Editor's Note: Why I Am Optimistic

Editor's Note: Why I Am Optimistic

To our readers,

Serving as Editor in Chief of Volume 65 of the Review was an incredible privilege. As Volume 66 begins, I want to take a moment to thank you, our readers, for your support.

It is no secret that the majority of Stanford students and faculty have beliefs that Review members often disagree with. In today’s political environment, dissenting with the prevailing consensus is dangerous. Review members have been threatened with legal action, publicly shamed on messaging platforms by student RAs, and ostracized by peers for their views.

But we are not afraid to publish because our readers expect the Review to make contrarian arguments, cover uncomfortable topics, and pursue stories that other publications avoid. In my first editor’s note, I argued that societies which encourage debate between competing ideas are more resilient in the long run than those that encourage conformity. Our readers believe this too, and they inspire us to continue building a community of heterodox thinkers at Stanford.

Our readers are the surest proof of all that the Review is here to stay. Our publication will continue to exist as long as there are members of the Stanford community who have opinions considered inappropriate or downright heretical by their peers. Our mission is to provide a space where these opinions can be shared and debated without fear of retaliation.

In theory, there is some reality where the Review would not have to exist. If universities created forums where controversial ideas could be freely discussed, my guess is that the Review would become redundant and our membership would plummet. But over the past year, the opposite has happened: the Review is growing, not shrinking.

As editor, I placed a distinct emphasis on recruiting new writers and members. An organization is only as strong as its people, and in Volume 65, we made great progress towards attracting a new generation of Stanford students to the Review. We recruited dozens of new members from all over the political spectrum who were fed up with campus groupthink and craved an opportunity to genuinely debate their peers.

In my conversations with new Review members, I learned that Stanford students are angry with administrators whose pandemic policies permanently disfigured the college experience. They are wary of large technology corporations in Silicon Valley that possess almost limitless power to censor content on a whim. They question whether diversity, equity, and inclusion policies instituted at Stanford and throughout corporate America are doing more harm than good. They are skeptical of arguments that advocate for abolishing Greek life on campus. And, most importantly, they are increasingly willing to express these beliefs at Review meetings or in writing, without experiencing paralyzing fear about their career or their social status.

To be clear, the Review’s work is far from done. But I believe that the growing popularity of the Review shows that the tide is turning. Heterodox thinking is slowly but surely making a comeback at Stanford, and I hope that this progress will continue in the next volume. Overall, I am incredibly optimistic not just about the future of the Review, but also the future of rational argumentation on campus.

Volume 66, which has already begun, will be led by Mimi St Johns. I am confident that she will succeed in growing the Review’s footprint both on and beyond campus. To the staff of Volume 65, thank you for your relentless hard work in publishing articles, contributing to lively debates at weekly meetings, and helping to make the Review one of the most tight-knit and exciting communities on campus. And again, to our readers, to whom this final editor’s note is dedicated, thank you. Your support gives us immense courage.

If you are a member of the Stanford community, the Review holds weekly meetings on Mondays at 7 pm on the second floor of Old Union: come and try being a heretic for an hour! I promise it will be worth it.

Neelay Trivedi

Editor in Chief, Volume 65

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