors used to say “If you got one thing wrong in your article, then what else did you get wrong?” 

But the truth is I’m also a recovering perfectionist. Like many incoming frosh, I arrived at Stanford thinking I needed to be the best at everything. I had to be perfect on paper to get in here, and I felt like I had to keep that energy going. Errors were not an option.

But at The Daily, especially in my first few years, I was anything but perfect. My first article, which was a co-byline with two more experienced reporters, had multiple correction lines. I’ve had sources yell at me over the phone post-publication. I’ve missed important details while editing articles. After all of these occasions, I panicked and thought the world was going to end. The mug that said The Daily regrets this error, though a favorite among my parents, felt like it was rubbing salt in the wound every time I saw it.

Luckily, the world never ended after any mistake I made (and my god was I dramatic for thinking it would). If anything, all of my mess-ups at The Daily only made me a better reporter. 

Next time, I was going to triple-check all the dates. 

Next time, I was going to make sure I got that person’s title right.

Next time, I would make sure to know the difference between the Humane Society and Humane. 

And if there’s anything else I’ve learned, it’s that your mess-ups, no matter how small or big they feel, do not define you for the rest of your life. There are always opportunities to bounce back. Every correction line I got gave me fuel to go back out and find another story. And I’m grateful for The Daily for providing me a space to fail, try again and learn to live with my mistakes. 

And I’m especially grateful that I have a mug to remind me that all those times I messed up in my stories, the world didn’t end. 

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On being a banana: Japanese American students on the Farm, 1940 to the present

Dan Kubota delves into Daily archives and traces the history of Japanese American students' search for identity on campus, from the World War II era to the current day.

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I’ve never been particularly fond of the mushy, soft texture of bananas, or the way I’ve been associated with them as an Asian American: looking “yellow” on the outside but being white-washed internally. 

Despite having a Japanese last name, I feel very far removed from Japanese culture as a fourth-generation Japanese American, or yonsei (you can also count me as fifth-generation, depending on which side of my family you are looking at). I have always been learning about my heritage through textbooks. So when I came to Stanford, I joined the Nikkei Student Union (NSU).

With Nikkei referring to the Japanese diaspora, NSU aims to “provide a space for students to explore Nikkei and Japanese identity and build community.” The union has undergone numerous transformations since its founding in 1902 as the Japanese Student Association (JSA), according to NSU member Zack Edwards ’24.

The group changed its name from Stanford University Nikkei to Japanese Student Union in 2013, Edwards said. This April, club members — myself included — voted to change the club’s name from Japanese Student Union (JSU) to Nikkei Student Union. We thought the term “nikkei,” a more inclusive one, better reflected the diversity of the diaspora, whom the organization should aim to serve.

JSA had a turbulent history. The organization discontinued during the 1940s when Japanese American students were incarcerated in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack. A May 26, 1942 article titled “Farm Japanese To Leave Today” announced their departure from campus and JSA’s closure. The final wave of Japanese students to leave were “last quarter seniors who have managed to hold out until the last to get their diplomas.” Reading the article, I was heartbroken.

What was even more striking to me was an advertisement for U.S. war bonds that appeared on the same page. The ad took up almost a quarter of the newspaper page, while the article announcing Japanese students’ departure was merely allocated four paragraphs in the corner. 

As Japanese American students left campus, what was formerly Japanese Students’ House was leased to a co-op in 1942. I was surprised that the article describing the lease was extremely brief, consisting of only three paragraphs and incorporated only one student’s voice.

In fact, Japanese American students barely voiced themselves at all in The Daily during this period. One of the only instances was a letter that JSA addressed to Ray Wilbur, then-president of Stanford, published under a section titled “Campus Opinion.” The letter captured Japanese American students’ reactions to the events leading up to Executive Order 9066 and Japanese incarceration. In the letter, JSA “pledg[ed] our full support in the present emergency.”

“As American citizens of Japanese ancestry, we have been prepared to assume and discharge our duties and responsibilities which have been placed upon us,” the students wrote. “Yet little did we dream that we would be called upon to prove our loyalty under the circumstances in which we now find ourselves.” 

It was one thing to read about the period in history books; it was another to feel how Japanese American students feared and despaired on this very campus, torn between their homeland and that of their ancestors.

Today, Japanese students on campus no longer face the horrors of detainment. But many of us are still grappling with its effects. As such, spaces on campus like NSU and Okada House — the Asian American theme house — serve as places to connect with our identity and unpack our varied histories.  

Edwards has lived in Okada since his junior year and has been a member of JSU on and off since entering Stanford, yet he felt that Japanese Americans and Nikkei did not have many campus spaces for themselves. With programming such as culture presentations and movie nights, JSU seemed to be serving students who were interested in Japanese culture from an outside perspective.

Similarly, Kaelan James ’26, incoming NSU financial officer, “straight up did not feel welcome in the club” when they joined last year. Having both Japanese and Peruvian descent, James desired a space to learn about their Japanese heritage.

Edwards turned his thoughts into action when he organized an event on Feb. 19, also known as the Day of Remembrance. This was the very day Executive Order 9066, which legalized detainment, was signed into law in 1942. A panel of students spoke on the way that their families have been impacted by the incarceration. Those with loved ones who had been incarcerated were invited to place a candle by the names of internment camps. James, a member of Stanford Taiko, brought the group in for a performance.

Edwards’s event was one of the first to reach beyond NSU club members and engage students in a manner different from traditional club meetings. This paved the way for more events that allowed members to reflect on Japanese American history, like Golden Week and a trip to San Jose’s Japantown.

Eventually, Edwards also wants to create a space on campus for Indigenous Japanese students, like those of Okinawan heritage. Many view Japan as a monoethnic nation and “don’t understand the colonization of Okinawa and how very violent and terrible” it was, he said. 

Okinawans, originating from the island of Okinawa, are the largest ethnolinguistic minority group in Japan. During World War II, Okinawa became a U.S. territory and essentially a military outpost. Homes and villages were destroyed to “make space for military bases and hold weapons,” and the territories were only returned to Japan recently.

Edwards’s vision is far from being achieved, but NSU taking on the name of “nikkei” is a crucial first step to encouraging reflection on the diversity of Japanese communities. 

From the start, NSU has been a safe space for me to explore what it means to be Japanese American. Listening to guest speakers talking about what the Nikkei diaspora means and attending Japantown field trips, I gained new insights on my heritage beyond the brief summary I was presented with in high school history class. Moreover, club members created a welcoming environment in which even I, being half-Japanese and not at all proficient in the language, feel comfortable learning more about my culture and voicing my experiences.

I envision my relationship with my heritage will be changing like a banana, ripening with time into something new and exciting. There is no one way to be Japanese. Being Japanese American is a process of wrestling with our complex identity and coming to terms with dark episodes of Japanese American history. It’s also allowing ourselves to be open to new information and new possibilities.

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Cu | Stanford should rename Wilbur Hall

Former Stanford president Ray Lyman Wilbur actively supported eugenics, fearing the expansion of ethnic minorities in the United States. Now, his name is plastered on the dorm that features AAPI students. This has to change, Mark Allen Cu writes.

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Last year, I was a resident of Wilbur Hall under Otero, the four-class public service & civic engagement themed dorm. Throughout my time at Otero, we were constantly reminded of our privilege as Stanford students and the various ways that our institution has contributed to oppression and inequality both locally and worldwide. I was encouraged to think critically about how to create more inclusive and representative spaces with Lulu Miller’s book “Why Fish Don’t Exist,” which was included in my class’s annual Three Books program. As a frosh, I never knew that the namesake of my dormitory complex had a similar history to the same eugenicist that this institution actively distanced itself from.

Ray Lynman Wilbur — who graduated from Stanford in 1896, got his M.A. in 1897 and served as Stanford’s president from 1916-1943 — was a eugenicist who feared the expansion of various ethnic groups in the United States, including Asian immigrants.

Who exactly was Ray Lyman Wilbur? A lifelong friend of Herbert Hoover, a politician in his own right and the University’s longest serving president, Stanford Magazine referred to Wilbur as “the doctor-president who made Stanford better” in 2016. The Iowa-native also served as the U.S. secretary of the interior and is cited with changing the department’s logo from an eagle to a bison. Wilbur’s reputation included his public health advocacy — an interest that led him to support the eugenics movement and eugenics education at Stanford and across the country. Specifically, he chaired a study that strongly discouraged interracial marriages and reproduction for Asian immigrants, worried that the Chinese population would overtake the white one.

Mirroring the removal of David Starr Jordan from University campus spaces for his leadership in the American eugenics movement, I am calling on Stanford to do the same for Ray Lynman Wilbur. 

Wilbur hall was built in the 1940s to honor the former University president. Located at 658 Escondido Rd, the originally male-only student dormitory provides housing for over 700 students and related community members. Some notable figures who lived at Wilbur include former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer ’59, actress and producer Reese Witherspoon and Chelsea Clinton, whose arrival in 1997 caused a media frenzy on campus. Today, Wilbur is home to several frosh, upperclass and University theme houses as a part of the Sequoia and Hyperion neighborhoods. In the 2024-2025 academic year, Sequoia will represent the entirety of the undergraduate dormitory complex. 

Among Wilbur’s eight different houses is Okada, the Asian American theme house established in 1971. Originally named Madera, the dormitory was renamed to honor Asian American novelist John Okada after it adopted the ethnic theme. The dorm is used by both residents and non-residents as a historic Asian and Asian American cultural center, a shared space to organize political action and a venue to host various student-centered events.

Wilbur Hall is not only home to student housing, but also one of campus’s most popular dining halls. From pho to honey black pepper beef, Wilbur gives students the opportunity to enjoy various Asian cuisines. Stanford’s Lunar New Year Dinner Celebration was also held at Wilbur earlier this academic year.

It is undeniable that Wilbur’s life accomplishments are numerous and far-reaching; however, Stanford’s idolization of him does not discount his involvement with one of the most harmful scientific movements in American history. As a Pilipino American student who enjoys the Asian culture that Wilbur Hall has historically facilitated, it troubles me that the University has continued to honor a eugenicist who did not see the value in Asian communities in the United States. 

Last May, I was shocked to hear that my dining hall, Wilbur, was serving ube ice cream. There was a time when I had to explain what this pretty purple yam was to every non-Pilipinx person I met, but ube has surprisingly emerged in popular American culture. These small moments of representation, whether it be in the dining hall or the classroom, make me feel more welcomed at this institution. However, I find it ironic that the namesake of said dining hall would have likely never welcomed students like me into this university. 

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Law students reflect on legacies of War on Terror

Amid the Israel-Gaza war, Stanford Law students organize a conference and reading group focusing on legal doctrines that continuously affect Muslim communities.

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In the wake of student protests surrounding the Israel-Gaza war, students and faculty at Stanford Law School (SLS) have launched a series of initiatives regarding the War on Terror and its connections to present-day Gaza. 

On April 27, SLS held its annual Shaking the Foundations conference, which included a panel on the War on Terror’s harms, as well as a keynote address by a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp. Shafeen Pittal J.D. ’24 also initiated a War on Terror Reading Group involving professors and approximately 20 students. 

Panel discussion on the War on Terror

The national security apparatus created by the War on Terror had significant ramifications for the modern condition of Palestine, said three lawyers at the conference’s panel discussion “How Did We Get Here? The War on Terror: Past and Current Harms.” 

Wadie Said, professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, analyzed the War on Terror’s ramifications from a criminal law perspective. In the pre-9/11 world, he said, acts of terrorism were addressed similarly to other criminal acts, without racial profiling or the use of secret evidence. After the War on Terror, however, Said said those principles were abandoned.

“What happens when you declare a war?” Said asked. “The use of some powers on immigration enforcement [now] also affects the national security realm.” 

Said pointed to the intensifying use of informants and racial profiling under the guise of national security. Arab, Muslim and Palestinian communities were disproportionately targeted and stigmatized. 

Zoha Khalili, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal, explained that the United States’ designation of some groups as “terrorists” often contributes to human rights violations and hinders peaceful, progressive social movements. 

“The terrorism label allows you to designate a certain set of actions that can be so far down the field that you don’t really need to think about standard principles, you don’t really need to think about humanity but you also don’t need to think about proportionality,” said Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) San Francisco Bay Area. These actions include torture and ethnic detention, starvation and the destruction of hospitals and schools, Billoo added.

Law enforcement seems to treat Muslims and Arabs as “terrorists until proven innocent,” Billoo said. Billoo shared the story of Yasser Affifi, a young Muslim tracked by the FBI without a warrant. CAIR helped secure a Supreme Court victory affirming that the practice violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

Billoo called future lawyers in the audience to action. They are the “legal arm of the movement” and have the power to protect those who are peacefully protesting, she said.

Students initiate a War on Terror reading group

Pittal created the “Interrogating the War on Terror” reading group in April to raise awareness on the present-day legacies of the war. The group has since held three reading sessions led by SLS professors. She emphasizes that both the Shaking the Foundations Conference and her reading group reflect on how national policies discriminate against various Muslim communities.

“The point of the reading group really was to raise awareness about [the ramifications of the War on Terror] and start thinking about our roles as law students in remedying not only the victims of the War on Terror, but also the apparatus and legal doctrine that allowed it to happen,” Pittal said.

Participant Lauren Courtney J.D. ’25 saw the reading group as a unique opportunity to discuss social justice with law professors in small group settings. 

“It is a perfect combination of both scholarly discussion of how academics have thought about these issues and conceptualize them in the legal context, but also lived human experiences and the real world consequences that the law has had,” Courtney said of the reading group.

Both Pittal and Courtney attended the Shaking the Foundations conference and said it expanded what they learned in reading sessions. For Courtney, the conference showcased the harm that many lawyers did in the post 9/11 landscape, but also reminded her that lawyers have the capacity to be change agents for good.

The reading group provided a different perspective than how SLS classes discuss the War on Terror. Through the group’s sessions, Courtney realized that law school classes should more thoroughly flesh out the consequences of legal scenarios involving the war, instead of mentioning them only in a footnote.

Courtney plans to be a public defender after graduation. The reading group reminded her of her responsibility to understand how the law can be distorted as she serves her clients. 

For Pittal, the hardest part of her law school experience was realizing that many innocent victims are still living the consequences of the War on Terror over 20 years later, while public attention has been taken by more recent legal issues. 

“Who are going to be the people that will care about those who have become invisible now?” Pittal said. “We’ve just moved on as the legal community without really confronting what happened.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the reading group. The Daily regrets this error.

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How well do you know Stanford history?

Test your Stanford history knowledge with this online quiz.

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  1. Bowling alley. The space was converted into a computer facility in the ’80s.
  2. Fleet Street. In 2021, the historically all-male group became all-gender.
  3. Katie Ledecky. Jenny Thompson has eight, and Janet Evans has four.
  4. Against. The court held that Palo Alto police did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they performed a warranted search on The Daily’s office for pictures of a recent protest.
  5. Instagram. But both Coursera and OkCupid have Stanford alums among their founders!
How well do you know Stanford history?
1925
3. GSB
The Graduate School of Business (GSB) is founded.
1925
How well do you know Stanford history?
How well do you know Stanford history?
1968
1. CoHo
The Coffee House (CoHo) opens as a small, student-run café in Tresidder Student Union.
1968
How well do you know Stanford history?
Stanford's Gates Computer Science Building
1969
5. CS106
CS106 is offered for the first time.
1969
Stanford's Gates Computer Science Building
A man with a large green tree costume and a balloon that says "Stanford"
1975
4. First tree
Christine "Chris" Hutson '76 M.S. '77 degbuts as the first Stanford tree at a game at USC.
1975
A man with a large green tree costume and a balloon that says "Stanford"
A man sits on a couch while dapping up another man
2007
2. Issa Rae
Issa Rae releases the first episode of her YouTube series "Dorm Diaries," filmed on campus.
2007
A man sits on a couch while dapping up another man

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The Six of Spades are all in

The band may have got their start in a small practice room, but they are aiming big. Their second original song will be released early this summer, followed by an entirely original album. What are they up to behind the scenes and on stage?

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The musicians had been trying to find a time to rehearse for the past couple days. It was Family Weekend 2023, and along with problem sets and readings to plow through, many of them had parents and relatives to schedule around too. But all were determined to make it work, even if that meant gathering on a rainy Sunday in late February.

Six of Spades was scheduled to play its first ever show within two weeks. These six frosh, who weren’t a band a month earlier, and who had rehearsed together just once before, were ready to get down to business.

In due time, that is. 

Hey got a late start this morning, Kai Charp ’26 texted his new bandmates at 11:46 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26. Gotta bring over all my equipment – does anyone know what I need to bring? I have a keyboard/amp and mics

Yeah if you wanna bring the keyboard bring it otherwise theres a piano, replied Ty Hosein ’26, the lead singer. 

Emiyare Ikwut-Ukwa ’26, their bassist, said that he was running late: Just woke up. Btw i will be late

Kai seconded: yeah gunna be late too we got an extra hour tho so should be good

Yeah no worries im gonna go down and eat lunch if thats the case and we can start in half hourish, Ty responded.

Drummer Sid Yu ’26 announced that he too was behind schedule: I’m gonna be late as well 🙂

Kai, the band’s pianist, walked into Braun Music Hall around 1 p.m. lugging an amplifier. Jules Jackson ’26, the guitarist, carried an electric guitar he had borrowed from a friend. They greeted Ty, who was already there setting up equipment, and were soon joined by Sid, Emiyare and trombone player Andrew Zhang ’26. 

The band spent the next four hours going over Kai’s arrangements of cover songs: Mark Ronson’s “Valerie,” Daniel Caesar’s “Best Part” and more. But mostly they hung out, getting to know each other’s sense of humor as much as each other’s style of music. Practice ended with a 10-minute rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” extended with multiple solos and improvisations by each member. 

Other than Jules and Ty, all are trained in jazz, which helped create the jazz-pop fusion sound they are now known for. But other factors were not in their favor: prior to their debut show at CoHo, Ty had performed live only once. And of the six, none entered Stanford with the intention of pursuing music, at least not on the performing side. 

The band got its start on a text chain. Just before 11 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2023, Kai sent out this proposition: Hey guys — thinking of starting a cover band! We could gig around campus and play parties (maybe open for some bigger musicians if we get in touch w the concert network). It would be covers of tunes and some originals! All really fun stuff. You down?

A string of yesses appeared quickly. Many of the members already knew each other, or knew of each other, and playing as a unit came quickly. Kai and Ty decided on the band’s name before their first practice, and Ty even sketched out what their logo would be: a figure 6 inside of a spade shape. 

Five of the members of Six of Spades pose for photo onstage at CoHo, holding up a spade symbol.
Five members of Six of Spades pose for a photo during their first ever set at CoHo. (Photo courtesy of Six of Spades)

Between their first gig — with a setlist of jazz-inspired covers of older pop songs — and now, Six of Spades has made huge strides. This summer, the band plans to independently release a 7-track album of original songs, all co-written by Kai and Ty. They released their first original single, “Take!,” in early November 2023, followed by a cover of Daniel Caesar’s “Best Part” in early March this year. 

Both releases helped expand their brand and popularity, but it was their social media presence that made them take off. At the end of fall quarter 2023, their Instagram account had 10,000 followers; it now has over 75,000. Their social media popularity led Indify, a platform that connects investors to independent artists, to reach out. 

Indify uses proprietary data to identify potential talent in need of financial and marketing support. They are known for being among the first to feature Khalid, Billie Eilish and Post Malone when they were upcoming artists. The platform collects a certain percentage of the money that the artists make off of streams until they break even, at which point the rest of the money goes directly to the artist. 

“It was pretty wild, especially when we realized that the platform was exclusive, like you can’t reach out to them, so you really have to be discovered by these people,” Ty recalled. “It just felt good to be recognized.”

ON STAGE

Today, with dozens of performances behind him, Ty has developed into a natural front man. He begins every show by hyping up the crowd, yelling for friends and fans to get on their feet and rush to the front of the stage. He is often dressed in a tank top and loose fitting jeans, comfortable but classy. 

This style is reflected throughout each of the band members: solid colors with a pop of color here and there that draws the eye whenever the focus is on them. Each has their own flare too though: Emiyare likes to match colors, wearing the same shade jacket and shoes. Jules is more “hippy,” Kai said, with funky graphic-tees and colorful pants. 

Kai describes their performance style as very genuine, representing each person as they are in real life. On stage, he is usually set up at his keyboard on the far left or right, rarely not smiling. Whenever a bandmate solos, his face takes on a “can-you-believe-this?” expression. 

They most recently performed at “Spade Rave,” an annual event they organize for Admitted Students Weekend in April. This year, they invited Peach Fuzz and The Move, two other student bands, to join them in entertaining prospective frosh (ProFros). 

Six of Spades arrived at Casper Quad around 3 p.m. on the day of the event, even though they weren’t scheduled to perform until 11 p.m. (though in classic Spade timing, they went on late). 

But where else would they want to be on a Friday afternoon? The band is as much a social group as it is a musical undertaking, and setting up the event basically consisted of hanging out and playing music with friends. It was one of the first warm afternoons of spring quarter and many passer-bys lingered to listen to parts of a song that was being rehearsed.

Members of the other bands were there too, and before long it became a musical mash-up — the musicians even swapped instruments, which came naturally to Six of Spades members as each member can pretty much play every other instrument in the band. 

Members from Six of Spades, Peach Fuzz and The Move set up for Spade Rave in Casper Quad.
Members from Six of Spades, Peach Fuzz and The Move set up for Spade Rave in Casper Quad. (Photo: GRETA REICH/The Stanford Daily)

At one point, Ty sang “Just The Two Of Us” by Bill Withers and Grover Washington with the pianist from The Move, Haohan Wu ’27, and Emiyare on bass, while the lead singer of Peach Fuzz, Tamish Pulappadi ’26, was live mixing.

“Wait, wait, wait — make it reggae,” Ty said with a curious expression on his face. Without a hesitation, the beat got groovier, each person moving to the new rhythm. 

Then Tamish took the microphone and Ty switched to playing the piano, practicing Bill Withers’s “Lean on Me.” Members who weren’t playing were setting up lights and sticking six of spades cards to trees and poles around the quad. (Each Spade member also carries a six of spades card in the back of their phone case.)

This collaboration between bands is something the Spades tries to foster. During spring quarter, along with other bands, they took part in the creation of a voluntary student organization (VSO) with the goal of giving student bands more power in requesting compensation for performing.

They demonstrated this band solidarity at Crochella, which they headlined just five days before Spade Rave. Near the end of their set, Ty invited each of the nine bands who had played before them to join the Spades on stage to sing “Yellow” by Coldplay. As the song was ending, he yelled to the crowd, “Musicians deserve pay and recognition!” 

Spade Rave wasn’t organized for financial reasons though, as Ty was sure to mention. It was more of an excuse to perform and to show ProFros what fun at Stanford could look like. 

And as far as anyone watching could tell, the ProFros had fun. By the time Six of Spades closed the set, there were over 100 audience members, many wearing glow sticks on their heads and wrists, bouncing along to the songs. 

At the end of their set, many ProFros came up to the bands to take pictures and follow them on Instagram. Some even asked Six of Spades for autographs. 

ProFros gather around Casper Quad as Six of Spades perform at Spade Rave.
ProFros gather around Casper Quad as Six of Spades performs at Spade Rave. (Photo: GRETA REICH/The Stanford Daily)

ON THE ALBUM

During each performance, Six of Spades performs one or two of their original unreleased songs from the album. While the crowd favorites tend to be the cover songs that they know all the words to, the band wants to generate excitement for their album with the original songs. 

Ray Obiedo is producing the album. He is a friend of Kai’s piano teacher from Berkeley — where Kai grew up — and a well-known producer who has worked with West Coast jazz giants like Herbie Hancock and Tower of Power. 

In contrast to many of the band’s cover songs, the album is a bit more soul-folk than jazz-pop, taking inspiration from Bob Dylan’s style of songwriting. Rather than classic love songs, Ty described this album as “songs about love in different ways,” speaking to both romance and generational issues.

Putting together an album requires more work than the six members have the capacity for though, so at the beginning of spring quarter, they recruited some of their friends to help out with the business-end of things. 

And it’s clear that they could use some gentle pushing from someone outside of the band to manage their time. At a rehearsal scheduled for 9 p.m. in Braun on a Thursday night in early May, the band did not step foot into their practice room until about 10:15. They didn’t start playing music until 11:30.

Ty had arrived late because a meeting for another club ran over. Kai was in the building but was practicing piano on his own. The others had a variety of class assignments to focus on too — their majors range from human biology to business to computer science (because it wouldn’t be a Stanford band without at least one of those).

Once they were all at Braun — minus Emiyare who was camping with friends — they settled in a tiny practice room on the second floor of Braun Music Hall. Bright fluorescent lighting and the very close quarters made the room slightly too warm for comfort. 

Kai sat at the piano, Sid behind the drums, Ty on top of a speaker, Jules and Andrew held their instruments on chairs and Dina Hashash ’26 — a friend who helps with their photography and social media — on a high top placed precariously in front of the door.

“This is just something that’s so integral to my well-being at this point that it’s not a sacrifice, it’s just something that I do sometimes instead of school,” Ty said from his perch, referring to how he balances commitment to the band with academics. 

The others nodded in agreement and Sid jumped in.

“What makes it special is that this type of band is really unique to, like, any college. It’s not just unique to Stanford, it’s unique to any college band. We’re trying to have an album, trying to get into the music industry,” he said. “I didn’t do the research, but I feel like that’s kind of rare.”

“You didn’t?” Ty responded in a mockingly incredulous tone. 

“We’re doing it because it’s what we want to do,” Andrew added. “Because we’re pursuing a passion and people here see that and they’re also really fucking cracked at whatever they’re doing, so they’re willing to help us in whatever way they can.” 

“I mean like, we have fucking Dina,” he said to more head nods and agreement in the room. “She’s so insane. She films shows for Netflix.”

Dina, a friend of Ty’s and photographer for Six of Spades since their inception, is a sophomore studying computer science. She has worked with Netflix as a computer graphics generalist and research intern. 

She works with Kai’s girlfriend, Vivien He ’26, to edit social media videos. 

This year, they enlisted three more people: Ty’s girlfriend, Miranda Johnson ’26, and two mutual friends, Lily Kerner ’26 and Claire Dean ’26.

The purpose of that rehearsal was partially to go over new management. 

“I think it’s very important that we respect the people that we’re gonna be working with,” Ty said to the room about an hour in. 

“It’s important to kind of have a relationship with all of them that’s kind of, you know, ‘Even though I’m friends with you, I will not fuck with your deadline, I will not fuck with this time that I need to be at this certain thing,’ he said. “Because they’re gonna be serious, especially Lily. Lily’s intense, and that’s just kind of in her nature.”

At that line, noises of agreement resounded in the room. Dina smiled a bit and jumped in. 

“Along those lines, everything that we do is not to overstep, obviously not to attack anything personal,” she said, perking up in her chair. “It’s just purely, like, we’re speaking in the interest of having you guys do the best that you can in the market. And then you guys speak up for yourselves as well and we won’t take it personally either. We just wanna build the understanding from the beginning that no one has any animosity toward one another.”

“No, no, the way that Claire was talking about me earlier…” Jules interrupted, with laughter from all of the members. “She was out to get me.” 

They continued working through various agenda items like potential social media posts and songs they needed to practice. They also talked about love lives and professors, occasionally playing an instrument idly.

“Forewarning, I am forcing you guys to do a fit check,” Dina said, bringing the conversation back to business.

Immediately someone said, “No.”

“Yes,” Dina responded. 

“Like, clothes?” someone else clarified, making the others crack up. 

“No, like a physique-check,” Ty joked, striking poses to exemplify. 

“Just be aware of that, I will also text you guys tomorrow morning as a reminder, but be fitted!” Dina said. 

“Actually, there’s something Vivien has always wanted me to say… try to wear colorful clothes, if you can,” Kai jumped in.

“Not part of my palette,” Andrew said. He was wearing a neutral brown shirt and gray pants.

“Or at least a fit that has some kind of dynamism to it, because when she’s color grading, things get really flat really fast, especially if we’re wearing these, like, grays and blues,” Kai continued, pointing to Ty’s outfit of dark blue and black. The only thing that gave his outfit a bit of a sparkle was the necklace with a spade on it, which each member of the band had.

Ty looked hurt. “That was really cold when you pointed at me! Put that in the article!”

ON WHAT’S NEXT

Stanford is not known for producing popular musicians. Tech tycoons and business billionaires, sure, but rock stars? The one who comes to mind is Sameer Gadhia, lead singer of Young the Giant, who dropped out in 2004. 

Sid can also name Chris Beachy ’13, the singer in the band Sure Sure, and Jack Conte ’06, a member of the duo Pomplamoose (who also founded Patreon). But three in the past two decades is not much, and none of them were six-person bands.

It makes sense — people don’t come to this school for the music scene. But Six of Spades is hoping to have both music and academics. 

The band is shooting high with their album. If it does as well as they want it to this summer, they might even plan a tour. But a lot of things have to go right before that happens, and they only have so much time together in the near future.

Jules is planning to go abroad this fall, and Emiyare in the spring. So they’re using the last of the time they all have together with efficiency. 

Dina planned a couple days in late May for a full band photoshoot and to record reels to post over the summer. Many members have also been driving up to Ray’s home studio in Berkeley to finish recording their parts for the album. 

They also have final exams and papers to be completed too. 

But as they say, doing things for the band is what they usually want to be doing anyways. 

“Kai always uses the term ‘pit of passion,’ like always, he’s always fucking saying that,” Ty joked during that same rehearsal from early May, getting a laugh out of Kai. “But that really is what it is.”

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What’s in a ‘little’ magazine? ’70s lit mag Sequoia had something special

Students of English literature in the 1970's revived a literary magazine — setting into motion entrepreneurial growth and international reach.

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Stanford has been known as a cradle for “techies” and the STEM disciplines for decades. Amid this skewed prioritization, how did literature students find and foster a sense of community? By running an internationally known literary magazine.

Sequoia, a student-run literary magazine (also called “lit mag” or “little magazine”), was first founded by Wilfred Stone and Linda Brownrigg in 1956. It published student authors along with semi-known, non-commercial writers around the Bay and the country. 

Literary works published in Sequoia include poetry and prose as well as visual art pieces on the cover and interspersed throughout. The digest-sized magazines vary in length from about 30 to 80 pages. The magazine has a professional and undeniably generative look to it. Its works included that of now-renowned authors who were just getting their start, such as Diane Middlebrook, who was making significant changes to her literary identity at the time.

The magazine rose from humble beginnings in the ’50s and was “limping along” — publishing only one issue per year — when English major Dana Gioia ’73 MBA ’77 discovered it. He decided he wanted to make it something bigger.

The ’70s saw a golden age of literary magazines in the United States, according to Gioia. He and his team wanted to place “the work of Stanford writers in the context of broader American literature.” 

“A lot of the most interesting developments in American poetry and literature in the ’70s happened in little magazines,” Gioia said. “I decided to bring Sequoia into this.” He went on to become Sequoia’s editor.

In his introduction to Sequoia’s twentieth anniversary edition, Gioia notes the mismatched reality of California having a “rich literary scene,” yet no magazines equal to “the finest Eastern or Southern publications.” Writers often had to “‘go East’ to achieve recognition,” he wrote. It was against this backdrop that Sequoia was reborn.

Revitalizing Sequoia did not happen without a significant amount of time and energy. The challenge of running any lit mag, according to Gioia, was “first to create it, and next to sustain it.” On top of managing the publication, editors had to review and edit hundreds of submissions. 

“Given a manuscript without any authority, you have to say whether you like it or not,” Gioia said, underscoring the challenge in the selection process. 

Expanding Sequoia’s readership was another challenge. Former Sequoia editor in chief Ted Gioia ’79 MBA ’83 recalled “going door to door in the dorms, trying to convince students to buy a copy of the magazine.” Each copy cost two dollars, a luxury for students back in the ’70s. Two dollars in the ’70s would be worth around 11 dollars today.

“Few things I’ve attempted in life were more challenging than pounding on doors in Stern Hall and Wilbur Hall, trying to sell poems and short stories to the residents,” said Ted Gioia, now a well-known jazz historian.

By the time he and his staff graduated, Sequoia was a “Stanford-based journal of national quality,” according to Dana Gioia. They were publishing a substantial issue every three months, containing works of Stanford writers and a selection of writers from elsewhere. 

Larry Rothfield ’78 noted that Sequoia had an international reach. During a trip to Paris in his student years, his group went to the famous bookstore and literary mecca Shakespeare and Company. To his surprise, the store’s owner had heard of the Northern California literary magazine Sequoia.

Both Dana and Ted Gioia acknowledged their growth from working on Sequoia. “I learned as much about management running Sequoia as I did in business school,” said Dana Gioia, who worked in business for 15 years and previously ran the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Ted Gioia added that his experience at “Sequoia” was “just as valuable as what I learned in a classroom.” He is now a well-known Substack writer with over 132,000 followers.

A shining moment in Sequoia’s history was its 20th anniversary edition released in the winter of 1976. The special edition was an anthology of best poetry published within the previous twenty years. The anthology not only gave space for established authors like Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday, but also aspiring ones like Dana Gioia himself.  

Today, publications at Stanford are plentiful. For the most part, however, these publications are not literary. The closest magazine to Sequoia that Stanford boasts today is Leland Quarterly, Stanford’s “premier literary magazine,” which publishes current Stanford students only.

Sequoia alum Larry Rothfield ’78, now associate professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, has high hopes for what a literary magazine can do for students moving forward: It “galvanizes a scene that the undergraduates can get involved in, and that connects them with the world of actual living writers.” 

“I think it’s still valuable to have these kinds of magazines, especially if they can get support from the administration to bring speakers in and create a [literary] scene,” Rothfield said. 

Dana Gioia hopes that literary magazines at Stanford can continue to give students a space “to meet, to plan, to perform, to publish,” just like Sequoia did for him and his peers. 

Dana Gioia encourages current Stanford students to take on the project of reviving Sequoia. He established a fund through Stanford’s Office of Development for students to take on this project. 

“Give them a little bit of money and they’ll do the rest,” Dana Gioia said. “Real culture comes from the bottom up, not from the top down.”

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Hidden in fame: How ‘The Move’ made it to FrostFest

Charlotte Cao and Adam Golomb follow the student band ‘The Move’ during the week leading up to their opening performance at FrostFest.

The post Hidden in fame: How ‘The Move’ made it to FrostFest appeared first on The Stanford Daily.




“Hit it one time!” Six different instruments play, albeit their notes all slightly off-sync. Everyone burst into laughter. “Oh boy, let’s do that again!”

The band members take a moment to recollect themselves but it’s clear that they’re eager to start their set. 

“What’s the move?” lead singer Jackson McCormick ’27 announces to the rehearsal room in the Burbank basement. “Hit it one time!” The room is teeming with energy when, from the corner of our eyes, alto saxophonist Quinn Simmons ’27 flicks his hands and says, “Go for it.” 

The piano swells, the drum drives into a pulsing rhythm, and the bass thrums into a steady beat. And suddenly, these six disparate instruments move from discordant noise into a crooning song.

Five members of "The Move" sit in a rehearsal room with instruments, practicing for their opening set at Frost Fest.
‘The Move’ practices for FrostFest in a rehearsal room. (Photo: ADAM GOLOMB/The Stanford Daily)

They play the song the way they play all their music: with a jazzy, soulful twist. Although they just got started at the beginning of this year, they’ve already made their mark on campus, winning Battle of the Bands in early April, which earned them a coveted opening act spot for this year’s FrostFest, the annual music and arts festival in Frost Amphitheater.

As soon as we recognize the tune — “Super Rich Kids” by Frank Ocean — we can’t help but rock our heads back and forth. And after we look around, we realize that all seven people in the room are instinctually, almost automatically, doing the same. It’s fitting. Of course, the members of a band known as “The Move” would be compelled into action upon hearing their music.


“Jackson, I genuinely thought it was going to be the end of our friendship when you said you wanted to name the band ‘Italic’,” Quinn says.

It’s 11:58 p.m. on a Thursday, two days before their opening performance at FrostFest, and every member of The Move is crowded together into a tiny music room at Rains Apartments. The room is, in fact, so intimate that all of the musicians are arranged into a tight circle, facing one another, while I sit on the carpeted floor in the center. My head swivels furiously as I aim to keep up with their conversation. 

“I was trying to make an inside joke because of how many of us are in the Italic program,” Jackson says. “But then I thought about it, and what would we yell before our sets? ‘What’s Italic?’ I mean, what would the crowd even repeat back then?”

“Bold or underline,” pianist Haohan Wu ’27 quips, and the room explodes.

Suddenly, everyone is in on the joke. Words like “Helvetica,” “Strikethrough” and “Center Align” are thrown out and with each new addition, their laughter ratchets up in intensity. There’s a familiarity to their banter, a certain rhythm that punches its way through the conversation, and we can’t help but think about how attuned all the members of The Move are to one another, both off and on stage.

Just as soon as their conversation begins, however, it ends, and there’s a split second of silence before they announce that they’re ready to run the medley again — a mix of “Super Rich Kids” and “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John arranged by the entire band in a collaborative process. The Move has a tendency of doing this: playing around in the noise until showtime, at which point everyone snaps into attention.

In their previous rehearsal, which took place on the Sunday before FrostFest, the band spent most of their time perfecting the synchronized beats that lead into the introduction of “Super Rich Kids” and so, when bassist Archish Arun ’26 says, “Fuck it, I think we got it,” we know exactly what he’s referring to.

Jackson begins with his signature, “Hit it one time,” and in response, Quinn stomps his leg dramatically to usher everyone into their first beat. All eyes are on him. And just like Archish predicted, they get it on their first try. 

The air is bustling with music.

What makes The Move so fascinating to watch is their effervescence. If you hadn’t known beforehand that they had spent hours upon hours crafting their own arrangements and week-after-week performing sets at places at CoHo or Spade Rave, you would assume that they are discovering music for the first time. Not because their playing is amateurish (in fact, this couldn’t be farther from the truth), but because there’s an earnestness to their performance.

As Haohan’s hands whip across the keys, his shoulders do a slight shimmy. As guitarist Ryota Sato ’27 plucks against the strings with a calm confidence, he leans forward, bouncing on his right knee. Halfway through their set, Archish motions upward with his hands and though we don’t understand what this signal means, tenor saxist Ethan Htun ’27 certainly does, and they both laugh with each other as the piece continues on. 

Though The Move takes music seriously — as evidenced by the rapid-fire, feedback-driven conversations about inversions and accented beats and pitchy notes that catapult across the room after every set — they are never ones to take themselves too seriously.

This becomes exponentially clear when they begin an impromptu performance of “BBL Drizzy,” an original song of theirs that was created as a joke in response to the Drake and Kendrick Lamar feud. All it takes is Jackson riffing on a few of the introductory notes for drummer Johnathan “Johnny” Martinez ’27 to take the cue and soon, everyone has jumped in. 

Haohan confides in us when they’re done. “That’s just what we do. We’ll start randomly playing a song that we don’t need to practice.”

The song that does need practicing, however, is none other than their mix of the “Pokemon” theme song and Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven.” When asked about the type of music that The Move performs, Quinn says, “This band definitely transcends time in terms of sound.” 

And though the rest of the band lightly teases Quinn for his phrasing (Archish says, “Damn, we ‘transcend time.’ Did you get that in the recording?), we can see where he’s coming from.

According to Ethan, The Move is not confined to any particular genre. Its members are more concerned with creating music that they love and as a result, they draw inspiration from a variety of different wells, whether it be jazz or classic funk. If anything, much of their original music is influenced by Jackson’s unique vocal timbre, which oscillates between a soulful smoothness and a raspy edge. Although the songwriting process tends to start off with one of the members working with Jackson in a one-on-one session, by the end of revisions, the song inevitably ends up sounding like the culmination of everyone’s work, Ryota says.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t flairs of individuality; each person brings their own strengths to the table and the band, as a whole, is eager to learn from one another.

It’s already past 1 a.m. when Archish suggests an edit to their arrangement: “What if, right before we transition into ‘Locked Out of Heaven,’ we repeat that main ‘Pokemon’ theme?”

And rather than express admonishment, everyone is eager to experiment. As they discuss semantics, you can hear snippets of the Pokemon theme song repeated over and over again, like a dynamic, nostalgia-infused echo. Even Johnny, who isn’t playing directly on his drum kit, is using his sticks to beat the rhythms against his knees.

Their third run-through begins with roaring aplomb, but you can tell that everyone is anxiously awaiting to see whether this new idea will play out as they want. As they approach their edited section, Johnny is looking at Haohan who is looking at Archish who is looking at Ryota who nods in response. We are spectators to this invisible language that they all appear to be fluent in.

Once it’s realized they both successfully integrated the Pokemon theme into the transition and it sounds good, there is a flurry of motion, a frenetic energy that manifests itself in a series of elated screams and open-mouthed laughter that is so dynamic it sounds like music itself.

Even after all these months playing together, The Move is still able to surprise themselves.

The rehearsal ends shortly and though we expect everyone to immediately pack up, Archish, Ethan, Haohan and Ryota stay back and start improvising but, much to our surprise, not on their own instruments. 

For the next thirty minutes, they play around, switching instruments and in turn, personas. By the end, Ryota’s on bass, Archish’s on drums, Ethan’s on piano and Haohan’s on guitar. At first, we assume everything they’re playing is some sort of rehearsed repertoire but when we ask, Ethan tells us, “This is just a common chord progression.”

In other words, it’s music built on the moment. Perhaps more accurately, it’s music for the sake of music. Though we’re there in the room, for all intents and purposes, we’re not. The members of The Move are performing for no specific audience besides themselves and for no specific purpose besides their love of the art.

It’s two in the morning when someone finally says, “Okay, let’s get out of here before we get a noise complaint.”


On the morning of FrostFest, the band ends their last rehearsal by testing out their slingshot. When The Move won Battle of the Bands, they threw t-shirts out into the crowd. Now, aiming to reach a stadium audience, the band invested in a slingshot. They catapult their t-shirts across Arguello Field, with half of them manning the slingshot and the other half catching.

They initially can’t get much distance with the slingshot. “Maybe throwing the shirts works best,” Ethan suggests.

“Then why’d we buy a fucking slingshot!” Jackson jokes. The band is determined to achieve the spectacle. After a few more throws, they finally get some air and distance — and quickly turn it into a game of “Three Flags Down.”

Quinn looks at us: “We’re ready now.”


The band spends the next two hours getting lunch, and we meet them at Frost Amphitheater at 2 p.m. When we get to the back entrance, go through the security check and get our press passes, the seriousness and legitimacy of the event hits us. 

We walk into their green room; Haohan is doing a computer science problem set, Ryota is playing poker on his phone. 

The conversation quickly turns to Pokemon. Johnny starts listing off different Pokemon moves as the rest of them declare which Pokemon hat they’re wearing since their introductory song is the Pokemon theme song.

Quinn and Haohan discuss how to play their songs for soundcheck. “I heard when you were doing the wah wah wah, you added the chicka chicka,” Quinn observes.

“Yeah, but it was more like bwah chicka bwah bwah,” Haohan responds. We’re captivated as they essentially speak their own language. It’s endearing to hear them practice their music through conversation.

Jackson chimes in later on the same topic: “A real musician knows how to translate their instruments into bwahs bwahs and womp womps.” 

Ethan begins playing on an unplugged and thus mute keyboard. The band wants to turn it into a game of who can guess the song. Ethan ponders for a moment on which song he wants to play, before smiling and begins silently playing something.

Everyone is huddling around, eyebrows furrowed, when Ryota guesses “‘Autumn Leaves?’” The rest of the band bursts into excitement, cheering Ryota on, although he claims he didn’t even really recognize the song, but “knew it was swing by the way Ethan counted in,” and just had to figure out which song, he says. 

After one of the Frost backstage technicians tell the band their soundcheck will be soon, the bright idea of playing Among Us pops into their mind. Once the name is mentioned, The Move frantically reach for their phones, even inviting us to play. Even with their looming performance, the band knows how to have their fun.

The game is ultimately short-lived when the technician returns and says soundcheck is now. 

Quinn objects: “You’re telling me I have to stop playing Among Us?” We laugh with the band as they go onto the stage for their soundcheck an hour before doors open. We closely observe as they begin to own the stage.

When the drum’s bass begins to project on the mega-speakers, the rest of the band marvels as every thump Johnny plays rings around Frost Amphitheater. Johnny himself smiles widely, as if the realization that this is real has finally hit.

Our attention turns to the saxophonists Quinn and Ethan, who play together like twins wordlessly communicating with each other. Their motion is in sync, cocking their heads back in parallel and cracking the same smile at the other after they’re done playing.

In between breaths you can hear Quinn tell Ethan, “That was good!” And when one has a solo, the other will dance and clap for them. 

Saxophonists Quinn Simmons '27 and Ethan Htun '27 speak to each other on the stage of Frost Amphitheater, both holding saxophones.
Saxophonists Quinn Simmons ’27 and Ethan Htun ’27 speak to each other during their sound check for FrostFest. (Photo: ADAM GOLOMB/The Stanford Daily)

When the band finishes their soundcheck, a Burbank residential assistant, who is part of the Stanford Concert Network and helped organize FrostFest, cheers and claps in an otherwise empty Frost. Jackson and Haohan chuckle lightly. 


Just half an hour later, they are back on stage, this time in front of an audience of several hundred. We watch The Move begin their set. When they’re about to perform their “Super Rich Kids” and “Bennie and the Jets” medley, we are transported to the first time we heard them rehearsing it, messing up the beats and struggling to join in together.

We hold our breaths as Jackson sings, “Hit it one time!” All hit on cue. “Hit it two times!” Two notes perfectly in sync. The anxious moment sits still: “Hit it five times?” Five beats, in rhythm, as the song transitions to “Super Rich Kids.” We look at each other and smile as the crowd behind us cheers as they, too, get the joy of recognizing the song.

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The Stanford Daily Magazine: Eudaimonia

This magazine is an attempt to describe the season of waiting, hoping, and dreaming we find ourselves in, and to examine our individualized perceptions of Eudaimonia — the good life.

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The Stanford Daily

MAGAZINE

VOL. IX • ISSUE I • June 20, 2024

Graphic: MICHELLE FU/ The Stanford Daily

INTRODUCTION

By Seamus Allen and Grace Lee

GRIND

By Grace Carroll
Graphic: MICHELLE FU/The Stanford Daily

NEWS

By Callia Peterson
Photo: BRAD YAC-DIAZ/The Stanford Daily
Graphic: MICHELLE FU/The Stanford Daily

ARTS & LIFE

By Elizabeth Westermann

OPINIONS

By YuQing Jiang
Photo courtesy of Weston Keller
Graphic: DA-HEE KIM/The Stanford Daily

GRIND

By Charlotte Burks
Photo: JACK BERNARDO/The Stanford Daily

Editor in Chief
Kaushikee Nayudu

Executive Editors
Emma Talley, Jessica Zhu

Magazine Editors
Seamus Allen, Grace Lee

Photo & Graphics
Cayden Gu

Michelle Fu

Amy Wang

Callia Peterson

Da-Hee Kim

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The Green Library window

Charlotte Burks ‘27 looks out the windows of Green Library as she contemplates the perspective on life people-watching can bring.

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You might not realize that you know what a Peter Brugel painting looks like, but you’ve seen one. Even better, it doesn’t take an art practice major to create one, or an art history major to identify one. You don’t even need to go to the Cantor Art Museum to find one. Take any window — you can try it right now — look outside, and mentally freeze the image. With that, you’ve created a modern-day Bruegel masterpiece. The beauty of these paintings is not solely that you can recreate them in your head centuries after Bruegel’s life; it is that they depict real life in a completely unadulterated way. In Bruegel’s paintings, just as in real life, there is no chance to stop and fix something you don’t like, nor can you ask for a redo. There is beauty in the imperfection; a fact that can become very hard to remember living in a time period where photo editing and unlimited takes are mandatory — harder still while living in a time and place infected by hustle culture.

After arriving on Stanford campus, Green Library quickly became a second home. A couple of weeks into my first quarter, I stumbled upon my soon-to-be favorite spot: an old armchair nestled into a nook on the second floor. With a wall on one side and a window out to the area of Coupa Cafe on the other, the spot is perfect for focusing. Or, it’s perfect for realizing that you can create Bruegel paintings by looking out any window. Pick your poison.

The exterior of Green Library, shot from Coupa Cafe.
Looking up from the lively, bustling atmosphere of Coupa Cafe, you can see the quiet inside of Green Library. (Photo: JACK BERNARDO / The Stanford Daily)

The armchair provides me the perfect perch to work — and to watch other people work. People-watching was a good distraction from not only my work but also the nagging thoughts which quickly began plaguing my mind:

“Does this word sound weird here?”

“Was this assignment actually due last night?”

“Am I reading the prompt wrong?”

And, sooner rather than later, those thoughts spiraled into bigger questions:

“Am I choosing the right major?”

“Should I be taking more classes?”

“Do I really deserve to be here?” 

By the time I discovered my antidote to these questions — the do-it-yourself Bruegels — it was Stanford’s alumni weekend. The weather was picture-perfect, and the festive mood was only helped by the Stanford colors adorning anything that had space for decoration. Staring out the window toward Coupa, the glass was a canvas painted with people. In one corner table, a group of alumni drinking coffee and laughing together; nearer to the grass, a mom playing with a small child and an even smaller dog; someone in a “Class of 2027” shirt leading around two older adults in Stanford merch. And, looking at all of these people, my mind started to weave their stories.

The Green Library window
The Stanford Libraries collectively contain more than 12 million items. (Photo: JACK BERNARDO / The Stanford Daily)

The group of people sharing coffee and laughter didn’t look like they had a worry in the world. Yet, given their Stanford nametags, they had, at some point, sat in a seat very similar to mine. Despite the fact that I am currently studying at Stanford and they had long since graduated, it hit me that even now I could see similarities between us. Watching them, I saw my laughter with friends while sharing soft-serve at Stern or late-night fries at Lag. Laughter like what they were experiencing almost never comes from conversations about work — they were talking about life, whether it be their present or their past. 

The mother and child playing with the dog provided an interesting mirror-image to the family I saw being led around by a fellow Class of 2027 frosh. On the one hand, the mother’s smile on the grass, arms outstretched, displayed hope and happiness. Her priority that minute was simply the child in front of her and witnessing his present joy. Meanwhile, the family members or parents following around the friends carried a similar smile — yet, their smiles displayed thankfulness more than it did hope. Thankfulness, yes, partially because their child goes to Stanford, but also, because their child is happy. Gratitude because their child learned their new home so well that now, they’re being taught about the campus by a person who moved here only a few weeks ago. In both cases, the window provided me the ability to see something that’s less clear when you’re part of the picture — the smiles and the joy and the hope of others and the gratitude for the moment that is, rather than that which will be. 

People-watching and contemplation are interesting activities, but even better distractions. Even writing this article, I am keenly aware that the reader might look at the examples above, concede they’re beautiful observations on humanity, but decide that they have work to do and forget about them. After all, we cannot advance through life unless we take care of today’s tasks, whether those be assignments in order to pass a class, working a job in order to pay tuition, or something else entirely. And, for all the care I put into painting mental Bruegels for myself and others, I agree: You cannot get through life without work, and inevitably, work will bring some amount of stress. It is how you prioritize your work and choices, and more importantly, how you respond to the consequences of both, that differentiates between simple work, or even passion-driven work, and hustle culture. 

The reason that the armchair in Green has become my favorite spot in the library is not that it has cured me from overworking, or that it has prevented me from stressing about the future while working on assignments that only make up 10% of my grade. It’s also not because it’s the most productive spot in the library, or because I get all my work done there. 

The reason I love that armchair is because, unlike the desks which it faces in Green, it has no blinders to prevent distraction. It has no safeguards against letting you see people, what they’re doing, or your surroundings. The chair, albeit unknowingly, provides the perfect spot to work, while being reminded that your work is not everything. Sitting in this armchair, you do not have to retreat into the stacks and read in order to learn something; simply looking out the window will teach you about yourself and how you view life. In providing you paintings of real people in real time, the chair provides you a museum of evidence for why overthinking or over-stressing about small decisions or small actions won’t be useful in the long-run. Even if the window doesn’t help or comfort you personally, I hope you at least look down and enjoy the view; after all, you might be part of someone’s next mentally-created masterpiece. 

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The path less followed

YuQing Jiang ’25 implores Stanford students to consider the hidden rewards in unconventional life paths.

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I grew up within two cultures that prized convention. Spending the first half of childhood in a large Chinese metropolis, I was presented with a singular future path. I was told that I needed to do well in elementary school so I could get into a prestigious middle school, which would help me get into a prestigious high school, which would help me get into a prestigious university, which, in turn, would help me land a good job and live a comfortable life. This pathway to the “good life” was invariably shared by every child and their parents. Those who dreamed of becoming actresses, athletes or authors were given the reality check and rerouted down the conventional path. 

Moving to a small town on the coast of New Zealand at the age of nine, I experienced a different convention. Here I was not expected to excel academically but instead to be “laid back.” The conventional path for the teenagers in my town looked like finishing high school, finding a job in the area and getting married in your early 20s. “Standing out” or “trying too hard” at school was stigmatized. Tall poppy syndrome is a term often used to describe New Zealanders’ tendency to disparage and criticize those who take the unconventional path or become successful. Those who stand out are cut down like the overgrown poppies in the field and forced to toe the conventional line.

Coming to Stanford, I thought I had finally found a place where unconventionality thrived. I saw that Stanford students held diverse conceptions of what it means to “live well” and “be successful.” We were also provided countless opportunities to pursue whatever we desire in and outside of the classroom. But after spending two years here, I’ve come to feel a powerful current of conventionality. 

Stanford’s convention comes in the form of “productivism.” English sociologist Anthony Giddens defines productivism as a set of values that assume that work “defines whether or not individuals feel worthwhile or socially valued.” This “work” includes solely those tasks that have economic value. All activities that do not have direct economic value are not considered worth doing.

Productivism pervades Stanford’s culture. A large proportion of Stanford students seem to only view activities that improve their resume or lead to a highly-paid internship as worth their time. Applying to the most sought-after pre-professional clubs is a rite of passage for many Stanford students. Every year hundreds flock to ASES, BASES, Stanford Consulting and Stanford Finance in hopes of building economically valuable connections. Those who join less selective clubs, on the other hand, often do so solely in hopes of eventually securing a leadership position they can put on their resume.

The quality of Stanford students’ summer quarters also seems to depend entirely on their level of economic output. Those with full-time internships from tech, VCs, consulting, finance or politics are perceived to have the best type of summer. On the other hand, students doing research, volunteering, part-time internships or helping out with family obligations are seen as having a “chill summer.” Students who decide not to work but spend their summers reading, traveling, doing creative work or just spending time with family — that is, producing nothing of economic value — are viewed to be doing “nothing at all.” In the eyes of productism, non-economic pursuits have no valued existence.

Stanford’s productivist culture also permeates the classroom. Only those majoring in STEM are viewed as doing something actually useful. Non-STEM majors are seen as “daydreamers” who have no useful skills and will become unemployed after graduation — unless they coterm in CS or go to law school. As a result, many students who came into Stanford as non-STEM majors end up majoring in CS or commit themselves early to graduate school 

Even for students who end up sticking to non-STEM majors, Stanford’s productivism continues to influence their learning. Maintaining a high GPA is the primary objective for many non-STEM students, since it is weighted heavily in graduate school admissions. Because of this pressure, students often skip class readings, since they play no role in their grades. Many students view their classes and majors not as something of intrinsic value but as a mere prerequisite to their future educational pursuits. 

The all-encompassing influence of productivism has instilled in Stanford students the notion that the quality of life can only be measured in economic terms, and that the most worthwhile pursuit for a young adult is money. To live well therefore means to live wealthy. This has made us come to idolize the high-paying fields of tech, VC and consulting, as well as to worship those who achieve material success. 

Conceiving of the good life in economic terms is perverse and dangerous. The downfalls of Elizabeth Holmes and Sam Bankman-Fried more than sufficiently illustrate why adopting maximizing profits as a guiding ethos is a bad idea. On top of these examples, the productivist philosophy may not even yield the highest economic returns.

Stanford economics professor Caroline Hoxby, one of the world’s leading scholars in the economics of education, illustrates in her work that it is erroneous for students to believe that by choosing majors with the highest average income, such as CS or engineering, they will automatically end up having the most lucrative careers. Such a conclusion completely neglects to take into account any individual qualities. A student who is passionate about and talented within a specific field will certainly earn more in that field than if they had worked in a field they both hated and had no talent for, even if the latter field had a higher average income. Although the average sociologist makes less than the average chemical engineer, the best sociologist is likely to make more than the latter.

Productivism needs to go. And we need to replace it with something better. We need a campus culture that cultivates a more robust conception of the good life. More than material success, to live a good life is to create an impact on the world, experience fulfillment and happiness, as well as learn and discover new things. Such a conception of the good life is unequivocally more enriching than productivism. 

To achieve such a campus culture, Stanford students must begin to embrace unconventionality and recognize the value of non-economic pursuits. We need to stop conceiving of “value” in the shallow economic sense, but rather in a deeper personal sense. Productivism has deceived us into thinking that the value we ought to place on things is identical to their market value. In reality, there exists a fundamental discrepancy between what is of value to the market and what is of value to each of us. The market fails to account for the “intrinsic value” of our lived experiences. Our social bonds, creative and intellectual endeavors and a sense of meaning and fulfillment are all things with irreducible, intrinsic value. We value them not because they are useful in our pursuit of some other aim, but because they are valuable to us in and of themselves. 

Pursuing something a student finds intrinsically valuable often means pursuing that student’s passion. People who take this path are therefore more likely to become good at what they do. The unconventional path also frequently leads people to neglected domains where they can provide the most marginal impact. For instance, a student passionate about Chinese calligraphy would make a much greater impact researching Chinese calligraphy than if they had become a software engineer. As a Chinese calligraphy scholar, the student could produce significant intellectual contributions to a neglected field of study. But as a grudging software engineer in a tech company, the student could do little to impact the world in any meaningful way, and they would be easily replaceable. 

Choosing to take the unconventional path would also enable students to learn, experience and discover more about the world within and the world without. By seeing the intrinsic value of their majors and courses, students would better prioritize completing readings and attending lectures, enabling them to learn more deeply and comprehensively. Those who embrace unconventionality would also become more inclined to study abroad and spend their summers exploring new things and cultivating their passions, giving them a richer set of life experiences. 

The path of unconventionality also ensures that students will experience the greatest amount of positive emotions in the long run. Money can only buy so much happiness. According to a Gallup study, the amount of positive emotions a person living in the U.S. experiences peaks when that person’s household earns around $75,000 per year, with some regional variations. For California residents, this number sits higher, at $105,000, likely due to the higher average salary and cost of living. Given that virtually all Stanford graduates will reach this level of household income by mid-career, we can only derive a higher degree of positive emotions from non-economic sources. This includes finding a career we love, cultivating meaningful relationships and safeguarding our physical and mental well-being — all of which are valuable intrinsically. 

It may be objected that taking the path of unconventionality is a luxury some students cannot afford. Many students feel compelled to pursue money in hopes of improving the material conditions of their family as quickly as possible. These students fear the prospect of being unable to secure a high-paying job after graduation, preventing them from financially supporting their families.

The adoption of productivism by these students is understandable. However, their fear of being unable to find a highly paid job following graduation is unfounded. As Stanford graduates, we will find highly paid jobs, irrespective of our grades and majors. Even though some of us earn more than others, everyone will earn more than enough. The median early and mid career salaries for Stanford graduates with only bachelor’s degrees are $98,900 and $177,500, respectively. These numbers rise to $105,300 and $196,400, respectively, if we also include Stanford’s graduates who go on to earn additional degrees. Students should therefore see themselves as free and able to reject productivism without having to forgo the economic rewards of upward mobility. 

Yes, we are all Stanford students. We all want to live not only a good life, but the best life. However, conceiving of the quality of our lives in purely economic terms is perversely narrow. Doing so reduces each of us to the homo economicus of Econ 1 — a man who always acts to maximize economic returns and takes nothing to be of intrinsic worth. To truly live well, we must see value in  non-economic pursuits, such as the experiences we have and the impacts we make. A life so conceived is infinitely more meaningful and fulfilling. To realize this conception of the good life, we must embrace the unconventional path by rejecting productivism.

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Leaves of absence and leaps of faith

Leaves of absence give students a chance to get away from the University. They often return with a renewed enthusiasm for Stanford, or decide to leave the University behind.

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“It wasn’t even really a decision,” said Cyris Kissane ’24. “There was a tipping point, sometime during my junior year, where I found that I couldn’t focus. Three weeks into the quarter, I realized my 20% project had become 100%, and it became hard to justify school work and ignore what my brain was telling me to do.”

Stanford feels like it should be hard to walk away from: the education, the friendships, the constant chugging along of classes and work that seem to keep this place going. There’s often a fear that stepping away from the safety of a four-year plan will compromise the life Stanford sets up for you. Yet, when speaking to students who have chosen to take a leave of absence, it seems to be almost the only option.

Kissane, who is currently a year into their leave of absence, has spent their time away from working on a startup, Crystal Computing Corporation, which builds highly efficient artificial intelligence language models.

“I had had a couple of ideas for startups before even coming to Stanford. Around five years ago, I had started thinking about AI and operating systems, and with the advent of DALL-E, Chat GPT and advancements in machine learning, it felt like now, the ideas that I’ve been playing with — it felt like it was time.” It was now or never.

For Emily Zhang ’26, who took this winter quarter off to work as a software engineer at Scale AI in San Francisco, the changing landscape of AI and machine learning was a draw to taking a leave of absence, but not the main factor of her decision.

“Before, I had already thought of taking a gap quarter,” said Zhang. “I didn’t feel a strong sense of self at Stanford. There are so many forces and pressures and voices to follow what everyone else is doing, and freshman year I was sucked into that.”

As she works over the course of this winter and gains exposure to the industry, Zhang is also taking time to invest in her other passions that she felt she had lost during her time at Stanford.

“Working has kind of made me realize that I’m capable of more than what I was doing at Stanford, and I let it be an excuse to stop making art, which is something I’ve always loved and have been spending more time on now.”

Zhang, who is a double major in art practice and computer science, has won numerous awards for her paintings, which often focus on portraits and speak to her Asian American heritage. Since coming to college, however, she said she has lost some of the passion and energy she used to put toward art creation.

“I’m hoping to find a sustainable way to work and live,” she shared. “I noticed that freshman spring and sophomore fall, I was experiencing a lot of social anxiety, which I’d never had before.” Thus far, the leave of absence has felt like release from a pressure cooker.

Diamond Thlang ’25 returned this year from his gap quarter in the fall, which was motivated by feelings similar to Zhang’s. Thlang, who says he struggled socially in high school, said that although he found a safe haven at Stanford his freshman year, he was burnt out and in pain by the end of his sophomore year last spring.

“I knew something was wrong when my mom looked at me and told me she couldn’t recognize me anymore,” Thlang said.

When he had first arrived at Stanford, Thlang was ecstatic to have found friends who shared his passions and “were passionate about learning for the sake of learning and maximizing life.” He participated in the Stanford Summer Engineering Academy (SSEA) and developed strong relationships with his peers, something he hadn’t experienced at his previous school. However, these relationships degraded over time and left Thlang in a place of solitude and numbness.

“I took so much emotional damage and didn’t realize that me feeling these emotions so intensely wasn’t normal,” he said. “My ADHD had kicked in and put my brain on autopilot.” In this state of devastation and reclusiveness, Thlang started his summer wanting to drop out of Stanford entirely. The turning point, he says, was this summer spent in New York for a machine learning internship.

“I was finally so far removed from campus that I found myself in the conditions I needed to start recovering and unpacking,” said Thlang, a mathematical and computational science major. In this time, he reconnected with his faith and grew spiritually. “I continued to tightrope the line between pain and newfound appreciation of self, one built on a firm, renewed wisdom,” he shared.

When fall came around, rather than returning to Stanford, Thlang made the decision to take a leave of absence to live at home in Minnesota and mend his relationship with his family, which had become fraught at Stanford. Since his return this winter, Thlang shares that he is in a much better place both personally and with his loved ones. “I call my mom and dad every day without fail now and tell them I love them and appreciate them every living moment I get.”

Sofie Roux ’26 is another returner this winter, having spent this past fall quarter away from Stanford to work on Bloombox Design Labs, a public benefit corporation that she founded to support girls’ education initiatives.

Roux, who studies architecture and design, was inspired by other Stanford students she’d met who had taken time off to pursue passion projects. “Here, it feels like if you have an idea, you should pursue it at the highest possible level, and in business, climate-related work, there’s a push to do things in the real world, which I admire.”

Despite having a great freshman year, Roux felt pulled in two directions when the idea of a leave came up. She had started Bloombox while still in high school, the first one having been built from a solar panel roof in her backyard. The initiative grew, with Roux getting a patent for her solar roof system and traveling with her team to Malawi to build more Bloomboxes to support girls’ STEAM education. The project came to a pause when Roux started her freshman year at Stanford, in part due to a lack of funding. She picked it back up this past summer, with the goal of bringing accessible education to more students through sustainable design.

Ultimately, while at a refugee camp this summer in Malawi for a build, Roux decided to “run with it, not do both things halfway,” and chose to take a leave of absence to work on the project full-time. She knew that she would come back to Stanford when she was ready.

When asked about if they would return to Stanford, Kissane took a moment to pause. “I don’t know … the journey that I felt compelled to do has yet to be finished.” In their time working on Crystal, they built up a team of Stanford alumni and fellow students who took a leave with them. Their vision for the product has changed over time with the deeper investment of working on the startup full time.

“Being fully immersed in the problem that you’re focusing on has been valuable,” Kissane shared. While working full time on Crystal, they realigned their focus from building deeply personal AI driven operating systems, to making large AI models to focus on extreme efficiency, something that felt lacking the space, but critical to their original goal of sustainable, and private use of AI in personal devices. The impact of Crystal’s language models will hopefully be useful on many fronts: for the original goal of private on-device AI, but also from the environmental standpoint of using less energy to generate output, and from the economic view of efficiency and affordability.

Having had an online first year of college and a sophomore year that still felt lacking in community, Kissane didn’t make their closest friends until junior year, which was when they felt like they were able to “jump off the fence” and take their leave. They’re based in Palo Alto and have continued to stay connected to Stanford’s campus, conceding that “it’s hard to find a community like Stanford” outside of the proclaimed “bubble.” There are pros to this, they say, such as being able to be more “experimental in how I interact with people,” referring to the broader set of contexts in which people interact, far beyond dorm or class scenarios. However, the occasional visit on campus has been important for remaining connected with the people and communities they developed during their time as a student.

During her leave of absence, where she worked from home in Vancouver, Roux was able to stay connected to Stanford through her continued involvement as a PEAK fellow and with Solar Car Club. She was especially touched by the efforts of her friends on campus to stay connected with her.

“It was beautiful to see that a lot of my close friends really made an effort to stay friends. Stepping away was really healthy for me too, being able to not be completely attached to campus,” she said. Zhang also plans to stay connected to Stanford during her leave of absence; she recently came back to campus for a weekend visit and will be attending a trip to Tahoe with the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. “Distance,” she said, “makes the heart grow fonder.”

What does one take away from a leave of absence, and how do you decide whether to take one or not? For Thlang, knowing that there were people back at Stanford supporting his choice made his time away possible. “Even as I experienced a dark period in my life, I still had a lively community of people supporting me, and to those people I say, ‘Thank you for waiting for me with open arms and an open heart.’” He now feels that his leave of absence had been necessary to come back to Stanford with healed wounds and a stronger sense of self and purpose.

To those considering taking a leave of absence, Kissane poses the following question: “Instead of enumerating the reasons why you should take an LOA, just really think about why you are not taking it.” Leaves of absence are a big enough decision that if there is enough force to make you consider taking one, the chances are high that the same force will push you in that direction.

Kissane, a math and computer science major, says while at Stanford they learned the most in their interdisciplinary classes, like dance and geophysics, but never felt compelled to study hard for an exam or do homework. To them, working on Crystal has exemplified the difference that a sense of purpose can make in one’s workflow. “I’m investing an absurd amount of time; startups are not a 9-5. It’s like a 16 hour a day kind of thing, and balance is harder to achieve when there’s something you really want to go after.”

While working 100% on Bloombox in the fall, Roux was able to bring visions she’d had in the past to life with all of her newfound time. She continued her mission of constructing sustainable educational infrastructures in under-resourced communities in addition to new ventures that would bolster it. Bloombox established a North American revenue line, launched an app called Superbloom connecting students around the world, and installed starlink satellites in all of the existing educational spaces that have been built in Malawi.

The Stanford experience is no doubt a special opportunity that shapes the lives of all its students, but in our time connected to it, the school itself is not meant to be all-consuming. The people we meet at Stanford and the things we learn are supposed to enrich our lives as whole, whether we are here or away.

When asked about her return to campus this winter and whether she sees herself taking another leave of absence, Roux says she’s not sure yet. “I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that the deeper you go into something, the more opportunities open up. At Stanford, now that I know what I want to do, there are so many cool resources and mentors for me. It really reminds you that every day you spend here is a gift, being around so many intelligent, cool, and special people.”

Zhang returned to Stanford this spring with a fresh perspective on school and what it means to be fulfilled by one’s work.

“When I get back, I really want to do more research, especially after experiencing industry, to gain a better perspective on what my options are after graduation.” She also wants to take more classes that excite her, such as the painting and blockchain classes she took her frosh winter. “I want to take inspiring classes, not just a lighter course load, and meet more inspiring people.”

Meanwhile, Kissane is in no rush to return to Stanford – their focus remains on Crystal. “Every year I wait, there’s more pressure to just finish your degree, but I feel more and more excited to do what I want to do.”

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The Good Life and The Good Death in IntroSems

Elizabeth Westermann ’26 reviews Stanford classes, “The Good Life” and “The Good Death,” examining the rarity of similar classes and niche, newly formed communities.

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In her small dorm room, junior Anne Kwok only has space for a handful of books. Almost all of them are from an IntroSem she took frosh year: “Perspectives on the Good Life.” The texts included Emily Dickinson’s collected poems, “The Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James, and the “Basic Writings of Zhuangzi.” One day after class, Kwok asked the professor, Lee Yearley, what had helped him through his darkest times in life. He replied, “Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, William James.” He had, Kwok realized, designed the class around the books that had helped him the most in his over five decades as a religious studies professor. 

After being introduced to the subject during the IntroSem “The Good Death,” Molly Graybill spent a summer researching and training to be a death doula, a person who provides support to a dying person and their family members, on a Chappell-Lougee scholarship. The scholarship provides funding for a full-time project in the humanities, creative arts or social sciences to selected Stanford students during the summer after sophomore year. Graybill, now a junior, said that she walked out of a class meeting where two death doulas were invited to speak “feeling so moved and inspired and so full of life, I wanted to learn how to be a doula and study this amazing group of people I’d never heard of.” 

Frosh and sophomores often seek out IntroSems, short for Introductory Seminars, to explore a topic of interest with a small group of peers. The classes offer an opportunity to connect with a professor and classmates in a discussion-based setting. The religious studies IntroSems for frosh, “Perspectives on the Good Life” and “The Good Death,” seem to stand out from among an already very popular set of introductory courses. A quick glance at the reviews on Carta with phrases like “life-changing,” “mind-blowing conversations,” “epitome of a college class” and “do everything in your power to take [it]” gives an impression of the unique impact on some students.   

What exactly makes these courses so powerful? Kwok reflected that, “A lot of philosophy classes are reading texts and understanding what people have thought before but [“Perspectives on the Good Life”] is really developing your own philosophy of life.” Graybill felt similarly that “The Good Death” was a class that enabled students to “discern a path for themselves, their values and what matters in life.” She continued, “I would venture to say that it’s almost impossible to live a good life without considering what a good death entails. This class has definitely transformed the way I think about my life and the things I value, how I spend my time, who I spend my time with.” 

It is the small, discussion-based environment of these courses that enables students to begin exploring and voicing their views on some of life’s most profound questions. Kwok described how in “Perspectives on the Good Life,” Professor Yearley would “listen to our inexperienced thoughts about the meaning of life and take it seriously. It gave me a sense of confidence and made me feel like I could contribute to what a good life means.” Professor Anna Bigelow, who teaches “The Good Death,” said of teaching the class that “sometimes it feels like you’re more of a witness than a teacher as people are learning and finding language for their interests.”  

At the same time, space constraints mean that few students have the opportunity to take these courses given that they are offered only for frosh, on a yearly or biyearly basis. Many students who apply for a spot don’t get in. Kwok said, “I was lucky to be able to get in … I don’t think there are a lot of opportunities like that class.” Graybill similarly reflected that similar classes and spaces aren’t “out there enough” and feels that this “kind of a class should be required for undergrads to take; that level reflection about values in life can be very transformative.”

The “good life” and “good death” are closely related. As Bigelow explains, embedded in the idea that “there are better and worse ways to die … are questions of what does it mean to live well and appropriately whether morally, or ethically or whatever else the driving ethos of your life might be … How you live relates to how you die.” While the course explores questions of how to live, its main focus is on death itself, which Bigelow sees as “often a less fully explored idea.” 

One of Bigelow’s motivations in teaching the course is that “in American society at this moment, it’s often very awkward and difficult to have conversations about death … It involves a lot of fear and anxiety and there is a fair amount of research suggesting that the more one addresses these fears and anxieties, the less they are experienced,” she said. The course explores death practices and rituals from around the world and across time periods in addition to examining how instances of unjust deaths can spur major social change, such as during the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Graybill, a religious studies major, feels that “The Good Death” shaped her Stanford academic journey. “It was such a beautiful foundation for the rest of my education at Stanford. It informed my degree choice and how I think about building intention,” she said. In addition to pursuing a Chappell Lougee scholarship to further research death doulas, Graybill took a graduate-level seminar, also taught by Bigelow, on death and religion. 

Kwok will continue to study the good life when she goes abroad to Oxford this spring and takes an individually designed class called a tutorial. “One thing I got [from “Perspectives on the Good Life”] was a continuous curiosity to pursue this more. I’m going to Oxford to study abroad and my tutorial is going to be an extension of this course. I’m trying to see what happens in your brain when you have a religious or spiritual experience, basically, what happens to create meaning. I’m trying to see what happens in your brain when you read poetry, and I’m trying to write a lot of poetry,” she said. 

The summer after taking “Perspectives on the Good Life,” junior Jay Yu returned to some of the course material. “The William James reading ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience’ really stuck with me. So I ended up buying the actual whole book on Amazon and just going through it through the summer, reading it cover to cover. That was definitely a really great experience, having the chance to actually dive deep into one of the things,” he reflected. 

Given the pre-professional focus of many of Stanford’s student organizations and most popular majors, these IntroSems can be, if not a counter to these pressures, a space in which to reflect and gain a wider perspective on what can constitute success. As an economics major and member of multiple pre-professional groups on campus, Kwok reflected that, “Being in a pre-professional group can narrow you into one path, but having this class as part of my foundation at Stanford showed me the range of things I can do.”

She recalled one particularly unconventional route mentioned by her professor: “One of the favorite things our professor would talk about was that he converted a Stanford student into a goat farmer and he’s very proud of that and I think that showed me a new perspective on what it means to have a good life.” 

Yu, a double major in computer science and philosophy on the philosophy and literature track, said that during the class it was “impressed on us that we should focus on the humanities … and that we don’t need to be on the tech and finance grind. But after the class, when we would talk to each other, we were all [on the grind]. We were taking classes like these but were still pretty realistic about what our goals are.”

Still, Yu felt that most students in the class shared a “reflective capability to look within themselves and say, ‘Yes I am choosing these things because I believe in something. I know that my life is not just about a career.’” Classes like “Perspectives on the Good Life” perhaps can help expand this intentionality. In Yu’s view, college is about preparing for a career, but also life itself: “You should be in college to grow as a person, rather than just grow a skill set for a career.” 

Years after taking “Perspectives on the Good Life,” Kwok, Yu and their classmates continue to maintain the community that emerged from the class. “I still get picnics with the people in my IntroSem,” Kwok said. It’s been like three years and at least every quarter we still talk about the topics that we talked about in that class … Our professor encouraged groups outside of class to continue these conversations and created a lot of community and so the class didn’t end spring quarter, it feels like it’s continued until now.”

Graybill had a similar experience, saying that “The Good Death” had “one of the most life-giving environments, with conversations that lasted in and out of class.” Graybill met two of her closest friends through the class and remains in touch with many of her other classmates. “People continue to reminisce about the class,” she said. 

For Bigelow, “The Good Death” has been “hands down my favorite class to teach or really just to be in any way a part of.” It is incredibly meaningful, she says, to teach a class that encourages students to  “recognize … that they have something to contribute on some of the most important questions, ultimately, that any of us will ever confront.”

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Essential writing

Stanford’s Stegner fellows take a massive right turn in their life to dedicate themselves to writing for two years. While writing is often a solitary activity, the program is anythin

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Nourished. Playful. Peaceful. Frustrating. Essential.

These are the words first-year fiction Stegner fellow Emma Binder used to describe how writing makes them feel. Before coming to Stanford as a Stegner fellow, Binder was working full-time as an immigration specialist while finding time to write a short story collection in the mornings and evenings. Binder submitted one of those stories as part of their application for Stanford’s most prestigious writing program. Right when the balance between their demanding legal job and personal writing was becoming unsustainable, they got the call.

“The Stegner I think is something that a lot of people apply to and nobody envisions they’re actually getting it. I’ve never talked to a single person who’s gotten a Stegner who was like, ‘Yeah I expected that phone call.’ It’s sort of like winning the lottery or something,” they said. “When I got the phone call, I was just totally blown away. I don’t even really remember the phone call. I kind of blacked out.”

Second-year fiction Stegner fellow Faith Merino juggled writing, working and raising kids before applying to the program. She worked from home as a business technology reporter. When her first baby was born, she took care of him while working and writing a novel, waking up at five in the morning to write. When her second son was born, she had to leave her paying job to focus on taking care of her kids full time. Her youngest child was struggling to sleep with severe acid reflux and child care was too expensive. At the time, she was making as much as a child care worker. When her youngest child could start school, she went to the University of California, Davis to get her master’s of fine arts (MFA). Still, the pandemic brought her kids home again, and her family was “back to square one.”

“I definitely feel like the last ten years of writing [have] been just a sort of process of trying to cobble together these little gasps of air to get time to put something on paper,” she said. 

In 2021, Merino applied to the Stegner program. She was in her kids’ elementary school parking lot when she got the call. 

“I literally sent in my application, like the day before the deadline closed because it was just for shits and giggles,” she said.

“I got the call…and I just had this full blown, screaming, jumping reaction.”

Jemimah Wei, another second-year Stegner fellow, grew up in Singapore where she also completed her undergraduate and first master’s degrees. She worked in advertising and media before coming to the United States to get her MFA at Columbia in 2019. When the pandemic hit, Wei returned to Singapore and kept writing. She made the intercontinental leap once more in 2021 when New York started to open up again. By then, she was applying to fellowships and simultaneously working on both a novel and her thesis. Every day, Wei went to the Columbia library to take over a desk with her sticky notes and papers. She was at the library when her phone rang, and she hustled to the bathroom to pick up the call. Wei shrieked when she heard the news. 

“I just couldn’t believe what was happening, and on brand for me, somebody flushed the toilet in the background,” she said. “[Stanford faculty member Patrick Phillips] was like, ‘Where are you?’ and I was like, ‘Actually, funny story, I ran into the library’s bathroom to pick up your call.”

First-year fiction Stegner fellow Hassan Mirza came to the U.S. from Pakistan to study creative writing at Bowdoin College in Maine. He got his MFA at Vanderbilt and was getting his Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati when he found out he would be moving to the Bay for the two-year Stegner program. 

“I was obviously not expecting to get it. The chances of getting the fellowship are so slim that it would be very foolhardy to expect it,” he said. “There was the usual, like, sense of disbelief, shock, delight. And like a lot of delayed reactions … You sort of logically understand something has happened to you, but emotionally cannot fathom what it looks like.” 

Stanford accepts five fiction writers and five poets to the prestigious, two-year Wallace Stegner Fellowship every year. Fellows come to campus once a week during the fall, winter and spring quarters to participate in a three-hour workshop with their peers.

During their time in the Stegner program, fellows write anything from novels to short stories, and share feedback with one another. Sometimes the Stegner program can act as a crucial stepping stone to entering a full-time writing career. Each fellow receives a $50,000 stipend, free tuition and health insurance, allowing them time to hone their craft without working a different full-time job. Binder, who got their MFA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison before getting a full time legal job, wanted writing to always be a part of their life.

“I think it feels on some level non-negotiable for me. Writing does feel like a very essential part of who I am, how I process things, how I relate to the world. And so I would always be doing it even if my professional life is in a different field,” they said.

Essential writing
(Photo: BRAD YAC-DIAZ/The Stanford Daily)

In addition to providing funding for the fellows to focus on writing full-time, the Stegner program is structured such that the fellows come together for a workshop on campus. Once a week, the fellows gather in the Mariposa house or Margaret Jacks Hall, often carpooling from either Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco. During the workshops, the fellows give and receive feedback on each other’s work as well as hear from Stanford faculty. 

Outside programs like Stegner, writers often go for long periods of time without receiving feedback or knowing whether their writing is resonating with their audience. Wei explains that writers can experience self doubt. Merino describes writing as a “weird paradox of isolation and groping for connection [with an unknown reader].” The Stegner fellowship alleviates some of those feelings. Not only does acceptance indicate they are producing meaningful and valuable work, but each writer’s work is being shared and discussed with their peers on a regular basis. 

“As a writer, you’re often just working in a vacuum and you’re just hoping that like the thing that you’re obsessing about to the point of writing it and putting it on paper is something that maybe will resonate with somebody else. There’s a point where you wonder, ‘Am I just a weirdo? Am I just off in my own universe, spinning out?’” Merino said. “To get recognition from such a prestigious program … it’s like realizing, ‘Okay, I actually do have something worthwhile to offer the world, and maybe I’m not just some spastic weirdo, who’s just off in a corner, fritzing, maybe there is actually something that I can offer.’” 

Merino has noticed after engaging with her peers’ work that their “stories do tend to speak to one another.” She has found this extends to their personalities as well, describing both their natures and writing as compassionate. Wei, who is also in Merino’s cohort, described her cohort as quite close and communicative. 

Two ladies on a stage during a Q&A session. One of them is in the middle of answering a question.
Faith Merino (left) and Jade Cho (right) seated for a Q&A about their writing styles, supernatural elements in their work, and the research process. (Photo: BRAD YAC-DIAZ/The Stanford Daily)

“At the risk of sounding absolutely ridiculous, I feel like I’ve made these four new best friends,” Merino said. “It is really cool to meet people in the Stegner program and just instantly fall in love with them [and] instantly have these very, these very close personal connections … I’m actually going to be very sad when this program is over, and I don’t get to see them once a week anymore. I was not expecting to …make such close personal relationships with so many people.”

The work of the fellows can often be in conversation, but the topics and subjects vary widely. Mirza writes about Pakistanis, particularly urban, middle class Pakistanis who witnessed Pakistan go through a period of globalization and violence. Mirza also likes to write about migration. Binder is working on a short story collection about queer and trans stories set in Midwestern small towns and rural areas. They are seeking “to challenge the expectation that there is no place for queer people or trans people in rural areas, and that the only options are to hide [their] identity or to leave.”

Wei writes literary fiction. She shared that Stegner faculty member Adam Johnson “describes literary fiction as being immensely concerned with aftermath, so picking up the pieces of something that’s happened.” Readers will sometimes approach her about her work when she is out at bars or parties or will write to her online. She has been surprised by which parts of her stories they choose to respond to.

“People often ask … ‘What do you hope your writing does for people?’ And I have my own hopes, but I do also feel that there is no way you can know what your writing is going to do for somebody,” she said. “I have been very pleasantly and warmly surprised by my readers. And I like it that way.” 

Wei writes for an audience that would read her work in good faith.

“[Writers] have to write for the ideal reader and not write for … the worst faith reader who is [going to] try and … pick your story apart no matter what,” she said. “I can’t control how people react to my work, but what I can control is my work itself, because the relationship between me and my writing and me and the page is the only like, pure relationship that I can fully control.” 

Mirza’s idea of who his audience is can shift.

“Sometimes I’m reacting against an idea of a certain kind of an audience. So if I’m choosing to write, sometimes I’ll be like, I’m not gonna cater to the needs of … what I imagine is a conventional American reader,” he said. “If I am writing about a different country I’m not, for instance, [going] to try and make it [easily] digestible. So that is like acting against the notion of a certain kind of an audience.” 

Mirza hopes that his work gives readers “a more nuanced understanding of human life.” 

“[Fiction] should not, in my opinion, give you easy answers toward what we should do or what our duty is in life or as people, but it can sort of demonstrate some of the complications of being a human,” he said.

After the fellowship program, Mirza is planning to have a career in academia, so he can both write and teach. Binder started teaching while they were in Wisconsin getting their MFA and doing a fellowship.

“I do miss it. I find teaching creative writing to be really energizing, and meaningful, so I hope to get back to that someday,” Binder said.

The Stegner program gives fellows the opportunity to be mentors to undergraduates through Levinthal Tutorials.

Senior and creative writing minor Bea Phi applied to a Levinthal Tutorial and has begun working with Wei for the duration of winter quarter. The tutorial counts as a five-unit class for undergraduates and is designed by the students themselves, meeting weekly with their Stegner fellow throughout the quarter, working through a reading list, and completing a writing project. Undergraduates submit their applications for a Levinthal Tutorial at the start of fall quarter and the Stegner fellows select who they want to work with by early December.

“A Stegner fellow picks the student that they want to work with based on compatibility and fit, it usually comes down to not talent or experience, but just like a connection between the Stegner and the Levinthal,” Phi said. “I had my meeting with my Stegner fellow two days ago, and it was really interesting to have a one-on-one experience. I feel like that doesn’t happen a lot in academia.” 

Phi and Wei will be focusing on techniques because Phi indicated that was an area they wanted to focus on. During their first meeting, they discussed the techniques Phi liked, disliked, and was curious about so that they could work on each throughout their time together. 

Phi emphasized that the Levinthal tutorials are for everyone, regardless of level or experience. 

“It’s not there for like the best writer on campus, it’s there for the writer who has an idea of how they want to grow. And that, of course, can be anybody.”

The Stegner fellows guide undergraduates interested in creative writing, but they are also learning and growing as writers themselves. While they have found purpose in pursuing writing, they still encounter feelings of vulnerability, frustration and struggle.

“There’s the peace in pursuing something that feels so essential to me and essential about how I relate to the world and relate to my community,” Binder said. “And then sometimes it’s really frustrating too. But I think as I get older, there’s still a sense of peace even when it is frustrating because I have come to a better understanding of how the frustration is part of the process, too. And that it wouldn’t be as rewarding of an endeavor if it came easily all the time.”

Wei provided the analogy of happiness being like the weather and fulfillment being like the climate. Writing gives her fulfillment. 

“I feel very fulfilled, because I’m doing what I want to do in my life,” Wei said. “Every day is so different, you can have an amazing day, [because] when the writing is going good, it’s incredible. But then when the writing is hard, it can be really miserable. And acknowledging that it’s such a difficult and vulnerable thing to be doing is very helpful, because … you separate that from a sense of self worth as much as you can.”

From Levinthal tutorials to workshops, the Stegner program offers a unique and rewarding experience to writers from all over the world, a true gift for people of all backgrounds, careers, and perspectives. For two years, writers are given financial assistance, thoughtful feedback on their work, and a sense of community as they form deep relationships with the members of their cohorts. Once they finish their time as a fellow, they can use what they have learned to pursue something that feels so ingrained into who they are as people. 

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Several hundred Pro-Palestine students walk out of Stanford Commencement

Hundreds of students walked out of the ceremony while many more who remained seated waved Palestinian flags.

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Over 400 pro-Palestine students walked out of Stanford’s 133rd Commencement ceremony Sunday morning, waving Palestinian flags, while President Richard Saller greeted graduates. Many more students who remained seated wore keffiyehs and waved Palestinian flags. 

The walkout was planned by Stanford Against Apartheid in Palestine (SAAP) and publicized through social media. They also planned an “Alternative Commencement Ceremony Honoring Palestine” at Ueland field. While the location was not shared publicly before students walked out, flyers advertising the walk out were handed out as students entered the ceremony. 

“We invite graduates, friends, and family to walk out of commencement into our alternative ceremony next to the stadium, to show support for divestment and honor Palestine this graduation weekend,” the post read. Students walked out after someone in the crowd signaled by yelling “stand up.”

The Commencement livestream remained focused on Saller, who commended graduates that matriculated amid a global pandemic and graduated during “tragic” wars.

The walkout followed the University’s removal of a pro-Palestine encampment in White Plaza, on the same day that students occupied the president’s office. Students who participated and a Daily reporter inside the building were arrested and charged with three felonies. 

The Daily has reached out to the University for comment on the walkout. 

SAAP has three demands on the University: add a divestment resolution submitted by SAAP — which was supported by undergraduate voters in the recent ASSU elections — to the next Board of Trustees meeting, with a recommendation from Saller supporting the bill, disclose finances from the previous fiscal year (2022) including endowment investments and drop all disciplinary and criminal charges against pro-Palestine students at Stanford.

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Anthony Batson signs with Stanford men’s basketball

Six-foot-three guard Anthony Batson signed with Stanford men's basketball on Tuesday.

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High school class of 2024 recruit Anthony Batson signed with Stanford on Tuesday, according to a press release by the school. A six-foot-three guard from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Scottsdale, Ariz., Batson averaged 22.1 points per game and 6.3 rebounds his senior year of high school. He also shot 62% from the field and over 45% from beyond the arc this past season.

“Anthony Batson is a welcomed addition to our program. He has always had a strong desire from an early age to be at Stanford,” said Stanford head coach Kyle Smith. 

Batson chose Stanford over Arizona State, Colorado State, Nevada and Rice, where he was previously commited. 

“Anthony is a dynamic scorer. He makes threes and possesses an athletic burst which enables him to play at and above the rim,” Smith said. “His length and explosiveness should provide us with a defensive playmaker on the perimeter as well.”

The Cardinal’s 2024 recruiting class now includes four players: Batson, six-foot-seven Evan Stinson, six-foot-eight Donavin Young and six-foot-11 Tallis Toure.

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Star pitcher NiJaree Canady enters the transfer portal

Star pitcher NiJaree Canady has decided to enter the transfer portal after two years on the Farm.

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Stanford softball pitcher NiJaree Canady has decided to enter her name in the transfer portal, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Monday is the last day players can enter the portal, which opened on May 17th. 

This past season, Canady was named USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year after leading the nation in ERA and strikeouts. The star pitcher helped lead Stanford to back-to-back Women’s College World Series (WCWS) semi-final appearances in 2023 and 2024. This past postseason, Canady pitched in every WCWS and Super Regional game that the Cardinal played in. 

While Canady could potentially opt to return to Stanford, the Cardinal will likely need to offer a significant NIL package to entice her to stay put. 

If the ace pitcher transfers to a different school, it will be a huge blow for the Cardinal, who struggled to generate offense last year and lack proven pitching depth beyond Canady.

But with a new softball stadium set to be built by 2026, Stanford may need to find another star talent who can attract fans to the seats.

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Against Ambition

There are arguments embedded in the architecture of this campus. What do we give up in the name of ambition?

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titletrimmed
By Grace Carroll

I remember feeling like someone was lifting something very heavy off of me, 

a weight I hadn’t realized I was carrying until it was gone.

It was a hot September day in 2019 and Sam Wineburg, the Margaret Jacks Professor of Education, was walking through White Plaza, running late to his frosh introsem.

What Wineburg hadn’t accounted for that Wednesday was the White Plaza career fair. His usual route was blocked by a swarm of teenagers in cheap blazers, looking sweaty. The blazers hovered particularly around one booth; an L.E.D. sign perched atop it, flashing the quant firm’s six-figure starting analyst salary.

Wineburg walked into his classroom intending to make a brief opening comment about the scene outside. What followed — a tirade against a culture of careerism so blatantly profit-motivated that students were being lured, literally, to flashing salaries like moths to flame — “sort of took on a life of its own,” he recalled recently. It’s known colloquially among some students as “the rant.”

I was one of the frosh sitting in Wineburg’s class that fall. I remember the rant. I remember his voice gathering momentum, the righteous flood of it spilling out the second floor window and pouring down onto the plaza below. I remember feeling slightly astounded, and a little disappointed in myself. But mostly I remember feeling like someone was lifting something very heavy off of me, a weight I hadn’t realized I was carrying until it was gone.

I asked one of my friends from that class, now a graduate student, if he remembers the rant as well as I do. “duhhhh,” he texted back. “that speech basically shaped my life at Stanford.”

Wineburg recently told me that, in the course of the past decade, he’d noticed an unsettling phenomenon among his students: the proliferation of the five-year-plan. “People came in with crib sheets that basically said, ‘I’m on a trajectory that I plotted out when I was 17 and a half years old,” he said. He shook his head. “I thought, how pathetic and how tragic that a group of incredibly talented young people would come in with the blinders you put on a donkey in order to prevent that donkey from going off a path.” I asked Wineburg what he thought was at risk, when you decide who you’re going to be at the age of 17. He didn’t mince words. “What’s at risk is one’s soul.”

Career fairs are a tricky kind of theater: they force us to externalize our ambition, perform it shoulder-to-shoulder with our peers. It’s an incredibly self-conscious endeavor. I walked through the same White Plaza one this fall, in my fifth and final year at Stanford, and I got where Wineburg was coming from. The line at the J.P. Morgan booth was twenty-some frosh strong; the entire education section was empty.

I don’t mean to judge — I remember what it felt like to be a frosh at Stanford, and to wake up everyday and learn a fun new way in which you are inadequate. Self-worth gets slippery fast, and a six-figure salary offers a clear and extrinsic metric for your own value. Your twenties are fluid, volatile and terrifying. Anything that promises to inoculate you against that uncertainty has an inevitable allure. 

It helps nothing that this crisis of identity plays out against the backdrop of Silicon Valley. Stanford, as Wineburg puts it, is “tied with an umbilical cord” to the tech industry. We’ve absorbed not only its capital but also its ethics, values and dreams. 

It wasn’t always this way. When Wineburg was a doctoral candidate at Stanford in the eighties, tech was a presence, “but it wasn’t the amounts of money, it wasn’t the Sandhill Road VCs, it wasn’t going to Coupa and listening to 19-year-olds talk about the app that they’re going to pitch,” he said. “And you’re just thinking, Oh, my God, where am I?”

When I was a frosh I had drive, I had prospects, I had start-up ideas. Strangers raised their eyebrows and murmured wow when I told them where I was going to college. I was going to study politics, or maybe economics, or — fuck it! — computer science. It was February of 2020. And then it was March. You know the rest of the story, from here. 

I left Stanford for the Zoom year and had a strange time. I hiked a lot. I moved to an island. I taught snorkeling lessons. I worked on a booze cruise. I came back to school a year later and found my sense of ambition has been smelted down and entirely recast. Before I’d left Stanford I’d decided on a Symbolic Systems major, which now seemed too abstract and not nearly as useful as driving an anchor into the sea floor. The only thing that still felt worthwhile was writing. I switched to English. 

I’d decided on a Symbolic Systems major, which now seemed too abstract 

and not nearly as useful as driving an anchor into the sea floor.

(I need to pause here and note the layers of privilege implicit in that last paragraph — my ability to do these things depended not only on financial status but on physical health, ability and access. I don’t think we’ve even begun to untangle the chasmic differences in our respective pandemic experiences, and how they may still be subtly shaping our community.)

Any Stanford humanities major can tell you that the average response to your academic trajectory is usually some mix of surprise and condescension.  Poetry, art, music — on first glance, these pursuits violate every Silicon Valley maxim: they move slowly, break nothing, disrupt nothing, pay nothing. They represent the opposite of ambition, at least in the strikingly narrow terms with which we’ve come to define that word. 

Alexander Nemerov, professor of art history, has taught me as much. He described the typical Stanfordian conception of the arts as a “playground” devoid of rigor or severity — good enough for a hobby, but certainly not meant to qualify as your life’s purpose. 

Nemerov teaches a survey class each fall, “Art History 1B.” Lectures often veer from the Impressionist movement to Heidigger and Sarte to the fundamental point of getting out of bed everyday. He understands that many students in his lectures are there to fulfill a requirement and might never take another art history course again. He therefore sees the opportunity to create a space in his classroom where, for once, “we’re not asked to plot our development and our potential and our overall transactability on a graph of economic and social coordinates.” 

I’m drawn to Nemerov’s pedagogy because that is precisely how I feel in front of a canvas: a sense of having stepped, however briefly, beyond the limits of my regular life. And clearly I’m not the only one who feels this way. Course enrollment in 1B is in the hundreds. It’s also a wildly popular class among Distinguished Career Institute (DCI) fellows, a program that brings successful professionals (“successful” almost always implying “high earning”) back to college.

I asked Nemerov why he thinks his classes are so popular among this specific cohort. “As you get older and your time becomes more reduced on earth, you have to think about some things that are important,” he leaned back in his chair and considered this. “I think the logical question that always comes up for me is, why not when one is young?”

“I think the logical question that always comes up for me is,

why not when one is young?”​

Sometimes a piece of writing is so perfect I think we ought to just call it and abandon the genre altogether, the way they retire the jersey numbers of certain athletes. For instance there should be no more “senior reflections” because the best one has already been done by Marina Keegan, who graduated from Yale in 2012. 

At its best, Keegan writes, college feels like “the opposite of loneliness,” a sensation that we don’t have a word for in the English language. At its best, the intensity of our energy and our potential makes college feel like a small universe unto itself, vital and real and all-encompassing. 

I love this essay in part because Keegan vehemently rejects the idea that anyone’s identity or future is truly fixed at college graduation. “We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old,” she wrote. “We have so much time.” What makes her rhetorically untouchable is that she is at once right and unfathomably wrong: Two days after she graduated, she was killed in a car crash. 

The summer I turned twenty-two I was living in upstate New York, in a big house in the woods with three friends and approximately 60 bats. I did not get any of the internships I’d applied for that summer, not the one at the Post or the one at the Journal or the one at the Chronicle or that very well-regarded fellowship. Instead I got an operations job at the Northeast branch of a big wilderness school, which mostly entailed driving 15-passenger vans around the backwoods of Vermont for minimum wage. 

On my birthday, in August, our branch director called an emergency staff meeting. A student on a backpacking course in Wyoming had been struck by lightning. The instructors tried their best to save his life. He was twenty-two. 

Izzy and Roísín went back to the staff house early to bake me a birthday cake. After dinner we drank whiskey and walked to the river. There’s a spot across Keese Mill Road where the St. Regis bends to the left, and an old rope swing hangs from a high embankment. It was past dark; the pines cut black silhouettes into the indigo night. Under the cover of the star-freckled sky the water was the color of dark wine. I swung out, out, out over its surface and let myself fall. 

So certainty is impossible, in the end. It turns out we don’t get to know when the car will crash or the lightning will strike. This is an unpleasant truth to consider for too long; the only decent language for it is poetry. Mary Oliver calls it “your wild and precious life.” Annie Dillard calls it “our few live seasons.” But, as W.H. Auden put it, poetry makes nothing happen — unlike consulting firms, which do something unfathomably important, which no one really seems able to explain to me. Why not when one is young? 

Nemerov once told me that a Van Gogh painting, with its flurries and eddies of color, is not quite happy; he contends that the feeling you see reverberating through a wheatfield or swirling in the cosmos is joy. And joy, he clarified, “is something that enfolds darkness, and is experienced in spite of that darkness, and is a pleasure that is not naive.” 

In the last five years I’ve developed something of a pathological attachment to the Dish. Running the loop in moments of stress or crisis became a habit after a calamitous Econ midterm frosh year, a habit which persists to this day. 

There’s a point on the trail’s easternmost ridge where, just as you begin to descend through the dry golden brush and into the twisting oaks, Stanford’s entire campus sprawls out below you like a lego miniature. Whenever I reach this vantage now I think about something Christian Gonzalez-Ho — a Ph.D. candidate in art history, who also happens to be an architect, and my former 1B teaching assistant — told me recently: Stanford is built like a motherboard. 

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Stanford from above. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

“Most of the East Coast schools have this Jewel-Box architecture,” Gonzalez-Ho explained, pointing to buildings like Yale’s Beinecke library — structures which impose and impress, shaping the rest of the campus around their singularity. “At Stanford, it’s so contiguous, as to be a very well fit machine in which all the things are running like cogs.” 

That machine includes us, biking about our days, ants among the cogs. When Gonzalez-Ho told me this I felt at once enlightened and a little sad. That pervasive, unceasing sense of motion? That relentless urge towards doing, earning, founding, achieving? I’m not imagining it. It is the very current of this campus, baked into the sandstone. It’s inevitable, inescapable. Every errant sunbeam argues towards it.

I hope this metaphor doesn’t reveal how little I know about motherboards. All I’m trying to say, to the frosh in line at the J.P. Morgan booth, is pay attention to the arguments in the architecture. There are entire markets and industries and powerful people interested in making you mistake your self-worth for your earning potential; notice their propaganda, whether it’s as obvious as a flashing salary or as subliminal as that weird pressure on your shoulders that never seems to go away. Why not when one is young?

All I’m trying to say, to the frosh in line at the J.P. Morgan booth,

is pay attention to the arguments in the architecture.

Nemerov told me students often come to him crying, embarrassed by their perceived lack of professional success. He described what he called an “embargo on happiness” at work within Stanford’s culture: a tacit understanding that the needs of the world and the imperatives to succeed are too urgent for something as frivolous and cheap as joy. 

I asked Nemerov if he had a sense of how we got here. “I think it’s the ideological and technocratic capturing of our very hearts, so that we can be engineered into ever more productive and profitable vehicles for wealth, and — of course, always — the betterment of the world,” he said. I pointed out how strange it was that the betterment of the world had become implicitly conflated with the consolidation of personal capital. “Well, of course,” he replied. “If you strip that moral basis from it, it’s just greed.” 

When I arrived at college, I arrived with a very sure story about the world and how I fit into it. I’m beginning to think that the real value of a college education is the slow undoing of your most firmly-held truths. I am not old. But I am not quite as young anymore. And one of the greatest lessons Stanford has taught me is how bad most people are at knowing what makes them happy. The dissonance between what we want and what we think we want is astounding, and too often I see my friends make choices out of fear but call it ambition. We are so young. We are so hungry. The impossible question is, for what? 

When I was eighteen I knew what I wanted. I knew I would become the editor of The Daily. I knew I would graduate in four years and get the fellowship at the Times. Maybe I’d have a book deal by now, or my own media start-up, or my first Pulitzer nomination. I’d have a robust LinkedIn presence and people would continue to raise their eyebrows and murmur wow when I talked about myself at dinner parties and then I would be happy. 

I have absolutely none of that. It’s possible frosh-year-me would be horrified by this outcome. What I would like to tell her — and what I will tell you instead — is that you have the rest of your life to win prizes. They lead you towards loneliness, not away from it. But you have one specific chance to be nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two. 

I’d have a robust LinkedIn presence

and people would continue to raise their eyebrows

and murmur wow when I talked about myself at dinner parties 

and then I would be happy.

Stanford has been a gift and a privilege, one that I certainly don’t deserve, and my gratitude for this place is very real. But when I consider the last five years of my life, it looks nothing like a good resume. It looks like that night Izzy and I drove to Montreal and talked our way into a sold-out concert. It looks like the day Anna and I moved into our island apartment, where you could see the ocean from the porch; that first sunset, a symphony of orange so loud I could almost hear it. It looks like a rainy Sunday in Manhattan, that one Klimt painting in the Neue Gallery. It looks like that night at Walter’s bar; that afternoon at Cane Bay; the day Will proposed to Eloise; the day Dan proposed to Ally; that night in the canyon; pre-dawn in Utah; the sunrise from the summit of Halls; that ocean rainstorm while we were spearfishing; the dive off the wall, where the seafloor gives out, and it’s blue all the way down. 

This is all I have to offer. Not medals but handfuls of glittering junk. Scraps of color and texture, worth nothing, still priceless. 

Against Ambition

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Letter from the Board | On our reporter’s arrest

The Daily will continue to be guided by the highest professional and ethical standards, including in how it prepares its student journalists to cover fast-paced campus protests in the future.

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The Stanford Daily thanks President Saller and Provost Martinez for reinstating our reporter, Dilan Gohill ’27, and for revoking his suspension. In light of the University’s decision, we now ask the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office to decline pursuing criminal charges against Dilan, which would be plainly unfounded.

To be clear, Dilan appeared at the June 5 demonstration solely as a reporter covering the demonstration. Bearing and presenting valid press identification at all times, Dilan did not participate in or plan the demonstration. He had no prior knowledge of any plans to enter Building 10, entered only to report the news, and was unable to leave once barricaded inside by the demonstrators who entered it first.

That another student formerly affiliated with The Daily participated in the June 6 demonstration had no bearing on The Daily’s and Dilan’s role covering it. Our reporters received a tip about the demonstration from an organizer, not this other student who participated in the demonstration without The Daily’s knowledge or permission. The Daily immediately demoted that student, who later resigned after a conversation with editorial leadership. The Daily takes no position on her standing with the University, or in any penal action brought against her.

Independent student journalism benefits the entire Stanford community, and The Daily takes seriously its role upholding the highest professional and ethical standards. The Daily will continue to be guided by these standards, including in how it prepares its student journalists to cover fast-paced campus protests in the future.

Kaushikee Nayudu, Editor in Chief 

Emma Talley and Jessica Zhu, Executive Editors

The Stanford Daily Board of Directors 

Friends of The Stanford Daily Foundation

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Fred again.. takes on Frost again and again..

The musician mixed an exclusive track for Frost and dedicated songs to friends and family in three performances last week. The concerts had electrifying music but underwhelming audience energy, write dePierre and Ye.

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Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.

English record producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist Fred again.. performed to a sold-out Frost Amphitheater on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Each night, the 30-year-old’s multi-genre set featured a selection of his biggest house hits along with some surprises, such as a mix made especially for Frost and a few stripped-down vocal performances. 

Canadian singer Leif Vollebekk opened for Fred again.. for all three shows, performing a set of acoustic indie rock songs as audience members filed into the amphitheater. Fred again.. had mentioned on his Instagram story earlier in the week how much he enjoyed Vollebekk’s music and how stoked he was that the latter agreed to perform. 

Though the opening set was great, Vollebekk reminded me more of an artist who’d open for the English band Coldplay, as his music was much more mellow and poppy than the rave tracks presented by Fred again.. Despite this disparity in musical style, the musicians demonstrated great appreciation for one another’s talent. Before the main act, Vollebekk thanked the crowd and shared that they were in for a treat, praising Fred again.. as “amazing” to work with and see perform.

On Wednesday, Fred again.. took the stage around an hour and a half after the show’s 7 p.m. start time, performing an instrumental and vocal-heavy rendition of “Kyle (i found you)” followed by “Angie (i’ve been lost).” Red and blue lights illuminated the stage while video snippets played in the background, depicting the artist’s life with family and friends. The stage effects added a personal touch while staying true to Fred again..’s branding, and drew audience members in to take pictures and videos of the scene.

The artist then transitioned into more upbeat dance tracks that had the entire crowding moving and chanting, with some favorites including “Jungle,” “leavemealone” and a remix of “Chanel” by Frank Ocean. Fred again.. danced across the stage, moving with ease from one keyboard in the middle of the stage to another located on the right-hand side. He also debuted a song mixed specifically for the Frost performances, which featured live keyboard and vocals as well as a unique background synth track.

The musician’s enthusiasm for performing was palpable on stage, and he paused several times throughout his performances to acknowledge the size of the crowd and his gratitude for them, asking them to turn their phone lights on and sing along to parts of the show at various points.

Another highlight of the performance occurred when Fred again.. moved from the stage to the middle of Frost to perform on a platform surrounded by fans on the steps of the amphitheater. Those in the pit turned around to face him, and fans toward the back and center seemed excited to get such a close-up experience with the performer. This part of the performance was when the crowd felt the most engaged — but even then, many audience members seemed more interested in their phones than the DJ himself.

During his set on Wednesday, Fred again.. took a moment to acknowledge two special guests in the crowd, his 5 and 7-year-old cousins Maya and Lila, who had come down from the San Francisco area to see him perform. On Thursday, he similarly acknowledged his sister Georgie. He then dedicated the next song, “adore u,” to them and asked the crowd to give them a warm welcome. Throughout the show, he gave shout-outs to his DJ and right-hand man Tony Friend, a former member of the British rock band Modestep who performed alongside Fred again.. and mixed tracks live all night long.

Fred again.. concluded his Wednesday show with two of his most popular tracks, “Delilah (pull me out of this)” and “Billie (loving arms),” which were met with the most energy from the crowd that night. As he walked off the stage to the crowd repeatedly singing the chorus line of “Billie,” Fred again.. expressed his love for his fans but insisted on no encore. On Thursday, he concluded with the same two tracks with strong beats that pulsed through my body. I felt a large smile spreading across my face, the music bringing me back to a time when I had these songs on repeat when going through a difficult time last year. 

While the performance certainly featured incredible house music and energy from Fred again.., the energy of the crowd last week felt a bit flat, given the size of the audience and the hype leading up to the show. Nevertheless, Fred again..’s spontaneous three-night appearance at Stanford served for many students as a last hurrah, “pulling them out” of the stress from finals week before the end of the school year.

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It’s time to say goodbye to ‘Hello’

The Stanford Public Art committee hosted a farewell celebration for the iconic statue, nicknamed "The Churro" by students, at Meyer Green on Thursday. The snake-like statue will be replaced with a new installation next fall.

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On Thursday, the Stanford Public Art Committee hosted the event “Goodbye, ‘Hello’” to commemorate the de-installation of the looming, 15-foot tall sculpture by Xu Zhen at Meyer Green. Alia Farid’s sculpture “Amulets” will replace the twisted Corithinian column next fall as part of the Stanford Plinth Project.

Affectionately dubbed the “churro” by students, the “Hello” sculpture is the first work in the Stanford Plinth Project, a rotating public series of long-term, temporary commissions displayed at Meyer Green. The Plinth Project rotates works to keep up the timeliness and dynamism of public artwork on campus for the community to engage with.

Last Thursday’s event featured live performances by student groups, including the a cappella group Everyday People and the social dance club Swingtime. While event organizers originally planned to offer free churros in honor of the statue’s nickname, the churro machine experienced technical difficulties that prevented them from being served, although onlookers could still enjoy free lemonade.  

Wesley Larlarb ’25, a member of Everyday People, believes their performance helped create a “lighthearted” vibe to celebrate the statue’s oddly endearing nature. The group sang harmonious and mellow songs, including “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys.

“We just wanted nothing that was too overly serious,” explained Larlarb, who likes the statue partly because it looks “kind of goofy.”

According to Zhen’s artist statement for the statue, “Hello” is intended to “[fuse] together the classical Greek column shape and the snake’s aggressive biological attitude to stimulate viewers’ perceptions and experiences of classic civilization.”

However, the statue was initially met with mixed reactions from students when it was installed in 2022. Henry Tian ’27 found “Hello” intimidating when he first came on campus, interpreting it as a giant worm rather than a column or a churro.

“I thought it was a bit spooky,” Tian said. “It’s very imposing with the big worm head looming over you.”

Yet Tian expressed sadness over the statue’s removal, saying he now believes it looks “iconic.” He expressed his hope that the Plinth’s next statue will be able to “walk in its footsteps [and] live up to the legacy” of “Hello.”

Zara Thomas ’26 sounded her approval for the Public Art Committee’s decision to rotate through temporary public artworks. 

“I think it’s kind of sad when the art goes, but it’s cool to be able to experience a lot of different types of art,” she said.

Fahrid’s “Amulets” sculpture, which will replace “Hello,” aims to continue the original statue’s theme of blending contemporary and ancient art forms. The piece, which will consist of two large-scale amulets made of polyester resin and blue faience, seeks to highlight Mesopotamian history and comment on modern environmental degradation and mineral extraction in Iraq.

According to the Stanford Report, the artwork was chosen based on its “formal beauty” and the relevance of its environmental themes to the Bay Area.

Deborah Cullinan, vice president for the arts and co-chair of the Public Art Committee, wrote that commissioning outdoor public artwork enhances the cultural engagement of the Stanford community, allowing onlookers to ponder on the “time and place” of the sculpture.

“Selecting works that resonate with campus research, community interests and the zeitgeist of a moment are meaningful for the campus community that sees it daily and for the visitor,” Cullinan wrote.

Stanford collaborated with James Cohan gallery, which represents Xu, to display “Hello” at Meyer Green. The sculpture will be returned to the gallery once it is de-installed this summer.

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Cameron Brink Selected to 3×3 Olympic Team

On Wednesday, three-time Stanford All-American and Los Angeles Sparks rookie Cameron Brink was named to the 2024 USA Basketball 3×3 Women’s National Team, which will compete at the 2024 Olympic Games Paris. Brink will play alongside Cierra Burdick, Rhyne Howard and Hailey Van Lith. The four athletes played together in the FIBA 3×3 Women’s Series […]

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On Wednesday, three-time Stanford All-American and Los Angeles Sparks rookie Cameron Brink was named to the 2024 USA Basketball 3×3 Women’s National Team, which will compete at the 2024 Olympic Games Paris.

Brink will play alongside Cierra Burdick, Rhyne Howard and Hailey Van Lith. The four athletes played together in the FIBA 3×3 Women’s Series Springfield Stop.

Brink was named MVP of the 2023 FIBA 3×3 Women’s World Cup in Vienna, Austria after leading the USA to win gold. 

3×3 basketball emerged as an Olympic event in 2021, when the USA’s Kelsey Plum, Stefanie Dolson, Jackie Young, and Allisha Gray won gold in Tokyo.

3×3 is played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock and a 10-minute game clock. There is continuous play, as teams “clear” the ball behind the 2-point line following a made basket, defensive rebound or steal. The first team to score 21 points by 1-point field goals or 2-pointers behind the arc is victorious; or if time expires, the team leading wins.

The 3×3 basketball competition for the Olympic Games is set for July 30 – August 5 at Place de la Concorde.

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NCAA Outdoor Championships: Whittaker sweeps 800 and Willis takes second

Before the race, all eyes were on LSU's Michaela Rose, the No. 2 all-time 800 meters runner in NCAA history. Whittaker and Willis ran a calculated race and showed that they were the ones to watch instead.

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Sophomore middle-distance runners Juliette Whittaker and Roisin Willis finished 1-2 in the women’s 800 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships last Saturday.  

Whittaker, who won the women’s indoor 800 meters in March, completed an indoor-outdoor sweep and set a Stanford outdoor record after running a time of 1:59.61. Willis clocked a 2:00.17, marking her collegiate outdoor best and the No. 3 time in Stanford outdoor history.  

This was not the first time Whittaker and Willis went 1-2 at the national championships. As freshmen at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Willis won the 800 meters and Whittaker came in a close second. 

“It’s one thing to work hard and succeed by yourself, but it’s another thing to turn around and see your teammate also succeed, and be able to celebrate in that,” Whittaker said. 

“It’s been an incredible past two years,” Whittaker said about her partnership with Willis. “Obviously, training with her is amazing. But just being around her… she’s given me a new perspective and hope in life that I feel has really been special.” 

Before the race, all eyes were on LSU’s Michaela Rose, the No. 2 all-time 800 meters runner in NCAA history. Whittaker and Willis ran a calculated race and showed that they were the ones to watch instead.

Approaching the final turn, Whittaker was positioned behind Rose’s shoulder while Willis was boxed in. In the final stretch, Whittaker passed Rose and Willis kicked her way up from seventh to second. Rose ended in fourth. 

“I was expecting Michaela to take it out, and I was shocked that no one really wanted to take it,” said Whittaker after the race.

“Coming around the corner I felt good, but with 50 meters to go, I felt myself pulling away.”

Saturday was a family affair for Whittakers, as Whittaker’s sister, Isabella from the University of Pennsylvania, placed fifth, with a personal best 50.17 in the 400 final. 

With her record time, Whittaker is now the No. 8 performer with the No. 11 performance in collegiate outdoor history.

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Stanford reinstates standardized testing requirements

The University announced that standardized testing will become required again for the Class of 2030. The last class that required standardized testing is the Class of 2024.

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Stanford will resume requiring standardized testing — either the SAT or ACT — for undergraduate admission, starting with students who apply in fall 2025 for admission to the Class of 2030, the University announced in the Stanford Report Friday morning. 

The University will remain test-optional students applying in fall 2024 for admission to the Class of 2029 to provide “all students enough lead time to plan and prepare for testing.”

According to findings from a review by the faculty Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid, “performance on standardized tests is an important predictor of academic performance at Stanford.”

The University paused its testing requirement in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic because of limited access to testing, beginning with students applying to the Class of 2025. Since the decision, undergraduate applicants have been allowed to submit test scores but are not required to do so.  

A number of colleges and universities have elected to bring back required standardized testing requirements, including Harvard, Yale and the public university system in Florida. The University of California system, however, permanently eliminated standardized test requirements.

Stanford practices holistic admission in which all parts of an applicant’s application are considered, not only test scores or grades. In the process, “academic potential is the primary criterion for admission.”

Students previously expressed support for optional standardized testing. “I feel like personality, your intersectionality and identity is so much more important than just a test score,” Leonardo Daniels ’25 told The Daily in 2021.

The University referred to the Stanford Report announcement upon request for comment.

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Stanford to make postbaccalaureate opportunities more accessible to athletes

Stanford athletics is currently spearheading efforts to make post-baccalaureate opportunities more accessible to student-athletes.

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Stanford Athletics is attempting to make existing postbaccalaureate opportunities more approachable to athletes, wrote Executive Associate Athletics Director Carter Henderson in a statement to The Daily.


“This spring, efforts were begun to make existing postbaccalaureate opportunities more accessible to athletes,” Henderson wrote. “These opportunities are designed to help qualified students who have completed a bachelor’s degree take advantage of opportunities to prepare themselves for future graduate study opportunities.”

Postbaccalaureate programs are designed to be completed after an undergraduate degree and to support the transition to graduate school. This move could help Stanford increase its transfer portal activity, as graduate athletic transfers will have an alternative route to attend the university other than enrolling in graduate school.  

The Cardinal have increased their transfer portal activity in a variety of sports. The women’s basketball program got its first two undergraduate transfers since 2002, and the men’s basketball program received four players from the transfer portal this year.

This effort by the athletics department could significantly increase the number of transfers that Stanford can accept in the coming years.

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Protesters who occupied president’s office receive felony charges

Thirteen individuals, including 12 protesters and a Daily reporter, were charged with felony burglary after being detained by police on Wednesday. Students were suspended and banned from campus for the rest of the quarter.

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Thirteen individuals, including 12 protesters and a Daily reporter, who were detained by the Stanford Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) and the County Sheriff’s Office, were charged with felony burglary. Protesters barricaded themselves inside the president and provost’s office, located in Building 10 in Main Quad, early Wednesday morning.

Students were suspended and banned from campus for the rest of the quarter until June 12, as the University processes disciplinary referrals to the Office of Community Standards (OCS). Any who are seniors will not be allowed to graduate. Bail for arrested individuals was set to $20,000.

Several protesters and the Daily reporter were released on bail Wednesday night. They were detained for approximately 15 hours.

After entering the building at around 5:30 a.m., protesters blocked doors and windows with bike locks, chains, ladders and chairs and covered security cameras with tin foil. No administrators or staff were present inside when protesters entered. They occupied the office for under two hours before they were removed by SUDPS and escorted away in vans. 

The group, who said they planned to stay in the building until demands were met or they were forcibly removed, demanded three actions by the University: to add the divestment bill submitted by Stanford Against Apartheid in Palestine (SAAP) to the next Board of Trustees meeting with a recommendation of support from President Richard Saller, to commit to financial disclosure from the previous fiscal year (2022) including endowment investments and to drop all disciplinary and criminal charges against pro-Palestine students at Stanford.

The protesters are part of an autonomous group of Stanford students unaffiliated with any voluntary student organization (VSO), according to organizers.

Protesters who entered the building said they were prepared to be arrested. An organizer “stated that they’re making an informed decision and that this is something that they feel inclined to do because of the sense of urgency,” a spokesperson for the group told The Daily. She requested anonymity due to fear of retaliation.

The University condemned the actions of protesters. Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez wrote they were “appalled and deeply saddened” in a letter circulated to the Stanford community Wednesday morning.

Oriana Riley contributed reporting.

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Between the Black and White: Green light

In the final installment of her column of the volume, Rosina Lin examines her antagonistic relationship with sleep

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You are the magic attacker of sleep, like a green light that shines through the dark.

Laying in the bed, you fight with sleep all the time. You turn off the light, slip into your quilt, and close your eyes. Darkness, the ally of sleep, stands still in front of you. You call your allies: red, yellow, purple, orange, blue, and pink. After three seconds, they all arrive and one by one leap into darkness and pop it, clashing with each other, slowly spreading and transforming into different lines and shapes, pushing the darkness into the background. 

In another second, however, you turn to your left side, and darkness surrounds you again, in a more rounded and almost ripple-like shape. For a moment, you think that it is actually quite cute, and there is no immediate harm in leaving it alone just for a night. Green light could coexist with darkness, right? Minutes pass as the darkness peacefully guards its place. 

Boom! A sharp image from your childhood of you eating a strawberry ice cream suddenly breaks the peace, and darkness shakes and twists, trying to regain its balance, as it zigzags in front of you, almost in a proud and arrogant manner. Woohoooo. Agitated by this, you could no longer hold the darkness back. Sprinkle onto it, and you slice the darkness into thin fragments, as you shake your head and turn it to the other side. Darkness is defeated.

Sleep, however, has another ally: quietness. Quietness is far more resilient than darkness. It does not make a fuss nor hide or sneak upon you. It only waits, for you, for time, for everything. You do not want to target it either, as it might refuse to engage in a direct conflict with you. Rather, it prefers torturing and slowly wearing you out, as it did with all your other allies — music, water kettle, footsteps… 

Observing quietness for a while, you decide to leave it and wait too. The greedy quietness starts to occupy all of your mind and body, shrouding out all the other sounds. No, like a green light, you would break it. You take a deep breath, and summon your new allies. Pom, pom. The sound of keys turning when your parents come home. Tick, tick. The sound of your alarm clock doing its job. Cutting through quietness, they frighten it with their almightiness and it dodges and creeps into every hole and corner possible. You could never catch it, however, as it runs too fast and could hide anywhere. As a result, you could only sharpen your green light, and wait to cut it if it comes out. You know where it is hiding, but you can’t get in as you can’t pour it out of your ears. All you could do is stare at sleep, and constantly play with your ears.

Eventually, both of you are exhausted. Sleep negotiates to cease-fire with you by retrieving all its allies, and yours. You are burnt-out and are almost without battery, but with utmost loyalty and self-pride, you refuse. You are waiting for your last ally, the first beam of dawn. 

Gasping, anticipating… It finally is here, slipping in through the window. You, the magic attacker of sleep, gain power again and defeat sleep, dazzling your green light.

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‘Somber applause’: Stanford experts, students consider Trump’s felony conviction

Former President Donald Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts last Thursday. Though professors note that public opinion is unlikely to shift, some students see the conviction as an indication of governmental institutions working, while others express concern at the breakdown of trust in these institutions.

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Former President Donald Trump was convicted last Thursday on 34 felony counts associated with orchestrated hush money payments that occurred prior to the 2016 presidential election. 

Trump is now the first former American president to be convicted of felony crimes. A 12-person jury in New York arrived at a guilty verdict after a day and a half of deliberations following a five-week trial. Stanford professors and students spoke with The Daily on the political implications of this unprecedented event.

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 with potential punishments ranging from fines and restitution to probation and imprisonment. Despite his felon status, there is no rule banning Trump from his ongoing bid for re-election. The U.S. Constitution stipulates only three requirements for eligibility: being a natural-born American citizen, being at least 35 years old and living in the United States for at least 14 years. 

If Trump is able to continue his presidential run from prison, he would not be the first candidate to do so. Although unsuccessful in the race, Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs ran for president from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in 1920. Debs had been given a 10-year sentence for sedition, after condemning the United States’ involvement in World War I. 

Morris P. Fiorina, professor of political science and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, wrote in an email to The Daily that polling shows minimal change in support following the conviction. 

“Trump had a lot to gain from an acquittal or hung jury — that would have supported his claim that the trial was a political hit job — but not a lot to lose,” Fiorina wrote. 

According to Fiorina, although Trump might lose a few voters, they “might be offset by a few [undecided voters] or weak Biden voters wanting to say f— you to the New York Times and CNN.” 

Jack Rakove, professor emeritus of political science, said that “the idea that [Trump] is finally being held to account is itself a massive achievement,” with Trump being a “uniquely destructive figure in American history.” Rakove went on to maintain that for the upcoming election, his “position is to predict nothing.”  

Dylan Vergara ’26, who studies political science and has previously worked at the U.S. Congress and Department of Justice, said that many Stanford students seem to be reacting to Trump’s conviction with “somber applause.”

Although Vergara said it was “somber” for a former president to be convicted of fraud, he applauded “the system in terms of the institutions working.”

Vergara also expressed worry that this event will further disillusion young voters, potentially reducing their turnout at the polls because of two unfavorable candidates.

Cameron Krouch ’25 — who grew up in Texas, whose electorates went to Trump in 2016 and 2020 — said he purchased a copy of the New York Times to commemorate Trump’s conviction.

Krouch said he was raised in a household that emphasized the strength of the American dream and American institutions. He criticized some Republicans’ characterization of Trump’s verdict as “unfair.”

“I find it very sad — the breakdown of the sort of institutional trust that we’ve seen from Jan. 6 to the distrust in the Supreme Court, to the distrust in a jury of 12 everyday Americans who are willing to put themselves at the risk of political violence to judge the law impartially,” Krouch said.

Among the mixed reactions was a through line of the event’s unprecedented nature.

“Either way you cut it, it’s a historical moment,” Krouch said.

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