Editor’s Note, Volume LVI
This has not been a quiet year. Since I became Editor-in-Chief, Serra’s name progressed toward erasure, Fossil Free Stanford’s agenda has been vetoed, Full Moon on the Quad is no more, SSE has become leaderless, anti-semitism reared its ugly head, a Marxist professor ripped into safe spaces, and a few dozen students (43 to be exact – we set a record for Acts of Intolerance) have made it clear they don’t find April Fools’ Day funny.
Stanford students and groups have thrown themselves into political life to an unprecedented degree. Hundreds surged out of nowhere to express their support for Western Civilization on the day of the ballot deadline, even if the petition did ultimately lose. A hundred more asked the ASSU Executive to ensure the representation of student veterans. Over fifty people attended a dialogue on the humanities. And, of course, Who’s Teaching Us and others have seen high turnout to their events too.
Such engagement and interest is commendable. We have moved from a Stanford where fifteen students sitting in Nitery quietly voted to remove a name from dozens of buildings on campus, to one where fifteen thousand people read about and considered the Senate’s inability to pass a basic resolution condemning anti-semitism. And – barring a few Acts of Intolerance and an email from the administration midway through elections – students have been willing to hear each other out respectfully, and come to their own decisions.
In all, Stanford has become less ideologically rigid, less willing to accept the doctrine of monolithic groups as true, and more active in student politics. But just as I warned in my first Editor’s Note, staying both engaged and open is hard. Republican voters have embraced a candidate who identified a single issue and blamed everything on it. Likewise, some Stanford students risk embracing a movement that laughs in the face of democracy, blames every problem students face on oppression, and threatens civil disobedience when others ask for compromise.
Thankfully – and perhaps because over a third of students declared their opposition to the diversity demands – Who’s Teaching Us has chosen not to start rioting on campus. But the allegations that Students for Justice in Palestine plans a second attempt to divest from Israel – even after the administration ruled it out – sound an ominous tone. Hopefully, the knowledge that a BDS vote would be wildly unpopular should be enough to silence antidemocratic forces on campus for another year.
The Review will never pretend to be neutral on these issues. You may well hate us; if our email inbox is anything to go by, some of you really do. But even the writers who claimed that reading Plato causes minority students to need counselling would admit that campus has never before been so engaged in discussing what a Stanford curriculum should look like. Even the staunchest opponents of the West were surprised by the speed with which faculty wheeled out a new humanities core after we proposed our own. Even those who believe Serra is a genocidal maniac have applauded the administration’s decision to come up with clear principles before whitewashing history. Even those who see the Review as a bastion for staunch conservatism supported our calls to restore Full Moon on the Quad, and to let common sense prevail in freshman dorms.
Sun Tzu once claimed that “victorious warriors win first and then go to war”. A quarter million people have read the Review in the last three months. Over two thousand students voted to preserve Full Moon. A supermajority of Stanford opposes divestment against Israel, just a year after the Senate voted in the opposite direction.
We don’t always align with how campus ends up acting. But when we ask questions nobody else dares touch, we’ve already won.
I wish Mackenzie Yaryura the very best of luck next volume, and cannot thank my staff enough for always being willing to take the right action, not the easy one. Keep demanding change, Stanford.