Tag Archives: Stanford University

Valarie Kaur’s Baccalaureate Address to the Class of 2013

by Valarie Kaur, ’03

On June 15th, 2013, alumna Valarie Kaur, gave the Baccalaureate Address to the Stanford Class of 2013. Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate and interfaith organizer, and this is what she had to say:

President Hennessy, Dean McLennan, professors and staff, family and friends, and the Class of 2013, it is a profound gift for me to return to Stanford to address you. Ten years ago, when I stood in this spot to deliver the student address, I believed what they always tell us on graduation day – that your Stanford education empowers to change the world, that we are the ones we have been waiting for. But what they don’t tell us in college is just how dangerous the journey might be and what that courage might cost.

So I could tell you the story of how I found my passion in a classroom in the Main Quad right over there, or how I snuck a raft onto Lake Lag in the middle of the night, or how I survived SLE [Stanford’s Structured Liberal Education program].

But the story I must tell you today begins in crisis. Continue reading

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Why Peace, Justice, and Nonviolence Studies is Possible at Stanford and How You Can (and Must!) Help

by Cole Manley, ’15

Over the past year, I have written a variety of articles about peace studies for a variety of publications and groups, from STATIC to the United Campus Christian Ministry (UCCM). In my last article, I laid out the many courses that related to peace and justice at Stanford. But this is not enough. Not nearly enough.

Leenda Gonzalez, a Stanford student in the early 1980s involved in the effort to generate peace studies courses back then, said in 1985 that ““There is a notion running around the hallowed halls of Stanford that could kill you. This notion suggests that peace is extracurricular.” Today, the hallowed halls are still here, and peace is largely still extracurricular.

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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Our Twilight: Review of “Twilight of the Elites” by Christopher Hayes

by Lewis Marshall, PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering

America is not a Christian nation.

But America is a nation of faith.

In Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes (of Up With fame) explains that America has faith, more than anything else, in systems of meritocracy: systems in which people gain power, not due to birthright or personal connection, or appearance, but because of their skills. Are you good at your job? If so, you should be promoted. And if you stop working, if you stop improving, if you fall behind, someone hungrier and sharper and more skilled should take your place. We have built this idea into our educational system, our economic system, and our government. In American mythology, meritocracy is both salvation and moral obligation.

So when Twilight opens with the line, “America feels broken,” it’s disheartening. Hayes recounts the disappointments of the last dozen years: Enron, the Iraq war, the housing bubble, the great recession, pedophiles sheltered in the Catholic church and at Penn State, the failed response to hurricane Katrina. Has meritocracy failed? Have we failed to live up to our ideal?[1]

Twilight of the Elites doesn’t address the day-to-day politicking that led to these failures. Instead, Hayes creates a theory to encompass the whole broken decade: The Iron Law of Meritocracy. Continue reading

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Equality is not Justice

by members of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL)

We are the group of students responsible for the “equality is not justice” flyers last week. Because we are interested in both raising awareness and increasing understanding, we collaborated on a brief summary of each topic listed on the posters.

This article is meant to be shared! However, it is not meant to be the last word on any of the topics below: our foremost goal is to encourage discussion within the Stanford community.

Interested in continuing the conversation? Please consider submitting your ideas to STATIC!

Fear is not governance
Here, we are referring to the illusion that control is gained through fear or fear tactics and, furthermore, that legitimate government rule can be claimed when the majority of the population lives in a state of fear. Moreover, we are addressing the fact that fear is a tactic utilized by the United States, whether conscious or unconscious. Consider, for example, the reaction you have when you see a police officer. Are you afraid or comforted? Why? Also consider jails, which – though they seem to promise safety – are also an implicit threat by the state.

Apathy is not neutral
When we say that apathy is not neutral, we mean that – in many cases – apathy is a privilege. When we choose not to educate ourselves or to do nothing, it is with the knowledge that our lives will not be adversely affected – and not everybody is in such a position.
Another implication of apathy is the fact that, when there is apathy on the part of the state, entire groups of people may suffer. When legislators pay less attention to the well-being of groups such as trans* people of color, for example, this does not represent a simple oversight: it reflects a lack of commitment to the survival of a group that is consistently persecuted in this country.

Continue reading

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Announcement from the Editors

Dear Readers (and Trolls),

We’re excited to announce a new development for STATIC – starting Fall 2012, we will be publishing a quarterly journal in addition to our regular blog posts! The STATIC management was asked to take leadership of The Progressive, Stanford’s original progressive publication. To increase the scope and impact of Stanford’s progressive voice, we will be merging both publications. STATIC will now be publishing a printed journal of essays and research while posting more casual and spontaneous work on our online blog. Both publications will be part the Stanford STATIC brand.

Following this expansion, we are now recruiting staff members for the 2012-2013 year. We are seeking a Financial Officer, Webmaster, Content Editor, Layout Editor, Outreach Coordinator, and Community Liaison. If you are a member of the Stanford community (past and present) and you are interested in becoming a part of STATIC, please check out our (very brief!) application, due September 4th.

Finally, don’t forget to fill out our anonymous feedback form. We appreciate your suggestions for how to improve STATIC. (And for those of you who requested a stanford.edu URL, never fear! It’s on its way).

In solidarity,

Holly Fetter, ‘13
Jovel Queirolo, ‘14
Co-Editors in Chief, Stanford STATIC

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Undercover Sociologist: Stanford Barista Reveals the Brighter Side of Dark Roast

by ABCrane, Stanford employee and Sociologist


It’s seven in the morning and the line is already out the door! Welcome to Stanford’s Med Cafe in the gorgeous new Li Ka Shing building. As medical students, researchers, and the rest of Stanford’s scientific community line up for their morning caffeine infusion, Stanford’s blue collar counterpart churn the wheels of the great immobile food cart of Stanford Hospitality & Dining Enterprises.   Chefs, dishwashers, food preparers—all behind the scenes—grind the daily cleaver to present an amazingly delicious gourmet medley of soups, sandwiches, salads and hot entries. In the front of the house, baristas steam lattes, brew coffees, mix the mocha, and ring up orders at rapid speeds while maintaining a pleasant smile and cheery ambience.

But behind the smiley faces and friendly “have a nice days”, what is truly brewing? Two years ago, I took a job as a barista at Med Cafe. But, having just published my book, Project Integrity International: Philosophy & Plan for a New Economy, why take such a position so seemingly far removed from my intellectual pursuits?

Experience! I needed the experience of working in a cafe so as to one day open my own. Continue reading

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The Raging Grannies Show Off Their Sassy Humor at Stanford and Around Town

by the Raging Grannies

Gail Sredanovic (R) holds up a Raging Grannies sign in front of the Apple Store on University Ave. The Grannies protested Apple’s abuse of workers in China on five occasions from January through March this year.

If you haven’t heard of the Raging Grannies you haven’t spent much time at demonstrations in White Plaza. Members of the Grannies, some of whom are Stanford graduates, joined current students during a recent Occupy demonstration, during SlutWalk, and have protested on campus for environmental causes and against the use of torture, amongst other causes. Gail Sredanovic tells us why they do it in a Q &  A session.

Q: When did you graduate from Stanford?

A:  I got my Master’s in French at Stanford  in 1965.  Some of our other Grannies spent their undergraduate years at Stanford, and another was a graduate student in psychology.

Q: Tell us how the Grannies came to be! Is everyone a grandmother? How many are there in the group local to Stanford?

A: The name and the style were the brainchild of a group of women in Victoria, British Columbia. They first appeared in 1987 and are still going strong. Continue reading

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A Few Thoughts on Activism and Stanford Culture

A version of this post originally appeared on the Occupy Art blog.

by Lizzie Quinlan, ’13


Over the past few months I have found myself wondering why it is so hard to mobilize Stanford students to direct action. There is a general perception that activism is a lost art on this campus, and it’s hard to say why this is the case. You would think that with all of the injustices in our world becoming ever more visible as technology makes them easier to broadcast, we would barely have time to breathe for all the marches, boycotts, and rallies we would be organizing. After all, we’re energetic college students, aren’t we? But the reality is that problem after problem gets ignored, or at best halfheartedly discussed by a few people before being swept aside as just another project we don’t have time for in between essays and problem sets.

(* I should preface this blog post with an acknowledgement of all the fantastic service that Stanford students do. I am speaking specifically about activism, which I see as a public critical engagement with issues of social justice and the systems of oppression that create these problems. *)

Given my puzzlement over the current state of affairs, I’ve tried to brainstorm a few possible reasons why so few of us consider ourselves activists, and why public, collective, rage is such an infrequent visitor to this campus. Here’s what I came up with:

(1) Stanford students believe in the system. Continue reading

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The L.A. Riots and the Myth of Multiculturalism

by Holly Fetter, ’13


At tonight’s Occupy Art lecture, Jeff Chang asked, “How did the L.A. Riots change Whiteness?”

My answer? It didn’t.

Twenty years ago today, cleanup efforts began throughout the ravaged cityscape of Los Angeles. For four days, masses of outraged people – primarily people of color – reacted to the unjust acquittal of the four LAPD police officers that beat Rodney King.

I was only two years old when the Riots broke out, a small girl with no memory of this tragedy. All I have is the complicated knowledge that it was the military and police officers that protected my White neighborhood from encountering the flames and violence that were engulfing other parts of the city. The L.A. Riots are a site at which I can begin to excavate my own history of privilege, begin to understand the ways that institutional privilege saved me from being one of the 53 people killed or the thousands injured. By re-visiting the living archive of this uprising, I can understand the world of racism that I inherited, a world hasn’t changed much in 20 years.

When reading about the Riots, one encounters tales of inter-ethnic struggle, of a city destroyed by its own low-income residents of color. But the assigned texts for this week’s Occupy Art lecture allowed me to reflect on the role of White folks during and after the Riots. Continue reading

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