This is the last issue of Volume 40 of The Stanford Review. It’s a good time to think about our mission: about why we’re here and what we’re doing; and to judge ourselves on how well we’re accomplishing our goals.
What is The Stanford Review? It’s the voice of conservative values and thought at Stanford. It is a voice which is in complete disfavor at Stanford and at nearly every other campus in the country. It’s a voice which is overwhelmingly in the minority in academia, and has been for the past 35 years. Nonetheless, for us conservatives, speaking up for our values is absolutely vital—for the future of our country as well as for the future happiness of our country’s citizens and our own families. Every single writer at The Review—Republican and libertarian, Christian and Jewish—feels the importance of that “mission” equally. That is why we write.
What are we doing? Through the past volume, we’ve moved aggressively to broaden and amplify the voice of The Review. During this volume we helped to host seven speaking events which drew a combined one thousand listeners. These events promoted impressive discussions, both on the spot and retrospectively through their reporting in The Review. We’ve expanded the scope of our writing to include more social and cultural reflections, including campus commentary from conservative Catholic and Jewish students. We’ve published interviews with Stanford scholars covering everything from healthcare policy to campaign politics to the founders’ view on faith.
How well are we doing? This question is the hardest to answer. The best way to go about evaluating ourselves is to look at the people we impact. There are two sides to any voice: our writers, the people who speak for The Review, and our readers, the people who listen. As Editor-in-Chief, one of the most challenging and fulfilling things I have done was taking charge of a staff of people who were at all different stages of development both as writers and as thinkers. The Review is a catalyst for development and evolution of conservative thought. Our participation, as students, gives each of us a chance to strengthen and shape our own thoughts, and also to reach out and touch listeners. Not surprisingly, we all learn that the harder we work at our craft, the more we accomplish toward both goals.
Some of the most fulfilling moments during my tenure as Editor-in-Chief have been witnessing a writer or editor gain the knowledge that we are really making a difference. When an avowed atheist admitted that Jay Richards won the atheism vs. theism debate; when Muslim students listened to Flemming Rose’s hour-long defense of the Mohammed cartoons; when editors receive written feedback on their articles: then we know that we are having an impact.
We cannot ever know just how many of our more liberal readers we convert to our way of thinking about issues and values, or perhaps merely begin to open their minds toward conservatism’s profoundly different perspective on people, on society and on fundamental values. But it’s a common story to hear great conservatives—from William Buckley to Thomas Sowell—talk about how their minds were changed in their youth by a single person, book, or newspaper article. The Review exists to give the Buckleys and Sowells of our own generation—within our readership and our own staff—a fighting chance. We have faith that we’re making a difference, and we look forward to continuing for a long time to come.
Diane Raub, Editor-in-Chief