Tag Archives: academia

(Queer) Activism at Stanford University

by Lina Schmidt, ’15

screenshot of survey
What is queer? and what does queer want? were two questions asked over the course of the class “Introduction to Queer Studies” (FEMST 120). Questions about what queer “means” are important to me because, as both a queer-identified individual and as a member of the campus group Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, parts of my identity are implicated in use of the word. The  meanings of queer can be a scholarly pursuit. However, the placement of queer in the title of a student group committed to “social change” makes its meanings relevant to the entire Stanford community, regardless of academic focus.

Described as a “discursive horizon” (Queer Theory 1), queer is fluid; a site of connotation rather than denotation. As a result, writings about queer — “Queer Theory” — are sometimes contradictory. The goal in reading, however, is not to produce a consistent worldview but to challenge entrenched ideas. For example, Annamarie Jagose suggests that 0ne use of queer is as an umbrella term for non-normative identities, serving as a contraction of “LGBTQIA.” Another writer, Cathy J. Cohen, suggests that queer has a more “radical potential” through its inclusivity not just of non-normative sexuality, but of differences in race, class, physical ability, and more (Punks 11-16). Continue reading

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Classes Related to Peace and Justice at Stanford, Spring Quarter 2013

by Cole Manley, ’15

peace studiesIn 1985, a Peace Studies Task Force comprised of faculty and students compiled a list of over 100 courses at Stanford that related to peace. Such is the nature of the field of peace studies that there can be tens of courses related to peace and justice even without a peace studies minor or major. While there are hundreds of peace studies, peace and conflict studies, and peace and justice minors and majors across the United States and around the world, there has never been a peace studies program at Stanford. At UC Berkeley, Brandeis University, American University, the University of Notre Dame, and many other notable schools, peace and justice are studied in a structured, meaningful way, with dedicated faculty, administrators, and graduates. Yet even though the Task Force’s efforts at expanding peace curricula at Stanford did not result in a minor or major, there remain many courses which relate to peace and justice issues.

In 2012, I conducted a preliminary study similar to that of the Task Force. Continue reading

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A Breakup Letter to Stanford University

by Alok Vaid-Menon, ’13

you are eighteen — give or take a few
shots of espresso and one night stands —
and you are sandwiched in the backseat
of the car with the six suitcases you somehow convinced your mother
to let you pack for college — let’s call it,
being upfront to your roommate that you are
coming with baggage

and you never were one for cliches, but you felt
part of something bigger than yourself,
your parents — called it “becoming an adult”
but you called it staying out past your bedtime dancing
called it holding his hand on the street,
called it safe, and sometimes even
freedom

Continue reading

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Nepantlera

by Aracely Mondragon, ’13

"Nepantlera" – Celia Herrera Rodriguez

quedan 4 minutos con 36 segundos en esta llamada

The process of calling my ‘ama
Acaso no vivo en esa llamada?
esperando desde el otro lado
viviendo en mi fantasía
que tengo alas y vuelo
muy pero muy cerca del sol
adonde abro mis colores
que bailo
con la mujer de libertad
prentendiendola
hasta cruzar su mirada
y otras más frías
hay a quienes
les molesta
todo mi revoloteo
me quieren enjaular
convertir mi jardin en invierno
y cuando eso pasa
solo sueño
que vuelo sur
y allí vuelvo a nacer Continue reading

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My Summer in Cape Town: Or I’m Sorry for Using You

by Alok Vaid-Menon, ’13

They will ask you
Whether your project can inflict ‘harm’
And you will respond: “minor discomfort” to expedite the review process

Her name is Cym,
And the arc of her smile mirrors her painted eyebrows,
On Mondays she asks you what you did over the weekend.
You do not tell her.
You are guilty of the conversion rate, how you can afford a club, a skin, a language that she never will.
She wants to know what it feels like to live in America
If you have a handsome boyfriend there who will buy you dinner sometimes

In your field research class they will teach you about the importance of obtaining consent.

Cym cannot sign your form
So she communicates with the earnesty of hazel eyes Continue reading

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Kristian Bailey on ‘Reports from Palestine’

by Kristian Bailey, ’14

Using Storify, Kristian Bailey provides readers with his take on a recent presentation by professors Angela Davis and Gina Dent. Kristian saw the two speak on the subject of Palestine, and shares the following account of their reflections on a visit to Palestine earlier this year.

View the story “Angela Davis & Gina Dent: ‘Reports from Palestine’ – Martha’s Vineyard 2012” on Storify

Continue reading

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How to Occupy Your Education

by Holly Fetter, ’13

When I tell people that I’m studying race and ethnicity, I get one of two reactions. The first, undoubtedly inspired by my pale skin, is the inevitable “Why did you decide to major in that?” The second comes from a more practical perspective: “What are you going to do with that?”

It seems that the dominant perception of a college degree is that is must be lucrative. It’s fine to use one’s undergraduate years to experiment with new hairstyles, narcotics, and sexual orientations, but the end result must be a good shot at a six-figure salary. College is only “worth it” if you gain some marketable skills.

As soon as I declared my love for interdisciplinary thinking, I felt that I had to make a decision — would I major in Econ and be ushered into Stanford’s college-to-consulting pipeline, or shun that world in favor of classes in which I could write about queer rappers and racist Halloween costumes? I entered sophomore year with a notion that these were two divergent tracks, and that it was imperative that I pick one over the other lest I spend my post-graduate years in some sad, unemployable limbo.

I think this dynamic helps explain the infamous Stanford apathy. Embedded in our campus culture is the notion that pursuing a pre-professional major and getting an activist education are mutually exclusive acts. Continue reading

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A Few Thoughts on Intelligence

by Sibel Sayiner, ’14

Disclaimer: most of this was produced while talking to my dog.

When I tell people I go to Stanford, often the first comment they make is, “Oh, you must be smart, then, right?”

This statement fundamentally bothers me. While I have come, over the years, to accept and admit that I’m “smart,” whatever that means, it’s frustrating that intelligence by itself too often is assumed to be enough to bring one success: being intelligent is considered mutually exclusive of having to work hard.

I’ve known many successful people, at Stanford and high school. Some people can do well on an exam without studying because the material comes naturally to them. Other people can do just as well, if not better, by working hard. I like to think I work hard. I’ve spent evenings on weekends working on papers and plan my days around what I need to get done. My academic “success” (which is another essay on its own) should cause one to assume more about my hard work than my intelligence. Unfortunately, society assumes the opposite. Continue reading

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