This article is not intended for the average Review reader. I’m not writing for someone who is already contrarian, but for the less common (on this site) but more mainstream Stanford student who reads the Review occasionally to stay informed. I hope you can try to understand some of my points rather than being dismissive.
I spent my summer studying for the MCAT which I took a few weeks ago. While I was studying, I would have occasional mental distractions, little rabbit holes of thought I’d want to burrow into to hide from the Organic Chemistry sections. Due to the nature of the MCAT, I resisted most of these impulses and instead jotted down these thoughts in a note on my phone then returned to studying immediately.
As a result, this article may seem very disjointed, as it’s written in a bit of stream-of-consciousness across roughly 4 months of studying. After I took the test I revisited the note and selected a few interesting thoughts to expand upon and share with you.
I was asked recently by someone whether I was ‘cuffed.’ I have a girlfriend, so I responded in the affirmative. But something didn't feel right about using that word. Being cuffed has the connotation of being restricted, unable to move freely.
This phrase may lend the mind to believe that being in a relationship is depriving oneself of freedom by tying you down to one person. This belief incorrectly characterizes the concepts of romantic relationship and freedom. Freedom is not just maximization of possible choices. It is the ability to make good choices. We as humans are not just particles bouncing around, we are locomotives who grow most when our will is used not to take us off our track, but to push us further along it toward our goal. Ask the derailed train if it is more free.
If one looks at ‘freedom’ as having the most possible options in all future scenarios, of course having a single partner would be abhorrent. Polyamory would be favored. But the polycule is a desert for real connection. Many young people are waking up and realizing that they want more than just sex—they want to love and be loved. This requires commitment, and commitment is diluted when divided amongst five romantic partners as hookup culture promotes.
I am entering my senior year at Stanford. Coming here as a freshman I knew there would be no shortage of differences from my home in the Midwest. The most glaring is the cult-like political culture.
I can’t even count the number of times people revealed to me in confidence that they disagreed with what a professor or student or dormmate or friend was saying but felt too scared to speak up. The cloud (die wolken) of political correctness and homogeneity surrounds us (einkreisen) and asphyxiates open discourse. The administration at least has fought back in favor of professors having academic freedom and against students interrupting speakers, but the average student is woefully averse to true dialogue.
There exist spaces on campus to engage in such discussion, but the sad truth is that many students need to be very comfortable with someone before they dare to disagree with them.
Stanford’s administration is morbidly, hilariously, unironically terrible at accommodating religion. The Office for Religious and Spiritual Life sees each faith tradition as a little wellness club with people who don’t really care to live differently from other clubs based on their beliefs. Take the third floor of Old Union: the religious communities are shuttered away and all told to share the same nondescript room for their identical services.
The reality is that many true followers of different religions on campus vehemently disagree with each other. One cannot be a Catholic and a Muslim and a Jew and a Hindu. These belief systems are unique, and more than that, they are philosophically incompatible. Stanford puts each one in a little box and lets them out to play every now and then. I have no problem with free religious expression and I am saddened by how clearly Stanford wants to stifle it. This is antithetical to true religious expression and disrespects each of these religions.
I have felt a greater anxiety in my life as I approach applications to graduate school. Not everything is in my control. I am not omnipotent, and neither are you, oh wonderful Stanford student. Sometimes it feels like things are out of my control and I hate that feeling. An application process seems like a lottery, and life is full of application processes. We’ve won one lottery by getting here, and I worry that our luck may have run out.
There is no point fighting this feeling. It’s true, you have no power to control others and get the life you want. All you can do is try to work hard and live well. You and I need to abandon our desires for the respect of others and become detached from expectations. Only by relinquishing control can we find peace.
As I reflect on relationship statuses in the age of hookup culture, I realize that many of the things which we mock about rural culture are just things that help someone feel content. The ever-grinding coastal elites denigrate a simple life filled with family in favor of professional achievement. Yet the same students who clamor so desperately for Jane Street internships feel a great emptiness within themselves as they look at their personal lives. The reason for this discrepancy is the same: in our frenzy to achieve success in life, we lose sight of what we are living for.
A similar link exists between the relativism many Stanford students profess and the inability to openly discuss one’s ideas with others. At Stanford, Fizz posts attacking Review articles don’t even have to critique the arguments, they need only restate those arguments and hordes of people will pile on to repeat how ludicrous they are. It’s odd that Stanford has such a homogenous political culture. If Stanford cared about diversity it would not solely seek racial diversity, but also a diversity of opinion. When few have strong opinions because of relativism, and even fewer share opinions because of cancellation, you’ve built the most effective echo chamber in the world.
I have read the Stanford Review since my first weeks on campus. I have never written an article. I said I was busy or didn’t have anything to write about. These things were partially true, but I was really just scared. I was scared to put myself out there and disagree with others. I was scared that people in classes or my clubs would see what I wrote and think less of me, treat me as an inferior or accuse me of bigotry. As I enter my senior year these worries fade away. I really don’t care what the average Stanford student thinks of me. Your boos mean nothing to me; I have seen what makes you cheer.
Maybe I am getting older and more mature. Maybe I am becoming more comfortable in my beliefs and defending them. Maybe I am just starting to have a different opinion on relegation.