Stanford DailyStanford Daily http://www.stanforddaily.com 6/25/2016 Sat, 25 Jun 2016 02:34:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 President Obama talks inclusive entrepreneurship, moderates panel with Mark Zuckerberg http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/24/president-obama-talks-inclusive-entrepreneurship-moderates-panel-with-mark-zuckerberg/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=president-obama-talks-inclusive-entrepreneurship-moderates-panel-with-mark-zuckerberg http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/24/president-obama-talks-inclusive-entrepreneurship-moderates-panel-with-mark-zuckerberg/#respond Sat, 25 Jun 2016 02:03:39 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116220 President Barack Obama addresses the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford, CA. Photo by Rahim Ullah

President Barack Obama addresses the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford, CA. Photo by Rahim Ullah

“This is the place that made nerd cool,” said President Barack Obama when he spoke at Stanford on Friday morning as part of the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). Obama highlighted diversity and accessibility in entrepreneurship in his address.

Following his speech, the president moderated a discussion with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and three young entrepreneurs from around the world.

The speech and panel were part of GES’s Partner Plenary, which also included speeches from Google CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder of AOL Steve Case and welcoming remarks by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Stanford President John Hennessy introduced Obama and emphasized the importance of a diverse workforce, noting that computer science has become the “fastest growing major for women at Stanford.”

“An entrepreneurial mindset — including its constituent characteristics of creativity, collaboration, bold leadership, smart risk-taking — [is] important in all walks of life, especially as we educate young people who will need to address the massive global challenges we have around the world,” Hennessy said.

Obama on why entrepreneurship matters

Following Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union (EU) yesterday evening, Obama explained that he had spoken to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) David Cameron just a few hours before his speech.

“Based on our conversation, I’m confident that the UK is committed to an orderly transition out of the EU,” Obama said.

“While the UK’s relationship with the EU will change, one thing that will not change is the special relationship that exists between the two nations,” he added. “That will endure. The EU will remain one of our indispensable partners.”

Obama also noted that he believes the UK’s decision reflects today’s challenges of globalization — that “the world has shrunk” and is “interconnected.”

“Part of why this Global Entrepreneurship Summit has been so close to my heart, something that I’ve been so committed to, is because I believe all of you represent all the upside of an interconnected world,” he said. “But it’s also important in these discussions to find ways in which we are expanding and broadening the benefits of that interconnection to more and more people.”

According to the president, 170 countries were represented at GES this year, and this is the first year that Cuban entrepreneurs have attended the summit. Next year’s event will be held in India.

Obama stressed that accessibility to resources like financial support and mentorship is key to increasing diversity in entrepreneurship.

“You deserve the same chance to succeed as everybody else,” he said. “You’ve got to make sure that everybody has a fair shot to reach their potential.  You can’t leave more than half the team on the bench.”

New ventures are vital in creating new jobs for youth all over the world, including the United States, he explained.

“We live in a world where half of our world is under the age of 30 — where all of the young people around the world need to start new ventures and create jobs in the 21st century and help lift up entire populations,” Obama said.

In order to achieve these goals, GES aims to help entrepreneurs pursue social missions that matter to them.  The president announced several new initiatives that have stemmed from GES this year: the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), as well as a White House initiative to connect global investors such as the likes of Bill Gates with clean energy entrepreneurs from developing countries.

These latest schemes aim to give young entrepreneurs the boost they need to access capital and business skills.

“Dozens of tech companies are committing to make technology workforces look like America by publishing data on diversity each year and developing tech talents from all backgrounds,” Obama noted.

In all, 17,000 entrepreneurs have benefited from the GES since it was first held in 2010, Obama explained. Just this morning, he signed an executive order institutionalizing his efforts to promote global entrepreneurship — which include the summit itself — so that the initiatives will persist well into the next presidency.

Focusing on the next generation of entrepreneurs

Even as he outlined the latest policy initiatives, Obama focused chiefly on the young entrepreneurs, urging them to seize the networking opportunities during the remainder of the summit.

“The point is, I believe in you, and America believes in you, and we believe you have the talent, skill and ambition not just to pursue your dreams, but to realize them, to lift up not just your own families but your communities, countries, and create hope for decades to come,” Obama said.

To learn about young entrepreneurs’ stories and challenges from around the world, Obama was joined by a panel of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and three up-and-coming entrepreneurs: Mai Medhat, the founder and CEO of Egyptian event planning company Eventtus; Jean Bosco Nzeyimana, founder and CEO of Rwandan renewable energy firm Habona; and Mariana Costa Checa, founder and CEO of the Peruvian technology education social enterprise Laboratoria.

Medhat shared that her event planning and networking company began from a need she had felt keenly herself: professional women in Egypt often have difficulty networking at events. Her drive as an entrepreneur came from a desire to help others in her position.

“Funding was a real challenge of course,” Medhat said. “The passion [is] really the only thing that keeps me going and keeps me awake every day.”

Like Medhat, Zuckerberg emphasized that young entrepreneurs should begin with an idea that invigorates them rather than an idea aimed just at making money.

“When I started, I cared deeply about giving everyone a voice and giving people the ability to share everything they cared about, and bringing a community  together,” Zuckerberg said, recalling Facebook’s early days. “It started small, in one university, and I didn’t think it would be a company at the time.”

From a more practical perspective, Mehdat pointed out that administrative difficulties also abound in her home country — everything from finding a lawyer to registering a new company with several different government offices.

“Even in the U.S., we still have 16 agencies in charge of doing business,” Obama said. “We tried to streamline them into one, but it requires congressional action.”

He looked to Zuckerberg for technological solutions that could lower barriers for entrepreneurs where the government might fail.

“We have developed a program all over the world — it’s called FbStart, and we give entrepreneurs free access to tools,” Zuckerberg said.

“We also have over 50 million small businesses with pages on Facebook, which they use as their primary presence online,” he added.

Obama concluded the discussion by acknowledging that governments around the world may continue to resist the unfamiliar, especially when it comes to technology. He recalled the landmark use of social networks during the 2008 presidential campaign.

“[The campaign team] had all this stuff I hadn’t heard of,” Obama said. “If I tried to maintain control and said, ‘We’re going with pamphlets because I’m used to pamphlets, and I can control what’s in the pamphlet,’ then I might not be sitting here.”

While he acknowledged the dangers of radicalization on the internet, Obama saw technology and entrepreneurship as vital for creating a better future.

“Part of what has created all this [modern entrepreneurship], what Stanford is all about, is our capacity to say, ‘we don’t know’ — to say all the received wisdom may not be right,” he said. “And we’re willing to test that.”

 

Contact Fangzhou Liu at fzliu96 ‘at’ stanford.edu or Kylie Jue at kyliej ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/24/president-obama-talks-inclusive-entrepreneurship-moderates-panel-with-mark-zuckerberg/feed/ 0 GES_Day_3-25 President Barack Obama addresses the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford, CA. Photo by Rahim Ullah
Public and private sector must work together to fight extremism, says Secretary of State John Kerry http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/24/public-and-private-sector-must-work-together-to-fight-extremism-says-secretary-of-state-john-kerry/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=public-and-private-sector-must-work-together-to-fight-extremism-says-secretary-of-state-john-kerry http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/24/public-and-private-sector-must-work-together-to-fight-extremism-says-secretary-of-state-john-kerry/#respond Fri, 24 Jun 2016 07:42:27 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116214 In his opening remarks Thursday at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry charged today’s entrepreneurs with the task of tackling violent extremism, climate change and government corruption around the world.

“You provide a highly visible and very effective rebuttal to the propaganda of violent extremist groups,” Kerry said to the crowd of entrepreneurs. “Your optimism provides an alternative to their nihilism.”

The summit’s 700 entrepreneurs were chosen from over 5,000 applicants worldwide with the aim of connecting public-spirited entrepreneurs from all over the world with the capital to impact their communities. While the 2016 summit launched on Wednesday with an exclusive daylong session for 150 of the top applicants, the full program began on Thursday morning with Kerry’s address.

Opening speaker Patricia Nzolantima’s story exemplified the mixture of enterprise and social responsibility that Kerry saw in today’s entrepreneurs. A born businesswoman, Nzolantima was raising the money to buy her own sewing machine and running a dressmaking business even as a schoolgirl in her hometown in the Congo. Since then, she has come to run a Pan-African marketing agency, a magazine focusing on working women and a microcredit program exclusively for women.

Throughout her speech, Nzolantima stressed her social mission above all else.

“[My aim is] to pierce the highest and hardest glass ceilingto see women become entrepreneurs and community leaders themselves,” Nzolantima said.

Uber founder Travis Kalanick and Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky followed Kerry and Nzolantima’s opening addresses with their own stories. Like Nzolantima’s story, their journeys combined the themes of hard-won personal success and social good.

Chesky emphasized that his ubiquitous home rental startup Airbnb began with an idea at which others laughed.

“I was telling a friend about this idea I had, and he pauses, gives me that look, and he says, ‘Brian, I hope that’s not the only idea you’re working on,’” Chesky quipped.

Chesky recounted the three launches and relaunches that Airbnb went through before it finally secured a double-digit guest count, reminding his audience that the best ideas often appear unbelievable at first.

Kalanick discussed his social vision for Uber as a labor market revolution as much as a successful moneymaking business.

“Uber is inclusive,” Kalanick claimed. “Anybody can work, and that means that in many ways, we look at Uber as being a safety net for a city–imagine if a manufacturing plant goes out of business and lays people off… This work is here for everybody.”

Kalanick’s remarks echoed Kerry’s vision of the inextricable links between the public and private sectors when it comes to dealing with global issues.

“There is a really close connection between what you do as entrepreneurs and investors, and what I do as Secretary of State,” Kerry said. “In our world today, there is an intimate connection between the creation of economic opportunity and the potential for political stability, between economic policy and foreign policy, which have long been two sides of the same coin.”

 

Contact Fangzhou Liu at fzliu96 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 seeks to empower women and youth http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/23/global-entrepreneurship-summit-2016-seeks-to-empower-women-and-youth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-entrepreneurship-summit-2016-seeks-to-empower-women-and-youth http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/23/global-entrepreneurship-summit-2016-seeks-to-empower-women-and-youth/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 07:16:46 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116208 The Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016, which kicked off today at Stanford, is geared to give youth and women a leg up in the entrepreneurial scene. Half of the elite entrepreneurs present were women, while the youngest participant was an 11-year-old.

Those numbers contrasted starkly with other demographic measurements of the business world, such as the mere 37 percent of U.S. businesses founded by women in 2014. However, U.S. Under Secretary of State Richard Stengel pointed out during his opening remarks that the Summit’s makeup is a realistic representation of the world population, which is half women and 44 percent youth — which for Stengel means those under 35.

“People always say, ‘youth are the future,’ and they’re wrong — youth are the present, and that’s why you’re here today,” Stengel said.

The Summit’s twin goals of bringing women entrepreneurs to boardrooms and building businesses in developing countries highlighted the event’s strong emphasis on social responsibility. Organized around a series of talks and panels by leading entrepreneurs, the summit also brings investors and entrepreneurs together to give promising social good startups a boost.

Opening speaker Rahama Wright began her startup journey in her early 20s with a mere $6,000 to her name. Founded in 2005, her company, Shea Yeleen, helps women to run their own shea butter-making cooperatives in West Africa. Since then, the company has expanded to Burkina Faso and Mali.

“We’re showing that women can increase their income to five times the minimum wage in the country, in northern Ghana,” Wright said. “Having that income helps women have access to healthcare services, send their children to school, access land ownership and do things they haven’t been able to do before.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pointed out that economic development and opportunity is spurred by energetic small- and medium-sized enterprises from people like those present at the summit.

“Most jobs don’t come from the Fortune 500 companies,” Kerry said. “Jobs come from someone who has an idea, who works out of a basement to build something from one person, two people [and then] three.”

In line with Kerry’s remarks, opening session panelist Leila Janah criticized the traditional mentality that the private sector must maximize profit to the exclusion of a more public-spirited mission.

“[We’re used to thinking] that the free hand of the market will solve all problems and it hasn’t,” Janah explained. “We can’t rely on underfunded NGOs to do all of the really important work in the world — to fix massive social problems single-handedly.”

Janah has made headlines and magazine covers as the founder and CEO of two companies, Sama and Laxmi, that link the world’s poorest people with steady jobs.

Janah said that her first company, Sama, has managed to break even this year despite its nonprofit status; for Janah, this is remarkable evidence of the potential of sustainable private sector solutions to solve global problems.

“When the organization isn’t reliant entirely on charity or donations but on the revenue line as well, there are such huge opportunities in the middle ground,” she said.

 

Contact Fangzhou Liu at fzliu96 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

 

Photo Gallery: Day One of GES 2016

 

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Film review: Pixar’s “Finding Dory” is great fun, but is that enough? http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/22/finding-dory/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=finding-dory http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/22/finding-dory/#respond Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:20:13 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116202 Warning: after the first two paragraphs, this article contains light spoilers.

You don’t need to be told to see “Finding Dory,” a neither inventive nor disposable piece of pretty Pixar candy. It’s shaping up to be the summer’s biggest hit. Critics have issued their thumbs-ups. Kids and parents are pleased. Obviously, this is a nicely-done matinee blockbuster deserving of all the money it’s got coming. But should our “taste” buds approve of a reheated “Finding Nemo”? It’s a college-age generation’s sworn duty to check this long-expected sequel out. But that doesn’t mean it bodes well for Pixar’s sequel-heavy future. “Finding Dory” is great, but not Pixar great.

“Finding Dory” is as good a Pixar sequel cash-in as can be. The story elaborates on a mysterious, wonderfully dark joke from the first movie (A joke that was better left unexplained.) In “Finding Nemo,” Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) explained her short-term memory loss to Marlin (Albert Brooks): “It runs in my family. Or, at least, I think it does. Hmm…where are they….Can I help you?” This joke has been padded here to fit a formulaic 100 minutes of occasionally gripping, maybe-tear-inducing Pix drama.

“Finding Dory” is the Pixar formula at its most brutally noticeable. The formula, roughly: a gripping prelude (varying in time from a fast 300 seconds in “Finding Dory,” to ten minutes in “Up” and “Inside Out,” to a half-hour in “Wall-E”) where a cutesy mood is set; where Pix’s world-building leaves us stupefied in googly-eyed wonder; and where tears are shed. Then, a challenge. Follow-up: A zippy action scene where Pix shows off all the nifty things CG animation is capable of. Some weird friends are brought along the way. A half-hour of cute-ha-ha scenes where absolutely nothing can go wrong. Absolutely everything goes wrong. Twenty minutes of the characters at their lowest point. Aside from the opening sequence, this is where the Pix team turns on the spigot of tears for the longest period of time. Then, fortunes are picked up; the characters overcome the challenge from the beginning. Everything ends happily, order restored, kids filled up with greasy popcorn and Icees; and everyone goes home, awaiting the next Pix wow. All throughout the film, themes of immense profundity (“Wall-E” and environmentalism; “Monsters, Inc.”-“Toy Story” and growing up; “Inside Out” and depression) are rechanneled into clean, bite-sized metaphors for adults to nod knowingly and for kids to go “whaaaa?” When they grow up, they’ll spend a weekend rewatching these films, soaking in the nostalgia, before marching off to go see “Inside Out II: Electric Boogaloo.”

There’s a reason why the formula works. Like a good pop song, it allows for multiple variations for products that never change their core identity. Sometimes, the variations are really adventurous: Sophisticated art pieces (“Wall-E,” “Inside Out”) on the level of a Motown or a Beatles tune. Lately, though, this art-factory with notoriously high standards has been going slack, rather late Michael Jackson-ish. Pixar is increasingly relying on either CG splendor (“Good Dinosaur,” “Brave”), nostalgia-trips (“Monsters University” — what “Finding Dory” could have been, but thankfully wasn’t) or blatant cash-ins (“Cars 2”) to carry the weight of their products. When the formula is off-balance, it doesn’t work. A Pixar film must juggle these elements — commercial appeal, visual progress, appeal to all generations in equal spurts, thoughtful story-crafting — with equal pizazz. If not, the house comes tumbling down.

What of “Finding Dory,” then? Well, it never stumbles, but it doesn’t stupefy either. It’s safe filmmaking with an occasionally punchy scene, reminding you, “We’re still Pixar!” The queasy transitions from maudlin melodrama to action-packed splendor aside, “Finding Dory” is one hell of an entertainment from beginning to post-credits end. For all the moments where we’re forced to slog through the familiar Pix beats, we get rewarded with some of Pixar’s most deliriously absurd scenes. I’m, of course, talking about the ending — a ferocious combination of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” a runaway truck and a driving septopus that must be seen to be believed.

But I’m also talking about more obscure moments, like the minute-long encounter between Marlin, Nemo and a lonely clam (voiced by director Andrew Stanton, who also did the first “Nemo” and the masterpiece “Wall-E”). I couldn’t stop laughing; the chuckles just kept coming, me caught up in the hilarity of this briefest of moments. I shed tears during “Finding Dory,” but not of sadness (it doesn’t grab you by the throat like “Inside Out”). These were tears of joy, of hilarity, at the brilliance of the clam — his shell-valves clapping up-and-down like a 3D Pacman, burbling on and on about his love-life and how lonely he is. The scene doesn’t last longer than a minute or two, but this clam speaks to the termite-art soul, illuminating why and how the power of Pixar comes in the quietest, most downplayed moments.

Yet “Finding Dory’s” fervent commitment to the Pix formula has darker consequences. There’s a reason why I’m going on and on about the formula here: It’s so leadenly dead-and-center here. The narrative shifts aren’t concealed, the hands turning the spigot of tears are visible. Nothing seems as pure as it did in the glory days of the aughts. When Crush the Turtle makes a sudden appearance, bellowing “Righteous! Righteous!” like a malfunctioning animatron at Disneyland, you sense a disturbance. When this wasn’t a catch-phrase, it was golden; now, it carries an upsetting stench of staleness. The whole movie — milking the short-term memory loss gag for all it’s worth; the brilliant Albert Brooks reduced to repeating “Ooo-roo!” a hundred times to a blank-faced loon; the emotional climax feeling weirdly stilted for its expectedness — feels like it’s just pleasing fans, instead of pleasing and provoking thought.

A movie can only coast by nostalgia from a loyal fan-base for so long. Halfway through “Finding Dory”, one thinks, “Yeah, we’ve been waiting for this for 13 years; but is the product worth the wait?” A quick trip to the theater, a few joy-filled moments of seeing these characters creak back into their roles, and then — emptiness, the day goes on, the joy dissipates. “Finding Dory” doesn’t leave you with a gnawing impulse to watch it again and again and again, like Brad Bird’s weird “Ratatouille” or Pete Docter’s head-spinningly complex “Inside Out.” Somehow, Pix’s glory days seem to be slipping away.

“Finding Dory’s” brand of quickie engagement is symptomatic of sequels, where avant-garde impulses are sacrificed for a coasting-by safety. It’s particularly upsetting to see this kind of sequel-itis coming from Pixar, whose early-era originality set a high bar for animation studios, from Disney to Dreamworks. Before 2011’s “Cars 2,” even when Pixar made a sequel (“Toy Story 2”), the film wasn’t simply a crude rehash. It expanded upon the toys’ world, refusing to simply tap into the cheapness of a nostalgic trip. But once “Cars 2” came out and made big moola, the impulse seemed to suddenly change. Now, nostalgia was alright, as long as the story came first. But movie-by-movie, the stories ceased to excite like they used to: “Cars 2,” then “Monsters University” (like an awkward high-school reunion of the “Monsters” gang), then “Finding Dory.”

Even today’s Pixar originals (“Brave” and “Good Dinosaur”) cling to an apparent Pix mediocrity (which, again, is still better than whatever kitsch the Mouse serves up in his corny-copias). Docter’s “Inside Out,” alarmingly, proves the exception to this late-era slump. As a point of comparison, between 1998-2010, the opposite was the case: a mediocre movie like “Cars” (2006) was once the exception.

I’m afraid we may learn the wrong lessons from fine Pixar sequels like “Finding Dory.” It’s no discredit to Stanton and his incredible team, of course, but it does raise alarm-bells of concern for those of us who remember the string of Pix original hits. Three of Pixar’s next four projects are sequels: Yet another “Cars” movie (we can guess why); a “Toy Story” film that (no matter how good it is) will upset the trifecta’s already-perfect balance; and a second “Incredibles” (which I don’t care for as much as others).

It’s ironic that “Finding Dory” moralizes kids on being avant-garde, chaotic, improvisatory, Zhuangzian, ready to take on life’s challenges with an embrace of the slippery unknown. It’s ironic, because “Finding Dory” is none of these things. It’s fun and funny, sure, but is that all Pixar can supply nowadays?

Contact Carlos Valladares at cvall96@stanford.edu

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Brock Turner trial puts expert defense witness in spotlight http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/12/brock-turner-trial-put-expert-defense-witness-in-spotlight/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=brock-turner-trial-put-expert-defense-witness-in-spotlight http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/12/brock-turner-trial-put-expert-defense-witness-in-spotlight/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 05:58:46 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116189 For those who accuse Judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85 of favoring former Stanford freshman Brock Turner with a relatively light six-month sentence for sexual assault, the Turner case has sparked closer scrutiny of potential bias in a supposedly impartial institution.

Accusations of bias also arose during the trial back in March, around another courtroom figure that is at least in theory nonpartisan: the expert witness.

Turner’s defense drew on the testimony of one expert witness in particular, Kim Fromme from the University of Texas at Austin, who stated that someone experiencing an alcohol-induced “blackout” (in which she said a person is conscious but memory-impaired) can still act normally and engage in voluntary activities. Witnesses say they discovered Turner “thrusting” on an unconscious body, but Turner says the interaction was consensual both then and earlier in the night. Fromme cited her research on alcohol and adolescents to argue that the victim could have agreed to sex even though she has no memory of meeting Turner at the party where the crime occurred.

Fromme, a professor of clinical psychology, holds a Ph.D. and has been published in a number of peer-reviewed scientific journals. She conducted a decade-long study of alcohol’s effects in over 2,000 UT students. But the prosecution questioned her objectivity when she testified at Turner’s trial. For critics, Fromme exemplified the ethical dilemmas surrounding expert witnesses — particularly when they receive large sums of money and have a track record of testifying for the same kinds of clients.

Expert witnesses are knowledgeable in a certain field and can range from a doctor called to discuss medical evidence to an engineer called to discuss design flaws in a machine. Deborah Rhode, Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law at Stanford and a frequently cited scholar on legal ethics, said that unlike regular witnesses, most experts are paid to appear.

Rhode said that when deciding whether to trust an expert witness, jurors should consider the person’s academic qualifications and reputation among peers, as well as how much the expert is paid for his or her testimony and what other cases he or she has testified in.

“I think there’s a reason to be deeply suspicious of this testimony,” Rhode said of Fromme, although she noted that she was not familiar with and could not pass judgment on the professor’s research.

When the prosecution sought to discredit Fromme during Turner’s trial, they noted her $8,000 retainer and $350 per hour fee, in addition to thousands of dollars covering her hotel and travel. According to a 2014 survey, the average hourly fee for expert witnesses was similar to Fromme’s, while the average retainer was lower at about $3,400.

Prosecutors also brought up emails between Fromme and the defense in which Fromme seemed to regard acquittals in other alcohol-related rape cases as victories.

“Let’s hope for a comparable outcome for your client,” Fromme wrote about an acquittal in a sexual assault and kidnapping case for which she had recently testified. A few days later, she called a not-guilty verdict for a man who had confessed to raping a woman “huge.”

Fromme’s history in court also came under fire. Fromme has been an expert witness in over 30 court cases, many of which dealt with alcohol and sexual assault. In almost all of those instances, she testified on the side of the defense.

In one of her highest profile cases, Fromme appeared in the 2013 Steubenville rape trial in Ohio, which found two teens guilty of digitally penetrating an intoxicated 16-year-old girl without consent. One boy was also convicted of taking a picture of the naked, passed out victim and circulating it among classmates. Fromme argued that if the girl was capable of, for example, walking unassisted down the stairs, then she could also have made voluntary decisions and consented to sex.

Fromme also testified in 2014 on behalf of three Naval Academy football players accused of raping a woman intoxicated beyond consent and in the 2008 trial of former UCSB soccer player Eric Frimpong, who was ultimately convicted of raping a drunk woman. Frimpong and the victim gave very different accounts of the night in question; Fromme said that changes in the victim’s testimony — at first she said she was hit, but she later described in detail being bitten — showed “how memory can be constructed following a blackout” and indicated that the victim’s story was unreliable.

Fromme’s research on alcohol has led to other engagements outside her university position, besides court testimony. In 2014, she was hired by UCSD as an alcohol expert and consultant to its new task force on safe drinking. An article in the San Diego Reader mocked Fromme’s advice, which came with a $40,000 price tag, as “such priceless pearls as, ‘pace yourself,’ ‘avoid Jell-O shots,’ and ‘beer before liquor, never sicker.’”

In Turner’s case, it seems that jury members were not swayed by Fromme’s testimony. The jury convicted Turner on all three felony counts charged against him: sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person.

But Turner’s case is not over — and not just because controversy continues to mount over his sentence. Amid a recall effort against the judge and an outpouring of support for the victim, Turner is planning to appeal his conviction. And Fromme may testify in other sexual assault cases in the future. Rhode said that juries and the public should be vigilant as they weigh different opinions.  

“Anyone who has a pattern and practice of accepting such large fees for such a controversial position ought to be viewed with the closest scrutiny,” she said.

 

Contact Hannah Knowles at hknowles ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Sexual assault is a problem at Stanford, but the details are missing http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/12/sexual-assault-is-a-problem-at-stanford-but-the-details-are-missing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sexual-assault-is-a-problem-at-stanford-but-the-details-are-missing http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/12/sexual-assault-is-a-problem-at-stanford-but-the-details-are-missing/#respond Sun, 12 Jun 2016 21:28:35 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116179 TRIGGER WARNING: The following contains descriptions of sexual assault.

The Brock Turner sexual assault case has left many of us at Stanford reeling. The details of the case are disturbing. The survivor was found at the scene with her assailant, Brock Turner, by two graduate students who happened to be bicycling past; it was only because one of them got a weird feeling that he took a second glance and noticed that she seemed to be unconscious. When they approached to ensure that the woman was okay, Turner took off running. If he had not been pursued and restrained until the police arrived, he might never have been charged with a crime. Unfortunately, what is unusual about this case is not that a woman was sexually assaulted; rather, it is that her assailant was apprehended, reported and tried.

A comprehensive study of sexual assault rates at 27 American universities, conducted by the Association of American Universities (AAU), found that by their senior year more than one in four female and gender-nonconforming undergraduates will experience sexual assault (defined as penetration or sexual touching carried out through physical force or incapacitation). This is a staggering statistic. The logical next question is, “How does Stanford compare to these universities?” Unfortunately, data to answer this question do not exist.

Stanford did conduct a campus climate survey about sexual assault in the spring of 2015. The results that were released from this survey have since been widely condemned. Much of the outrage surrounding the survey relates to the way that the Stanford survey defined sexual assault, leading to startlingly low sexual assault statistics at the University. For example, Stanford found that 6.5 percent of its undergraduate women had experienced sexual assault by their senior year, compared to 26.1 percent found by the AAU survey. The remarkably small size of this statistic was due in part to Stanford’s own restricted definition of sexual assault: Unlike many of our peer universities, Stanford defines sexual assault as penetration or oral sex but not sexual touching. The survey results released in October categorized sexual assault to match the Stanford code in this respect, which is one reason that Stanford reported such low sexual assault statistics.

However, the way that Stanford’s climate survey defines sexual assault also contradicts its own code. Stanford’s Administrative Guide clearly states that sexual assault occurs when a person is incapacitated, including when a person is “under the influence of an anesthetizing or intoxicating substance” to the point of incapacitation. Yet in the Stanford survey, participants were not asked about being incapacitated due to alcohol or drug use. Instead, the question capturing incapacitation only specified being “asleep, unconscious, or unable to respond”; a separate question asked if students were “drunk or high,” and all respondents who selected this answer were categorized as having experienced sexual misconduct. The missing question about sexual violence experienced while the respondent was incapacitated due to alcohol or drug use has the potential to miss a huge number of Stanford students who have experienced sexual assault.

The Brock Turner case offers a clear example of why this matters. The survivor from the case had blacked out before she met Brock Turner; had bystanders not intervened, she would have awoken the next morning with no idea of how her assault had come to pass. Had she taken the Stanford climate survey, it is easy to imagine that she would have described the assault as occurring when she was drunk. According to the way that Stanford classified sexual assault on its survey, the Stanford survivor’s experience then would have been classified as a lighter offense — sexual misconduct — rather than sexual assault. Yet what happened in the Brock Turner case was clearly sexual assault.

The extremely restricted way in which sexual assault is defined in the Stanford survey makes a compelling case for why Stanford should adopt the AAU survey used by its peer universities when it next runs a survey among its students about sexual assault. This is not the only reason that the AAU survey would offer better data, however, and the Turner case illustrates why.

The Turner sexual assault occurred at a fraternity party. Do a significant number of Stanford’s sexual assaults occur at fraternity parties? This, again, is question we have no data for: The Stanford campus climate survey did not gather data on the incidence of sexual assault in fraternities. However, the AAU survey does ask this question. As Stanford moves to prevent sexual assaults from happening on its campus in the future, this is something we need to know. We cannot effectively protect students from sexual assaults if we do not know specifically where they occur.

Brock Turner was only caught because two bystanders stepped in to stop him; without their intervention, he would likely still be at Stanford today. It is important to know whether or not when Stanford students see sexual violence occurring, they step in or look the other way. Yet again, Stanford’s survey does not ask about this; the AAU survey does.

In a press release last week, Stanford pledged to increase its budget toward combatting sexual assault in the upcoming school year, and this is commendable. Yet throwing money at the issue blindly is foolish when we could implement sexual assault prevention programs informed by comprehensive, University-specific data. Having data that accurately represent sexual assault rates at Stanford and include comprehensive information about where it occurs is crucial to how effectively we can address this issue. Furthermore, having data on how our students respond to witnessing sexual violence is an important way to establish how well our sexual assault education programs are working. The AAU survey would provide these data.

As a graduate student in the sociology department, I feel strongly that having comprehensive data is the best way to address the sexual assault crisis at Stanford, and that the AAU survey would offer such data. I am not alone in believing this. Last spring, 31 Stanford faculty, including a number of prominent social scientists, signed a letter in support of switching to the AAU survey instrument for future sexual assault surveys at Stanford. An additional 215 graduate students and 109 alumni signed similar letters. Most importantly, over 90 percent of the Stanford undergraduate body, the community among which sexual assault most often occurs at Stanford, voted in favor of using the AAU survey in the future. Our community deserves to have the sexual assault data that we have been asking for.

Additionally, prospective students and their parents deserve to know how we stack up to other universities on sexual assault when they are making the important decision about which college to attend. At present, our University’s statistics are not comparable to those of other universities, and they seem misleadingly low. If we join the AAU survey, prospective students could confidently compare our numbers to those of other universities.

Stanford is an institution that is renowned for producing research based on sound scientific methods. Let’s treat the sexual assault crisis at Stanford with the same mentality. To address sexual assault, we need to gather the data that will allow us to compare ourselves to other universities and implement evidence-based solutions. Until then, we have no guarantee that incidents like the Brock Turner case will not continue to happen on our campus.

– Chloe Hart

Contact Chloe Hart at cghart ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Ken Burns Commencement Address http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/12/ken-burns-commencement-address/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ken-burns-commencement-address http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/12/ken-burns-commencement-address/#respond Sun, 12 Jun 2016 19:14:18 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116178 In his commencement address to the graduating class of 2016, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns dropped his self-described habit of neutrality in order to attack presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

 

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An open letter to men in the grey area http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/11/an-open-letter-to-men-in-the-grey-area/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=an-open-letter-to-men-in-the-grey-area http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/11/an-open-letter-to-men-in-the-grey-area/#respond Sun, 12 Jun 2016 01:00:46 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116127 When I was in middle school, all female students were required to complete a self-defense class. Fighting off “padded attackers,” we were instructed on how to disable sexual assailants with moves like, most memorably, the “slap-grab-twist-pull.” You can probably imagine how that one goes.

It was a foreign experience for a bunch of sheltered 13-year-olds at an elite private school. The vast majority of us had never seen or even thought about seeing a man naked; yet, there we were, getting a crash course in their most vulnerable anatomy because they might attack us.

An instructor rattled off startling statistics about assault, notably that one in every five women will be raped in her lifetime.

One in five??? I looked around myself in concern that so many of my peers would have to deal with this atrocity. I pictured one in five of us being preyed upon in a dark alley, like my young mind quickly pictured it.

Fast forward seven years later. There aren’t many dark alleys in college — not ones that you’d plausibly find yourself in, anyway. There are dimly lit parties, however. In fact, the effects of alcohol and the presence of some (but not all!) men who think that they are entitled to a woman’s body make the dark alley wholly unnecessary.

I got drunk at a party several months ago. I knew all the guys around me and never even considered that I could be placing myself in a harmful scenario. And then I found myself naked in a bathroom begging someone I thought was my friend to stop touching me, to stop taking my body as if it were something he was entitled to.

I backed away from him with my head in my hands, repeating a million times to deaf ears that no, I did not want to have sex with him, that I would not do that, that, in fact, I didn’t want to be doing any of this. I felt powerless, but by the grace of God I was able to sprint out of the room and run up a hill where I sat alone, sobbing.

I had nightmares. I still do. I tried to shake it off, since we shared so many friends. But I couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t be around him. He was my friend, and he betrayed me in the worst way possible.

Months passed by as I endured the nagging feeling that I needed to speak with him about the incident. Not for my own relief — there was nothing he could say that would alleviate my pain — but because I did not want him to do this to any girl ever again. One point in particular I felt the need to emphasize:

“I know this is something that is not really clear to a lot of guys, but not saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean saying ‘yes.’ Further, I was adamantly clear to you that the answer was a firm no….And quite frankly, even if I had said ‘yes,’ by definition I could not provide legal consent, considering how intoxicated I was. Yes, it is my fault for drinking that much at the party. Yes, it is my fault that I let you coax me into drinking even more after that. But it is not my fault that you didn’t have enough respect for me as a human being — let alone a friend — to make sure I was okay with you taking off my pants and taking off your own. Which I wasn’t.

Like I mentioned, there are a lot of perceived ‘grey areas’ with these issues. But nothing about what happened is okay with me. The more I look back on it, the angrier I get. I am sure you wouldn’t have done that sober (similarly, I would have not gotten myself in that situation sober), but being drunk isn’t an excuse for not respecting someone.”

Late one night about a month after this conversation, I discovered that another male friend of mine had just similarly assaulted one of my closest friends. I was so angry that I threw him against the wall, trembling, tears in my eyes, and screamed at him in the hallway at 4:30 a.m. that I didn’t know what the f*** was wrong with him, but he was not entitled to any part of a woman’s body in any capacity for any reason when she is saying no — in fact, if she is saying anything but a clear, sober yes.

A similar incident occurred with yet another one of my close female friends. And then another. And another. My friends’ experiences piled up to a point that the one in five started to feel like too small of a statistic.

The takeaway is a common and clear one. Sexual assault isn’t something that just happens at the hands of psychos in dark alleys, like I pictured when I first learned about it. It’s everywhere, from a party to your own home, and it’s not just your typical criminal who could be the assailant.

Sexual assault is in the one-drink-too-many that can put you in a bad situation, even with someone you thought you trusted. It’s in the minds of a number of men who have been raised in a culture that makes them think they are entitled to a woman’s body and sexuality; men whose morals are untenable enough to be compromised by alcohol and drugs. It’s in the eyes of the same men who think that, when it comes to sexual assault, there’s a “grey area.”

The grey area, to me, is created when men use something like the following excuses to justify actions that leave their victims scarred for life:

“I was so drunk.”

“We were already kissing, how was I supposed to know it wasn’t fine?”

“She was flirting with me all night; she wanted it.”

“No, she didn’t say yes…but she didn’t say no.”

“She could have stopped me if she had really wanted to.”

“There was no sex, so it’s not an assault.”

These guys aren’t dark alley rapists. A lot of them are average Joes who are likely to even be your friends. But they are people who wrongly and illegally believe that there are circumstances in which they are entitled to a woman’s body when she is not consenting.

Something I have found my friends and I saying these days when conversing about men in whom we are interested is, “I think he’s a good guy. Well…he seems like a good guy. I mean, I thought [*insert name of man who had assaulted one of us or one of our friends*] was a good guy, too. There’s no way to know.”

Because of my experience and the experiences of my friends, I find it exceptionally hard to trust men. The struggle is a very private one, and it gets me down more than I’d like to admit. Even if I am really interested in or attracted to someone, I am loath to be in a private space with him because you never know who’s going to be a grey-area guy.

None of this is fair. Not to the victims; not to the decent guys out there who actually deserve our trust.

It’s not even fair to assailants, because if they cite the grey area, they leave no room for themselves to learn from their mistakes and grow into a better person.

And quite frankly, respecting someone’s body is always black and white.

The grey area is bulls**t.

 

– Cat Davidson

 

Contact Cat Davidson at catsd ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Documents from Court, District Attorney reveal details in Brock Turner case http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/10/documents-from-court-district-attorney-reveal-details-in-brock-turner-case/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=documents-from-court-district-attorney-reveal-details-in-brock-turner-case http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/10/documents-from-court-district-attorney-reveal-details-in-brock-turner-case/#respond Sat, 11 Jun 2016 06:05:10 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116170 Newly released documents from the Santa Clara County Superior Court and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office suggest that Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, acted in an “aggressive” way toward another woman a week before the assault and lied to officials when claiming inexperience with drugs and drinking prior to college.

The documents’ release follows intense media scrutiny of a case that has shot to national and even international attention this past week, after many condemned Turner’s six-month county jail sentence as too lenient. Turner was convicted of three felony counts in March a little over a year after two witnesses discovered him on top of an unmoving woman outside Kappa Alpha fraternity. He is expected to serve three months in jail with good behavior, according to the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections.

On Thursday, the Attorney’s Office released the prosecution’s sentencing memo, the report of Turner’s probation officer and an eight-page statement from Turner giving his account of the night of the assault. On Friday, the Superior Court released 470 pages relating to the case, including full reports from police and medics, evidence taken from Turner’s cell phone, letters in support of Turner and the defense’s sentencing memo, among many other items. All documents have been redacted to protect the names of the victim and witnesses.

Much of the documents’ information has already circulated online in excerpts. But the release provides a more detailed look at the case — for example, the rationale behind Turner’s probation officer’s recommendation — and goes further in-depth about the defendant’s personal history.

In particular, the prosecution’s memo reveals that, a week before the Jan. 17 incident, another woman had complained about Turner’s behavior at a different party also at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house.

“This assault occurred a week after [Turner] was similarly aggressive with another female,” the memo states. “That female came forward and described the Defendant as making her feel uncomfortable.”

The Court’s release also includes evidence that seems to contradict Turner’s statement to a probation official that he has never used illicit drugs and only began drinking in college. The prosecution points to a search of Turner’s phone that revealed photos of the defendant smoking a bong as well as text messages dating back to 2014 in which Turner references drinking alcohol and doing “dabs,” a concentrated form of marijuana. These items contrast with Turner’s own description of his past in a letter to Judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85.

“Coming from a small town in Ohio, I had never really experienced celebrating or partying that involved alcohol,” Turner wrote. “Living more than 2,000 miles from home, I looked to the guys on my swim team as family and tried to replicate their values in how they approached college life.”

The latest documents also give further insight into the probation recommendation — ultimately followed by the judge — that suggested a “moderate county jail sentence” for Turner, which generally means four to six months. The report was not previously available to the media, although earlier articles drew on references to the document in the prosecution, defense and victim’s statements.

The report found no aggravating factors in Turner’s actions, because the victim’s vulnerability was a key element of the convicted crime and thus could not be an aggravating circumstance. The probation officer described one mitigating circumstance, Turner’s lack of prior convictions, and factored that into the final recommendation along with Turner’s youth and what the officer interpreted as Turner’s repentance for his actions.

“During the presentence interview, the defendant demonstrated a comprehension that the victim, in her state, was unable to make an informed decision and in that moment, he had a moral responsibility to act in her best interest, which he failed to do,” the officer wrote.

However, the victim has questioned the sincerity of Turner’s remorse, blasting Turner’s testimony and his desire to devote his life to educating young people about the dangers of “campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that” as evidence that Turner has ducked personal responsibility for her assault.

The probation officer also notes that Turner shows “Low-Moderate Risk” for potential to re-commit sexual offenses and that, regardless of his jail sentence, he has already been punished in other ways: with Internet infamy, lifetime sex-offender registration and loss of a “hard earned swimming scholarship.”

Finally, the officer factors in the victim’s own statement that she does not want Turner to “rot in jail.” The prosecution, meanwhile, has argued that officer misinterpreted the victim’s empathy for Turner as approval for a light sentence.

 

Contact Hannah Knowles at hknowles ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Brock Turner’s statement in trial and at his sentencing hearing http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/10/brock-turners-statement-in-trial-and-at-his-sentencing-hearing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=brock-turners-statement-in-trial-and-at-his-sentencing-hearing http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/10/brock-turners-statement-in-trial-and-at-his-sentencing-hearing/#respond Sat, 11 Jun 2016 02:31:29 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116167 The Santa Clara County Superior Court released new documents pertaining to the Brock Turner case on Friday. The following excerpt is the statement submitted by Turner. The final three paragraphs were also read at the sentencing hearing on June 2.

The day of January 17th, 2015, started out like most of my days at school were spent, by getting up and going to swim practice. Having spent the past four months on campus living around my friends who were essentially all on the swim team, I had plans to spend time with them later that day. Coming from a small town in Ohio, I had never really experienced celebrating or partying that involved alcohol. However, when I came to school in California, it had become what I expected when spending a Saturday with friends. I began to champion the idea of relieving the stress of school and swimming by consuming alcohol on weekends with people. On one instance of a Saturday of drinking, I was walking to one of the home football games with my recently found friends on the swim team. I thought things were going great, I was having a beer with them while walking to the game and experiencing what were supposedly ‘the best years of my life’. I thought it was cool to be able to have a beer with friends while walking to a football game. However, the day ended by having been charged with a minor in possession for drinking alcohol. This should of opened myself to the dangers of drinking. I regrettably brushed off the incident as a mistake, but not a mistake that should change my behavior with drinking and being around the environment that enables it. Having spent most of my time around people that consumed alcohol daily, I thought it was fundamental to being in college and living like a college student. Even though I had been charged with a crime, it didn’t deter me from still drinking because I carelessly thought that it was at the core essentials of being a college student and I shouldn’t let one incident change my idea of What being in college meant. During this discovery of what I thought was a college lifestyle, I also had the opportunity to witness on multiple occasions people being intimate at parties that involved alcohol. I remember attending social gatherings with the swim team where these things were not only accepted but almost encouraged for the freshman to experience. Over the course of a couple months at school, I grew more accepting of these characteristics and began to think of it as normal behavior for one to meet people of the opposite sex at parties that involved drinking. The swim team set no limits on partying or drinking and I saw the guys take full advantage of these circumstances, While I was shown to do the same. I witnessed countless times the guys that I looked up to go to parties, meet girls, and take the girl that they had just met back with them. The guys that I thought highly of would dance with girls while being intoxicated and encouraged me to participate in the party like they were. I was an inexperienced drinker and party-goer, so I just accepted these things that they showed me as normal. Living more than two thousand miles away from home, I looked to the guys on my swim team as family and tried to replicate their values in how they approached college life.

That’s why on January 17th, I was excited to attend a party that my friend, who was a freshman on the team at the time, was hosting at his dorm room. If I could go back and change what unfolded on the night of January 17th, I would do it in a heartbeat because I never meant to hurt anyone. I arrived at that party with two other friends of mine that were also swimmers. Once I was there, I began consuming alcohol in the form of beer while socializing with the people at the party, I had approximately five beers while I was in his room. I eventually drank two-swigs of Fireball whiskey in addition to the beer that I had already drank. I felt comfortable and safe knowing that I was just one of many members on the swim team that were there. It felt as though my behavior with consuming alcohol was completely ordinary and what was accepted within my newfound family. Eventually, the party at my [redacted] got broken up by the [redacted]. At this time I was with my friend [redacted] and about 8 other people. The people who weren’t freshman in the group were looking for other parties to venture to. In my short time spent at school, I had become familiar with the fact that people would usually try and head to fraternity parties after being at a more smaller party as the night got later. The night of January 17th was no exception to this fact. As I was travelling with this small group that originated from my friend’s dorm party he had just held, someone verbalized that the fraternity Kappa Alpha was holding a party that we could attend. I didn’t hold an opinion one way or the other of where the group’s final destination should be. Over the course of a couple minutes, the majority of the people in the group decided to walk to the party at Kappa Alpha and I followed with them. I arrived at the frat party through the back entrance of the house. As I passed through the patio doors into the basement area of the house, I spotted my [redacted] playing a drinking game. I started talking with him while he was playing the game alongside another [redacted]. I was just hanging out at the party in the basement area, enjoying my time at the party with the guys I looked up to. Someone then decided to turn the lights off downstairs, which signaled for people to stop playing the drinking games and start dancing on top of the tables that they were being played upon. Hanging around [redacted] once this happened, he encouraged me to start having more fun. So taking his advice, I get a top one of the tables and began dancing. Eventually, [redacted] that was dancing on the same table began dancing together. We grinded together, which means that I was behind her and both our hips were touching in a side to side motion in accordance with the beat of the song. After a couple songs, I get down and go outside to cool off and see what was happening on the patio area of the party. As I walk outside, I find [redacted] the friend who I walked to the party with, along with another one of my [redacted]. I go up to them and begin talking with them. After a period of time of doing this,[redacted] finds a case of beer on the ground which he pointed out to me. [Redacted] then hands me a beer and I start to drink it, while him and [redacted] the other friend who was with us, prepare to shotgun their beer. Before they do this, two girls are hanging around us and [redacted] asks them if they want any of the beer that they’re about to shotgun. They both accept the beer and join in with the three of us. [Redacted] all shotgun their beer or begin drinking it, while I sip on mine because I wasn’t planning on shotgunning the beer. After a period of time, I eventually find myself talking with one of the [redacted]. We were basically introducing ourselves, explaining that we went to school at the campus and that we were both on the swim team. She was explaining how she went to [redacted] and then that quipped into talking about how he had a sibling who went there as well. I thought me and her were enjoying each other’s company, when she got up close to me and said that she was astonished that I looked exactly like one of her friends at the school that she went to. I took this as a sign that she was hitting with me and after a period of more socializing, I find myself kissing her. We kissed for less than five seconds or so, until both our teeth hit each others’ and we both pull away. I remember that We both laughed about it that our teeth had hit and it was kind of awkward that I began to blush. She goes along with her friends somewhere and I head back inside the party to see if I could find anyone that I knew to hang out with. After a period of time of just hanging out inside the party and being on my phone, I see the other girl that was on the patio when [redacted] and I were talking and drinking beer. I go up to her and tell her that I liked her dancing. We started talking together since I thought we had hung out for some amount of time before. I asked her if she wanted to dance, so we began to dance together and eventually started kissing each other. I bring up the idea of her coming back to my dorm room and she agrees to accompany me back to there. We begin walking back to my room towards the path that would eventually lead up to my house. During this time, we walk down a slope in the direction towards the path that we were heading. The next thing I realize is that we were both on the ground laying next to each other because it seemed as though she lost her footing heading down the slope and I went down with her. We started laughing about it and I was just thinking of how much of a klutz I could be. I ask her if she was alright and she tells me that she thought she was. After this happened, we started kissing each other again on the ground on which we fell. When this started to happen, the thought of making it back to my dorm left my head. I thought things were going fine with [redacted] and that I just existed in a reality where nothing can go wrong or nobody could think of what I was doing as wrong. Never did I question the fact of where [redacted] and I were and where we should have been. I naively assumed that it was accepted to be intimate with someone in a place that wasn’t my room. Negating all these factors, I bring up the thought of sexual interaction with her. I idiotically rationalized that since we had been making out where each of us fell to the ground, that it would be a good idea to take things a step further since we were just in the heat of the moment at that location, I pull away from kissing her and whisper in her ear if she wanted me to finger her. She responds to me and acknowledges what I said with saying, “Yeah”. Having heard her response, I decide to take her underwear off thinking that since it was established that I would finger her, the only way of accomplishing this was to pull down her underwear. After doing so, I began to kiss her again and finger her until I thought she was satisfied with the sexual interaction that had taken place based on her moaning and the way in which she held onto me with her arms on my back. While this was occurring, I asked her if she was enjoying what I was doing, to which she gave me a positive response. I stopped the fingering and began to move my hips against the upward movement of her hips, while I kissed her neck and ear mostly. At no time did it ever occur to me, or did it ever seem that [redacted] was too drunk to know what we were doing. I would not have done anything against anyone’s will.

After a period of time of continuing these movements in coordination with her, the beer and alcohol that I consumed began to unsettle my stomach. I began to experience nausea and everything started to spin in my field of vision. I announced to [redacted] that I thought I was about to throw up because of the way my stomach was feeling to which she responds ‘oh okay,’ seemingly surprised by the fact that I felt that way. I proceed to get up from laying on the ground with her to all fours at first since my balance was still not easily being maintained. Eventually I get my feet underneath me and start walking down the slope to find an appropriate place to throw up. At this moment I realize that there is someone trying to get my attention that is quickly headed in my direction. I start walking away from the slope in which [redacted] and I just were to continue to seek out a location in which to throw up. As I proceeded to walk, the person that was trying to get my attention approached me even closer. During this time, he was speaking in some foreign language with someone else. All I could make out of what he was saying to me was something along the lines of ‘hey’ or ‘what the fuck’. Before I could even think of a response as to what to say to him to try and appease whatever his concerns with me were, I find my arms being grabbed by him. This caused me to think that he was trying to fight with me or mess with me in some way and I had no idea why. Fear went through my body, which caused me to resist him in anyway I could. I broke his physical connection to my body and tried running away from him, soon finding myself on the ground with him holding my arms down and preventing me from ever getting up. I screamed out for help ten or fifteen times before I realized my shouting would be helpless since no one was coming to help me. I repeatedly tried to get him to talk about whatever his strife was, but he refused to do so. During my time of being restrained on the ground, I heard someone was going to call the police. I thought that it was good that the police were coming because I thought they would help me. Once the police arrived, I finally stood up until I heard that I would have to get back on the ground and put my hands behind my back. I was shocked to realize that it was me who they were arresting. I swear I never would have done any of this if [redacted] wasn’t willing. I haven’t done that at any time in my life and wouldn’t do it now.

I get taken back to the police station and put in a room with a wooden bench. I was told I couldn’t use the bathroom or have anything to eat or drink and should just start sleeping on the bench. None of the police were telling me what was happening to me until someone came in after they had taken my clothes and swabbed my body for some reason. He told me that I was being charged with rape and I immediately responded with complete and utter shock. He then said to me that he agreed that it was a hard thing to wake up to and I just thought are you kidding me? Then he told me that someone was going to come in and interview me. Eventually that person came and all I could think during that interview was that I never raped someone and would never even think about doing that. I wish I would have forced myself at the time to remember every single minute detail that happened that night and express that. I wish I would have said that I know I didn’t run from [redacted] but did run from the guy that I was fearful of even if it was just a fight or flight reaction. I didn’t think what I didn’t say would be such a huge deal because I know I never raped anybody that night and that’s all that would matter. I thought that all I had to communicate was the truth- that in no way was I trying to rape anyone, in no way was I trying to harm anyone, and in no way was I trying to take advantage of anyone. However, at the end of the interview, the officer told me that they had probable cause to take me to jail and that’s where I would be going. I was in complete shock and disbelief during the entire process. I could only think of my family and getting in contact with them.

 

The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever. I can never go back to being the person I was before that day. I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life. Not only have I altered my life, but I’ve also changed [redacted] and her family’s life. I am the sole proprietor of what happened on the night that these people’s lives were changed forever. I would give anything to change what happened that night. I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [redacted]. It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair. The thought of this is in my head every second of everyday since this event has occurred. These ideas never leave my mind. During the day, I shake uncontrollably from the amount I torment myself by thinking about what has happened, I wish I had the ability to go back in time and never pick up a drink that night, let alone interact with [redacted]. I can barely hold a conversation with someone without having my mind drift into thinking these thoughts. They torture me. I go to sleep every night having been crippled by these thoughts to the point of exhaustion. I wake up having dreamt of these horrific events that I have caused. I am completely consumed by my poor judgement and ill thought actions. There isn’t a second that has gone by where I haven’t regretted the course of events I took on January 17th/18th. My shell and core of who I am as a person is forever broken from this. I am a changed person. At this point in my life, I never want to have a drop of alcohol again. I never want to attend a social gathering that involves alcohol or any situation where people make decisions based on the substances they have consumed. I never want to experience being in a position where it will have a negative impact on my life or someone else’s ever again. I’ve lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case. I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers wouldn’t want to write stories about me.

All I can do from these events moving forward is by proving to everyone who I really am as a person. I know that if I were to be placed on probation, I would be able to be a benefit to society for the rest of my life. I want to earn a college degree in any capacity that I am capable to do so. And in accomplishing this task, I can make the people around me and society better through the example I will set. I’ve been a goal oriented person since my start as a swimmer. I want to take what I can from who I was before this situation happened and use it to the best of my abilities moving forward. I know I can show people who were like me the dangers of assuming what college life can be like without thinking about the consequences one would potentially have to make if one were to make the same decisions that I made. I want to show that people’s lives can be destroyed by drinking and making poor decisions while doing so. One needs to recognize the influence that peer pressure and the attitude of having to fit in can have on someone. One decision has the potential to change your entire life. I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student. I want to demolish the assumption that drinking and partying are what make up a college lifestyle. I made a mistake, I drank too much, and my decisions hurt someone. But I never ever meant to intentionally hurt [redacted]. My poor decision making and excessive drinking hurt someone that night and I wish I could just take it all back.

If I were to be placed on probation, I can positively say, without a single shred of doubt in my mind, that I would never have any problem with law enforcement. Before this happened, I never had any trouble with law enforcement and I plan on maintaining that. I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school. I’ve lost my chance to swim in the Olympics. I’ve lost my ability to obtain a Stanford degree. I’ve lost employment opportunities, my reputation and most of all, my life. These things force me to never want to put myself in a position where I have to sacrifice everything. I would make it my life’s mission to show everyone that I can contribute and be a positive influence on society from these events that have transpired. I will never put myself through an event where it will give someone the ability to question whether I really can be a betterment to society. I want no one, male or female, to have to experience the destructive consequences of making decisions while under the influence of alcohol. I want to be a voice of reason in a time where people’s attitudes and preconceived notions about partying and drinking have already been established. I want to let young people know, as I did not, that things can go from fun to ruined in just one evening.

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Faculty Senate passes housing resolution, says goodbyes http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/10/faculty-senate-passes-housing-resolution-says-goodbyes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=faculty-senate-passes-housing-resolution-says-goodbyes http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/10/faculty-senate-passes-housing-resolution-says-goodbyes/#respond Fri, 10 Jun 2016 20:03:06 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116152 On June 9, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution to push the University to expand affordable housing for the Stanford community. The Senate also ended the year by thanking departing figures and introducing the incoming ones.

The resolution pushed the University to expand on-campus housing and provide transportation options to help all Stanford staff reasonably commute to campus. In particular, the resolution called for Stanford to provide all graduate students with housing, whether on-campus or subsidized off-campus housing. The resolution was proposed by Russell Berman, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities and chair of the Policy and Planning Board (PPB).

ASSU president Jackson Beard ’17 speaks at the final Faculty Senate meeting of the year. (Linda Cicero / University Communications)

ASSU president Jackson Beard ’17 speaks at the final Faculty Senate meeting of the year. (LINDA CICERO / University Communications)

According to Berman, Stanford has and will continue to have a housing crisis due to the overall conditions of the Bay Area housing market.  This housing crisis affects everyone in the Stanford community, including the faculty, students and staff.

In the report, Berman stated that there are a significant number of graduate students who live in either on-campus or University-subsidized, off-campus housing. Right now, due to the Escondido Housing projects, it seems that there will be more on-campus housing for graduate students, but there are a projected 2500 students who will not get any housing assistance of any kind, as the University expects to phase out any subsidized off-campus housing guarantees with on-campus housing.

“I want us to house our graduate students, or at least those who want to be housed on campus, in an affordable way,” Berman said.

In addition to the student housing problem, Berman emphasized that a good housing package is key to competitive faculty recruitment. This opinion was strongly echoed throughout the Senate, as many members recollected that prospective faculty rejected joining Stanford due to housing issues. For instance, computer science professor Jennifer Widom stated that two professors from the School of Engineering have resigned this year from their positions at Stanford when offered positions and better housing packages from other universities.

Berman also mentioned housing difficulties for postdoctoral students and Stanford staff. Although postdocs are critical to Stanford’s function as a research enterprise, none of the postdocs have any subsidies or assistance from Stanford regarding housing. Since these postdocs are often starting families, Berman mentioned that the PPB recommends that Stanford should open itself to discussion regarding the postdoc housing issue.

According to Berman, Stanford has already done a lot to ameliorate its housing crisis and emphasized that the PPB’s recommendations were aspirational given the prohibitively high costs of housing.

The PPB also recommended that the University look into expanding transportation services to help staff have more reasonable commute times. Currently, many staff make commutes over two hours long each way.

Introductions and Farewells

Towards the end of the meeting, James Campbell, history professor and vice chair of the Faculty Senate, sent the Faculty Senate chair Kathryn Moler off by singing “I’ve Grown Accustomed to This Place,” a spin-off of My Fair Lady’s “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”

In the song, Campbell reflected on the work the Faculty Senate did over the past year, focusing particularly on Moler. He also thanked President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy.

“A fond adieu to John Hennessy/On your achievements I’ll agree/And Provost Etchemendy/There’s one thing you should know/Your budget powerpoints are dazzling/Do one more before you go,” Campbell sang.

Along with the farewells, ASSU President Jackson Beard ’17 introduced herself and her chief of staff, Rachel Samuels ’17, to the Faculty Senate. Beard also outlined the ASSU executive body’s plans for the year.

“We have a lot of big plans for the coming year,” Beard said. “We are going to talk about a lot of issues… mental health and wellness, issues of sexual assault and relationship violence on campus….environmental justice and community building, social safety and things like that.”

 

Contact Christina Pan at capan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Brock Turner’s scarlet letter http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/brock-turners-scarlet-letter/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=brock-turners-scarlet-letter http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/brock-turners-scarlet-letter/#respond Fri, 10 Jun 2016 06:59:26 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116115 “I know YOUR name. Your name is Brock Allen Turner. I know your name, and I know what you did to her. I am going to do something to you that is worse than jail, Brock Allen Turner. Actually, we all are. All of us who are enraged at what you did. We are going to put you in a new kind of jail. We are going to splatter your name and face across social media so that everyone knows who you are and what you look like. So that everyone knows what you’ve done. Let us gather, as a community, on behalf of this woman, with our torches and pitchforks, ready to put Brock in his place. Notoriety. That’s your jail, Brock. Everyone reading this? Share it. Share it for the picture and the name. We’ve got our torches and pitchforks ready. We know who you are. And we are watching you. Remembering your face. Remembering your name. Putting up invisible walls around you, boxing you in, shutting you out. Shunning you. So, Brock, how does it feel to be violated?”

Kristen Mae

 

It’s been an emotional week for those of us who subscribe to the BREAKING NEWS STANFORD RAPIST BROCK TURNER Internet news channel. The victim in the Turner case has proved herself to be a wonderfully strong, eloquent young woman, who has suffered greatly, but was still able to speak out as a symbol of hope to girls everywhere. Her statement was unbelievably tragic and moving and has reached over 11 million views in its first four days of publication on BuzzFeed alone, a remarkable feat given that, all too often, the victim’s voice is silenced.

I would encourage all readers to sign this petition, advocating for much needed reforms on the Stanford campus. It is our moral responsibility to advocate for sexual assault prevention programs and counseling resources for victims. Despite my open letter to the Stanford community last week decrying harsh punishment and retributive violence, I’d like to state for the record that Stephanie Pham and Matthew Baiza are doing amazing work to help transform our community. I commend them on all their hard work and their incredible passion for justice but still maintain that long prison sentences are not the answer.

On Thursday, Brock Turner received a six-month sentence in Santa Clara County Jail and three years of probation. Judge Aaron Persky, citing Turner’s remorse and other “unusual” circumstances, condemned him to county jail, rather than state prison, a lighter sentence than many had hoped for. Ironically, Santa Clara County Jail is one of the most dysfunctional incarceration facilities in the state. Recently, three guards have been charged with murdering a mentally-ill convict. Confidential interviews have revealed widespread evidence of abuse, and officers are rarely held accountable for inflicting pain and suffering on inmates. These details are sickening and affect all inmates serving time in the facility, not just Turner. We often underestimate the savagery of incarceration, no matter the duration.

Before the sentence was given, Turner presented a statement to the court where he expressed great remorse:

“I am the sole proprietor of what happened on the night that these people’s lives were changed forever. I would give anything to change what happened that night. I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [redacted]. It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair. The thought of this is in my head every second of everyday since this event has occurred. These ideas never leave my mind. During the day, I shake uncontrollably from the amount I torment myself by thinking about what has happened. I wish I had the ability to go back in time and never pick up a drink that night, let alone interact with [redacted]. I can barely hold a conversation with someone without having my mind drift into thinking these thoughts. They torture me. I go to sleep every night having been crippled by these thoughts to the point of exhaustion. I wake up having dreamt of these horrific events that I have caused. I am completely consumed by my poor judgement and ill thought actions. There isn’t a second that has gone by where I haven’t regretted the course of events I took on January 17th/18th. My shell and core of who I am as a person is forever broken from this. I am a changed person.”

Turner is also quoted as saying:

“I’m sorry for her having to go through this entire process and having to even think about this for a second, all because of my actions that night. I can’t believe I imposed such suffering on her and I’m so sorry.”

In his statement, Turner placed partial blame on alcohol and party culture, but also expressed great remorse for the victim’s pain. Unfortunately, the media have willfully ignored much of his statement in an effort to depict Turner as a cold-blooded rapist who got off easy. Capitalizing on his white, male privilege, the media have concocted a new villain: Brock Turner – The Entitled, All-American Poster Boy for Evil. As a consequence, Turner has been fried, skinned and eaten alive by every method of mass communication imaginable. Turner now wears the 21st century Scarlet Letter, a psychological torture and a prison in its own right.

As Americans, we must all realize that our trials are filled with hyperbolic rhetoric. Some countries provide anonymity to defendants, but in the United States, the birthplace of the 24-hour news cycle, we parade the accused around like supervillains and chop them to shreds in the media. Defense attorneys paint their clients in an unrealistically positive light that helps them dodge as much responsibility as possible. The prosecution vilifies the attacker as the most heinous person in the world and presents the victim as flawless. Attorneys are well-accustomed to this big, time-consuming game and go to extremes until everyone is beaten to a pulp and exhausted. The truth in the Turner case likely lies somewhere in between these extremes, and we must never forget that.

When we take these bombastic distortions at face value, we instinctually dehumanize the perpetrator. We use words like “cold-blooded rapist,” “predator” and “monster” so that we can justify violence against a young boy. This week, I’ve been absolutely stunned by those fighting to protect the rights of victims as they call for revenge rape, 14-year prison sentences and brutality against Turner’s family and Judge Persky. For the first time in my life, I fully understand how a lynch mob operates, and frankly, I’m appalled.

Last week, I called on the Stanford community to practice empathy for others. Now, I call on the world to practice basic decency towards another human being. Hate and revenge are never the answer. Vengeance is exceedingly detrimental to creating safer spaces for everyone. Brock Turner has done a terrible thing, but he is not pure evil. He has shown remorse and a desire to redeem himself. If we are sincere in our advocacy for rehabilitation over retribution, then we should give him that opportunity.

 

– Saunders Hayes ’16

Contact Saunders Hayes at sbdhayes ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Strong side: Mission, faith help shape Dallas Lloyd into team leader http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/strong-side-mission-faith-help-shape-dallas-lloyd-into-team-leader/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=strong-side-mission-faith-help-shape-dallas-lloyd-into-team-leader http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/strong-side-mission-faith-help-shape-dallas-lloyd-into-team-leader/#respond Fri, 10 Jun 2016 06:04:39 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116075 If you take a drive down the 800 block of El Camino Real, it’s impossible to miss the massive billboard at the road’s intersection with Galvez Street. On the billboard these days are close-up shots of four Cardinal football players in a row, uniformed but helmetless, their intense expressions obligating passersby to, as the billboard advertises, buy their season tickets for Stanford home games.

Working right to left, you have Solomon Thomas, expected to be the rock of the Cardinal’s defense this upcoming season; Michael Rector, the Cardinal’s primary returning wide receiver; Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey, the face of Stanford football after becoming the spark of the offense; and on the far left, rising fifth-year senior, safety Dallas Lloyd.

Lloyd may appear to be the odd one out on this billboard. While he was the team’s primary strong safety last season and played in all 14 games, he’s not as lethal on defense as Thomas, not as dominant or illustrious as McCaffrey (though no one really is) and probably not as well-known as Rector.

Beyond the billboard, Lloyd is used to being the odd one out on the team itself. He’s a Mormon, the only married player on the team and a former missionary who spent two years in Chile before coming to Stanford.

But it’s those very idiosyncrasies that have shaped him into the football player he is today, someone who deserves to be up on that billboard.

***

Most of the 11,000 football players across the 128 FBS schools follow a similar path: Get recruited, sign with a school, show up to college the summer after you graduate from high school to prepare for the fall football season and, if you’re lucky, earn some playing time right off the bat.

A small fraction of these players — 147 from last year’s FBS teams — deviate from the norm: They put their football careers aside and went on two-year missions before heading off to college.

The vast majority of these former missionaries go to school at BYU, Utah State or Utah, though 11 of them play at Pac-12 schools (specifically Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona and Arizona State). Six of the 147 former missionaries are in school out in California, and three of those six — rising junior Brandon Fanaika, rising sophomore Sean Barton and Lloyd — are at Stanford.

Unlike that of other schools that were recruiting him, Stanford’s coaching staff was supportive of Lloyd’s decision to spend two years on a mission before arriving at the Farm; thus, while Lloyd, recruited as a quarterback, was part of the 2010 signing class, he wouldn’t come to Stanford until 2012.

After getting past the recruiting hurdle, the challenges had just begun for Lloyd.

While some missionaries get called to serve within the United States, others, such as Lloyd, spend their two years in a foreign country. He was initially excited to have been matched with a Spanish-speaking country, since he knew some Spanish.

“When we landed in Chile, I got off the plane with all these other missionaries from the United States. We heard people speaking Spanish and I was like, ‘This is not what they taught me in the United States … this is not Spanish. This is not ok,’” Lloyd said. “I couldn’t understand anything.”

Along with not being able to see his family for two years, he was allowed to email his loved ones just once a week, on Mondays, for only an hour. No phone calls, texts or social media were permitted throughout the mission, though he could Skype his family twice a year, on Christmas and on Mother’s Day.

There was no one with whom Lloyd could throw around a football, and the areas where he lived did not have any gyms. Instead, his workouts consisted of running through the streets in the early morning before his studies started at 8:30 a.m. He had to convince his companion, a person he’d be paired with for as little as six weeks or as long as three months, to come along for his morning workouts, even if the companion had no desire to work out.

The missionaries would spend nine hours a day talking to Chileans on the streets, trying to teach them about Mormonism, but they were not typically well-received. While some Chileans would kindly decline to speak with them, others would tell them to get lost (“gringo, go home”). People would often invite the missionaries to their homes but would be absent when they arrived later that day.

Stray dogs would chase after the missionaries — there was a running joke that you couldn’t complete your mission without being bitten by one of them. At one point Lloyd couldn’t sleep for two weeks because he was so uncomfortable from the fleas that were eating him alive at night. People would throw rocks at Lloyd and the other missionaries, and once, a group of teenagers spat on him.

“It was so hard. It was so hard, looking back on it…” Lloyd said. “If you can go on a mission for two years, you can do anything.”

***

Spending two years on a mission instead of coming straight to Stanford seemed at first to be a setback for Lloyd’s football career.

Lloyd arrived at the Farm for the 2012 season, one year removed from the Andrew Luck era. As Kevin Hogan earned the starting quarterback job from then-starter Josh Nunes, Lloyd did not see any action. Things weren’t much better his sophomore year: He got the ball twice in the Cardinal’s first game of the season against San Jose State — the first time in the second quarter, rushing for 7 yards, and the second time fumbling the ball early in the fourth. After that, he would appear in six other games and only get the ball four more times in 2013, recording 26 total rush yards on the season. He never passed the ball that year.

“It was really frustrating,” Lloyd said. “I was upset at myself and I let these thoughts of doubt come into my mind, like, ‘If I [hadn’t] gone on a mission, then I would have been able to come straight to Stanford.’”

With Hogan’s spot at quarterback seemingly secured for the next two years and Lloyd’s prospects not looking promising, Lloyd even considered transferring from Stanford.

“I realized they were all just excuses,” he said. “They were justifying the fact that I wasn’t getting it done.”

“It’s really sad that those two years, the best two years of my life, became an excuse for why I was so frustrated,” he added. “Looking back, it had nothing to do with those two years. I was a better person and football player because of those two years.”

Instead of choosing to transfer or spend the remainder of his career on the bench, Lloyd turned his efforts to finding an alternate way to get on the field and contribute towards the team’s success: He would make the switch from offense to defense — from quarterback to safety — in his junior year.

After having finally gotten a grasp of Stanford’s offensive playbook, considered one of the most complex in college football, Lloyd had to completely switch gears and start over, learning new techniques, changing his diet, turning to film and relying on his older teammates — “Jordan Richards was the best. I had so many questions… He was so annoyed with me, I’m sure.” — to show him the ropes.

“It was really hard,” Lloyd said. “I hadn’t backpedaled since high school — which was like five years ago. I felt like a freshman again.”

Defensive backs coach Duane Akina, who had had experience coaching players who transitioned from offense to defense, came to Stanford at around the same time that Lloyd made the switch and helped him get used to his new position. Former Cardinal and NFL greats Richard Sherman and John Lynch, who both switched from offense to defense during their careers, offered their advice and helped him realize that his offensive foundation would not go to waste — in fact, it could actually be used to better analyze opposing offenses.

After playing in nine games as a junior, Lloyd finally had the opportunity in 2015 to make a name for himself: He appeared in all 14 games and, with fellow former offensive teammate Kodi Whitfield, filled the role of the Cardinal’s primary safeties. Lloyd’s 55 tackles were third-best on the team behind NFL-bound Blake Martinez and Aziz Shittu.

“I just felt like it was all meant to be,” Lloyd said. “I knew just like anything else that my experience was going to be what I made it.

“The platform was there and the work was there for me,” he added. “I just took advantage of it.”

***

Before he decided to go on a mission, Lloyd had reached a point where he knew he was at a crossroads with his faith: He was either in or out.

“I reflected upon the experiences I’d had in my life … the best moments that I’ve had, which have been when I’ve been serving other people or loving other people,” Lloyd said. “Despite all the trials and the [internal] storm that was going on, I felt peace and happiness deep down inside when I believed in Jesus Christ and when I tried to follow Him.”

And that’s why, despite all the difficulties from those two years, going on his mission was one of the best times of Lloyd’s life.

“From the outside, I wasn’t getting anything out of it,” Lloyd said. “But every day, you go out and you talk to people on the streets, you get to know them, you ask if you can come teach them. You talk to them about their families, you go into their homes and see what they’re like. It was the most amazing thing.”

Along with the people the missionaries would approach on the street, they got to know Chilean Mormons. The Chileans would have them over for lunch, their biggest meal of the day, or would come over for “family home evenings,” once-a-week get-togethers that allowed the Chileans to get to know the missionaries and learn more about Mormonism.

The missionaries wouldn’t have to teach the Chileans about their faith to serve them: Lloyd recalls weeding a woman’s yard for the entire day, even though she said she didn’t want to hear anything about Mormonism.

“Literally, it’s 24/7, you’re just focused on helping other people,” Lloyd said.

One day in particular stands out to him: Six families had signed up for appointments for the afternoon, but when Lloyd and his fellow missionaries arrived at their homes, no one was there. The same day, a stray dog had attacked one of the guys Lloyd was with, and people had thrown rocks at the group. They were about to go home but took a minute to pray, asking to find someone that they could help as the day closed. They looked up when they were done and saw on the street ahead a single house with its light on.

They approached the house and called out to see if anyone was home. A woman peeked out the window and her eyes went wide; she explained to the missionaries that she had just been praying for help — her husband was planning to leave her and her young son the following day.

“There were moments like that throughout my whole mission that made all of the days where horrible things happened or where nothing happened despite our hard work so worth it,” Lloyd said.

“That was probably the happiest period of time I’ve ever had.”

***

For his first two years at Stanford, Lloyd approached football in a way that is probably unrecognizable to most of his teammates today.

“My first two years here, I got really focused on myself and was really unhappy,” Lloyd said. “I [have] all these hard stories from my mission, but at the end of the day, those were two of the most happy years of my life because I wasn’t focusing on myself, I was focusing on other people. I finally had a wake-up call that that [also] applies to football.”

He figured out how to apply what he had found to be so beautiful about his mission — focusing on others instead of himself — to football: not simply by switching from quarterback to safety so he could contribute to the team, but by becoming a leader for the defense and the team as a whole.

“He definitely does everything in his power to make it so that other people are appreciated,” linebacker Noor Davis said. “He goes out of his way to help people.”

“He’s really our comfort blanket back there,” fellow safety Whitfield said. “He has the ability to calm everyone down if things aren’t going [well] and to inspire people.”

Lloyd even stepped up to become the holder for field goals this past season after kicker Conrad Ukropina asked him to assume the role with the graduation of former holder Ben Rhyne.

“He dedicated himself to it when he really didn’t have to. He was going to start at safety, regardless,” Ukropina said. “He doesn’t have to work that hard, but he does.”

Already during this offseason, Lloyd is one of two seniors who helped organize a meeting among the leadership of the team to discuss the mentality they want to have going into summer workouts and ways in which to better help the younger players prepare for the upcoming season. He’s also planning to hold casual film sessions for the defense throughout the summer. His teammates already speak of him as a strong possibility to be one of next season’s captains.

***

“If you apply too much of Mormonism to football when you’re on the field, you’re not going to get along very well,” Lloyd said. “You won’t stand a chance.”

That may be true to a certain extent — it’s difficult to apply the peace-loving tenets of Mormonism to a game as brutal as football. But the ways in which Lloyd’s faith has shaped him as a player — one who can respond to obstacles and come out better from them, one who constantly puts others before himself — are undeniable.

The parallels go deeper, too.

To Lloyd, Mormonism also offers a promise for what is to come after life on earth: a knowledge that he can be with his family — his wife Libby, his parents Casey and Angie, and his siblings Jake, Ellie and Savannah — and friends, forever.

“I think about all the relationships that I’ve built while I’m here on earth, and I don’t want those to end,” he said. “It just doesn’t feel natural, it just doesn’t seem right for all the knowledge that we’ve acquired, all the experiences that we’ve had, to come just to an abrupt end… I have hope in that.”

Those same relationships are what says he’ll most take away from his five years at Stanford.

“My teammates, I love them. They’re such amazing people,” Lloyd said. “My coaches, my classmates, all of them have just touched me, inspired my life.”

Lloyd names gratitude as one of the things that’s made him happiest.

“Whenever I’m complaining or moaning and groaning because of workouts, or because I’m waking up early, or because I have to eat healthy … I just need to take a step back and realize how amazing this is and how grateful I am to be able to run around, to have a body where I can play, to have coaches and teammates and [to spend] time with such amazing people on campus that I never would have met [otherwise].”

These moments often manifest themselves in the middle of football games.  

“I just have a second to look around, at the camera that’s floating down, to look at a hundred thousand fans and my teammates and the other team,” Lloyd said. “I just take a deep breath and just realize how beautiful this whole experience is and how lucky I am to be out there.”

***

In the final months of his mission, people told Lloyd that if he had worked his hardest and put his heart into everything he did, leaving would be one of the most difficult parts of the experience.

He doubted it. He was excited to finally see his family after two years, to get back to football and to start his life at Stanford.

But when he got on the plane to leave, he looked out the window at the Andes and started crying.

“I’d given my all for these people and had so many amazing experiences. And I didn’t want to go home,” he said. “I know it’ll probably be the same thing when I’m done here.”

Two years of his mission and four years of Stanford later, Lloyd finds himself nearing another ending: to his Stanford education and possibly his football career.

There’s plenty of work to do up until then: The players have a few weeks until their grueling summer workouts start, and then before they know it, the season will be underway. Lloyd, who has been accepted into a co-term program in the communications department, will return to the field as a fifth-year senior, looking to build upon his performance last season as he leaves his final mark on the Farm.

“I’m afraid to think about the day when it’s all said and done,” Lloyd said.

He pauses. “For now, I just want to leave my all. I want to have no regrets.”

He shifts from Stanford back to his mission — a transition he makes often, though one that seems natural, seamless. He describes how his last few months in Chile were the best because he worked his hardest and with the most urgency.

“I know the same thing is going to apply here,” Lloyd said. “I know it’s going to be the best seven months.”

His next two sentences are still about Stanford — but they are just vague enough that they might mean something more.

“I never want to leave. This is the best life.”

 

Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Board of Trustees approves budget, construction projects http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/board-of-trustees-approves-budget-construction-projects/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=board-of-trustees-approves-budget-construction-projects http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/board-of-trustees-approves-budget-construction-projects/#respond Fri, 10 Jun 2016 05:59:55 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116128 The Board of Trustees met this week to approve the University’s budget, move forward with four building projects and celebrate outgoing President John Hennessy and his wife Andrea Hennessy’s joint contributions to Stanford over the past 15 years.

Budget

The Board reviewed and approved the University’s 2016-2017 operating budget, as well as its $4.1 billion capital plan — which projects three years ahead in capital expenses — and its roughly $1 billion capital budget, which represents the first year of spending under the capital plan.  

Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82  had already discussed details of the budget at a Faculty Senate meeting last month, where he called the 2016-2017 summary “the most sobering budget report since ’09.” Although the budget has a surplus of $121 million, the Provost was concerned about diminishing government support for research that the University has had to cover with subsidies, as well as a 6.9 percent growth in Stanford’s expenses that trumped its 2.6 percent growth in revenue.

Steven Denning MBA ’78, chair of the Board of Trustees, echoed a cautious approach to Stanford’s finances.

“We’re being very conservative… just given the performance of the endowment and the importance of that payout to the overall budget,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re being overly cautious, but appropriately prudent and cautious with regard to what we ultimately approved.”

The budget increased modestly by about 2.5 percent overall, Denning said. He highlighted almost $3 million in new funding for sexual assault support, education and adjudication resources as particularly important. The funding, which Denning noted was one of the largest single allocations in the budget, will support new confidential counselors and new staff in the Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) and the Title IX Office.

Denning also highlighted the University’s commitment to student financial aid. The budget includes about $286 million in direct financial aid, which represents a roughly 4 percent increase from last academic year.

Large items in the capital plan included graduate housing. Spurred by a critical housing shortage for graduate students, the University is planning a major construction project in Escondido Village that will add a net of 2,000 new beds.

New buildings

The Board gave concept approval to the Denning House, the future home of the Knight-Hennessy scholarship program announced this February, which will bring graduate students from around the world to Stanford for three years of study. While the Knight-Hennessy scholarship resembles the Rhodes Scholarship in many respects, Denning noted that Stanford’s program will be three times the size of the Rhodes and will be open to students from all countries.

The planned Denning House is relatively small, at 20,000 square feet, and will be located near Lake Lagunita. Site approval is expected this October. Rather than provide housing (Knight-Hennessy scholars will live all throughout campus), the Denning House will serve as an “interaction hub” for the 300 total students that program will host once it is fully established. The building will be completed by September 2018, when the Knight-Hennessy scholars program is set to launch with an initial cohort of 50 students.

The Board also gave construction approval to three projects. It green-lighted construction for the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Biology Research Building, which will host about half of the biology department’s personnel when completed in late 2018. It also approved the replacement of apartments in Kingscote Gardens near Lake Lagunita, with a central hub for students to seek counseling from a number of offices related to sexual assault, mental health and diversity. Finally, the Board approved renovations of the Schwab Residential Center that Denning said will put its facilities on par with the GSB’s newer Highland Hall.

Other activities

The Board also heard short presentations from Stanford faculty on intellectual property law, poverty and educational inequality and Stanford’s interdisciplinary centers such as Bio-X and the Woods Institute for the Environment.

Finally, last night, the Board honored John and Andrea Hennessy with a dinner at Bing Concert Hall. Denning said the event emphasized, among other accomplishments, both John and Andrea Hennessy’s work to make the arts “core to a Stanford education” with construction of the arts district and the new programming that followed. The Board presented a Diebenkorn painting as its parting gift to the Hennessy couple.

 

Contact Hannah Knowles at hknowles ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Members of working group on Greek life financial aid announced http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/members-of-working-group-on-greek-life-financial-aid-announced/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=members-of-working-group-on-greek-life-financial-aid-announced http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/members-of-working-group-on-greek-life-financial-aid-announced/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 20:42:45 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116124 The members of a group of students and administrators who will work on a proposal to provide financial aid to help low-income students access Greek life and other opportunities has been announced. Three Undergraduate Senators, Mylan Gray ’19, Khaled Aounallah ’19 and
Gabe Rosen ’19, will represent the Senate on the working group. Four students involved in greek life will also be part of the working group. They are Kayla Guillory ’18 of the Inter-Sorority Council, Sean Means ’18 of the Inter-Fraternity Council, Samantha Hoffman ’17 of the Multicultural Greek Council and Benjamin Williams ’18 of the African-American Fraternal and Sororal Association.

Administration members of the working group were listed as Karen Cooper of the Financial Aid Office, Nanci Howe of Student Activities and Leadership, Amanda Rodriguez and Joseph Brown.
Contact Caleb Smith at caleb17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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A paper is worth a thousand pictures http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/a-paper-is-worth-a-thousand-words/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-paper-is-worth-a-thousand-words http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/a-paper-is-worth-a-thousand-words/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:57 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116111 I am a photographer; I can’t remember the last time I actually wrote in The Daily (it was probably a caption in 2013 or something). However, I do remember my first time in The Stanford Daily office – it was the Volume 242 fellows meeting, and I was a terrified, intimidated freshman who happened to like photography. Walking around the second floor of an office that wasn’t that much smaller than my entire high school, I found myself amongst a couple guys standing next to a “photo” sign. We talked cameras; I signed up for my eighty-seventh mailing list and left thinking nothing would happen.

Of course, it is only when nothing is supposed to happen that everything begins to happen. The first photo assignment I ever did was a couple days later. It was a women’s soccer game, and I was terrified. Somehow, I got through it, and once I started seeing my name in the paper, it became a drug.  Bolstered by the encouragement, I took more and more photos. Eventually, I ended up getting amazing opportunities as a Daily photographer, from being on the field at our second consecutive Rose Bowl game to seeing my name underneath a photo in The New York Times. My time here gave me so many opportunities that I just wouldn’t have gotten as a general Stanford student, and I was lucky enough to pick up friends along the way.

I’m not great with words. As a journalist, I chose the camera as my tool. But for The Daily, there really are no words to describe how amazing my time here has been, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

 

Contact Avi Bagla at abagla ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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What matters to you and why? http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/what-matters-to-you-and-why/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-matters-to-you-and-why http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/what-matters-to-you-and-why/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:53 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116092 I remember having to answer that question four years ago when I was a wide-eyed high-school senior applying to Stanford University — and having no idea how to answer it. Four years later, on the eve of my graduation from this incredible institution, I’m not afraid to say that I still have no idea how to answer that question.

In a lot of ways, I envy the me of four years ago. Life was a lot simpler back then. What mattered was getting good grades, doing lots of extracurriculars and acing my standardized tests so that I could go to an elite college and make my parents proud.

But at the same time, I now look back at 15-year-old Do with a wistful sadness. I think about how much pressure I was under — both internal and external — to fulfill everybody’s expectations and to be, in a word, absolutely perfect. I think about how much I internalized it until that pressure and I were one and the same — my life wasn’t anything more than a constant, me-against-the-world struggle to be the best.

I told myself that was what I wanted in life, because that’s all anyone ever told me I should be (skipping three grades tends to inflate people’s expectations of you a little bit). I was taught that failure is unacceptable, that it would be a waste of my “incredible talent” not to use it to “change the world” or “make a difference” or some other clichéd collection of buzzwords that still make me cringe to hear.

I know that at Stanford, I’m surrounded by lots of people who have owned that exact mindset — because, like it or not, that’s what it takes to get into this university today. And on a seemingly perfect campus surrounded by seemingly perfect people, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of locking even more into the idea that you, too, need to be perfect — to “live up to” Stanford or to take full advantage of it.

But what does it mean to be perfect?

I think I learned too late that perfection, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. You can’t let anyone else define the standards that you should hold yourself to, because what’s really to be gained from forever chasing others’ standards and letting others determine your path?

Too often, I look around at Stanford and find somebody doing cool research, somebody coding an app, somebody creating thoughtful works of art, somebody trying to bring about societal change — and wonder, “Why am I not doing that?”

Especially over the past year, with my time at Stanford dwindling, I’ve wondered to myself if I almost “wasted” Stanford and the crazy amount of material and human resources that it has to offer. There are so many more classes I could have taken, so many more professors I could have talked to, so many more groups I could have joined. It’s a scary feeling, knowing that you’ve spent four years at a place that people all over the world literally dream about and thinking that you might have wasted that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But the important thing that I’ve come to realize is that unlike what high school me was led to believe, there’s more to life than doing things and achieving things just for the sake of doing things and achieving things. For too long, I simply went through the motions — and for the first time, I allowed myself to stop, smell the (cardinal red) roses and really just be happy.

I let myself mess around and take naps when I felt overworked, made a bigger emphasis on taking time to be with my friends and most importantly, found a community and a job that I loved at The Stanford Daily. I let myself stop pushing the pedal to the metal on an engineering career that I’m still not sure about, and as a result, I woke up every day with a smile on my face, knowing that I was trading stress and unhappiness for something that I genuinely loved.

The most important thing that Stanford taught me is that it’s okay to not be perfect — whatever “perfect” is supposed to mean, anyway. I realized that it’s only because of the things that I didn’t do — not the things that I did do — that I had the time to truly slow life down and appreciate the things that really do matter to me: my incredible friends and family, this amazing campus, the collection of forged moments that combine to make the Stanford experience so special.

 

Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Colorful imperfections http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/colorful-imperfections/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=colorful-imperfections http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/colorful-imperfections/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:48 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116110 In the summer of 2012, 2016 was basically a nice idea with a lot of dreams attached. It was a mark of camaraderie between people who would experience completely different things in the same place, arbitrarily caught in the cross-hairs of the same time. Four years later, it’s strange how quickly that number we’ve been squinting at in our distant calendars has become a clearly defined end to this chapter, as we collectively prepare to pack our bags and find our next adventures.

If my time here has taught me anything, it’s that “Stanford experiences” are as unique as the students themselves. Each of us steps onto this campus with our own preconceived notions, plans and checklists. But as we confront people and ideas that challenge the things that defined us in our college applications, we evolve. We become new people, with new ideals and perhaps a growing sense of uncertainty in what we had been so sure of before. In my four years here, it feels like I’ve been at least four different people –– the workaholic, the determined procrastinator, the athlete and the best friend; and in between, I’ve been or imagined becoming 10 times as many versions of myself. No one ever told me that finding myself would be an iterative process in creative reconstruction. Even years later, little by little, I’m finding new people, principles and goals that fit the many pieces and contradictions that make up who I am today. No two years here have been alike, and I’ve learned time and again that Stanford is very rarely what you expect but is, if you allow it to be, often exactly what you need.

That’s not to say my time here has been perfect. I arrived on this campus with an unconscious acceptance that my self-worth was entirely defined by other people’s perceptions of me. My need for the affirmation of a good grade, my sense of right and wrong, even my relationship with my own body, were all determined by a series of people I’d encountered along the way whose views I’d adopted without ever stopping to wonder why. I was a mosaic of arbitrary encounters, and when obstacles arose that challenged each part of who I believed I was, it turned out the pieces weren’t that firmly placed and came crashing down. But in the darkness that followed, I realized I had the strength to pull myself out of those spaces, and I emerged with a newfound appreciation for the vibrance of the light and love at the end of the tunnel.

Senior year has been an incredible lesson in the power of adversity to transform my capacity for happiness, empathy and strength in day-to-day life. Something about understanding and accepting the sum of my parts and pasts has given me the courage to take on new challenges I’d shied away from previously.  I spoke up in classes when I didn’t have the answer; I forged friendships out of honest conversations about who I am and who I’ve been, and I learned that love built on a true understanding of deeper flaws can be beautifully transformational to your relationship with yourself.

Perhaps the experience I’m most grateful for this year, though, is the past volume I’ve spent as Managing Editor of Opinions at The Daily. My hopes to help people invest in and better understand themselves merged with my desire to chase honest conversations and created an experience I never saw coming. I spent 15 weeks combing through perspectives, trying to help people hone their voices to speak across communities. In the process, I learned important lessons about the value and limitations of free speech and gained a deeper understanding of the way individuals can shape the identity of a community, given a space for their views to be heard. Inspired by everyday people using their voices to make an impact in their communities, I found myself jumping headlong into opportunities to challenge myself and help others. And somewhere along the way, I found myself engulfed in a colorful community of incredible people unapologetically committed to making Stanford everything they imagined it could be. I learned that it doesn’t take a miracle to inspire and affect someone’s life. Just a few hundred words and a story.

There is a lot I’ll miss about Stanford. It’s been my home for four years, and, as the place where I have made memories and redefined so many parts of myself, it would be impossible to close this chapter without a bit of nostalgia. But I also know that, while I may be stepping into something wholly unfamiliar, Stanford has prepared me well for my next adventure. The version of me that first arrived on this campus never dreamed that I would be leaving the person I am today, but I’m glad she chose this place to make her start. Stanford allowed me to challenge myself in entirely new ways, and taught me to find strength in adversity to forge a path that was entirely my own. In short, it empowered to change my life permanently and for the better. And for that, I am forever grateful.

Contact Anja Young at ayoung3 ‘at’ stanford.edu

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For love and for light http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-for-love-and-for-light/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=me-ay-for-love-and-for-light http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-for-love-and-for-light/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:48 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116084 There’s something about you, Stanford. A feeling, a warmth, a spirit. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It seems no one can. Four years with you and I still can’t define what it is that has left me so speechless with gratitude. For the mishaps, the fortunes, the wins, the losses, the heartaches, the loves and, mainly, for your imperfections — all I can say is, thank you.

Thank you, Stanford, for your obsession with technology. Though my relationship with your obsession has been rocky, it has taught me that pure human intimacy can never be replicated. You scared me at first. As a freshman, I quickly became overwhelmed by the apps and websites and messaging platforms attempting to virtualize how we interact. I feared we were diluting our rich three-dimensional lives into the two-dimensionality of our screens. I feared we would no longer be able to connect, empathize and understand others as we were too preoccupied chasing the next notification, the next “like,” the next hit. I feared we would lose conversation and the art of sparring back and forth on spontaneous topics about the world around us. Indeed, many of these fears came to pass. We speak less, we connect less, we are more anxious. We are incapable of remembering things. We are told we are more connected, but in reality, we feel less close.

However, the realization that technology fails to truly satisfy our craving for human interaction is not a depressing one but a beautiful one. It has pushed me to seek valuable, authentic and fulfilling relationships more so than ever before. In essence, Stanford, your obsession with technology has not scared me away from human interaction but has instead showed me what truly matters: time, attention and authenticity.

By natural extension, thank you, Stanford, for the people I have met here. I am grateful for the friendships that have grown so deeply over the years, the friendships where no words have to be spoken — just a look, a glance, an understanding of mutual love. The friends you can call on at any hour of the night knowing full well you’ll be answered with a wholehearted “Hi, what’s up?” — these are the friendships that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Though they do not incur depth, I am also grateful for those fleeting, passersby friendships. You know — those where we say hi and then we quickly say bye. These interactions most commonly exist on the way to class, in line at Starbucks or ever-so-briefly at a party. At the beginning of my time at Stanford, I became infuriated by these interactions, believing they personified the apocalyptic downfall of our ability to socialize. On the contrary, however, they have now taught me that the beauty of intimacy is in its rarity and that those fleeting hello’s are spaces in which to practice compassion and consideration for those we might feel less connected to.

Though it is less overtly spoken about, I am also immensely grateful for the tougher, darker relationships at Stanford. Not the odd tussle with a friend but real pain, real darkness, real loneliness. For college students, these often appear in the form utter heartache, in which the agony seems to take all the air from your lungs, where your mind seems drained of light, where you can almost physically feel your heart crack open with pain. Yet I have learned such suffering is necessary. It peels back new layers, quietly building strength of character, fueling empathy for others and expanding resilience. Thank you, Stanford, for pain, because through it, you have given me the opportunity to grow and to love.

Thirdly, thank you, Stanford, for your natural beauty. It is one of your greatest, most incontestable gifts to us. No stronger antidepressant, no lighter touch, no greater joy exists than the feeling of the sun glowing on my face while walking the Dish, or Lake Lag, or through the Quad. We live in a world of overwhelming politicization, labels, controversies and violence, and yet your winding trails, bright flowers, Byzantine mosaics, red roofs and beige bricks provide us with a sanctuary and an optimism that brightens everything that we do.

Finally, thank you to all the forces that make up Stanford and the administration. It is the Stanford way to rise up and speak out, and I have been encouraged to see how positive change can be, the power that change holds and how it can open doors for those who had previously never been given the opportunity. To be sure, Stanford, you have not been perfect. Causes have been ignored, justice has not always been served, worthy people have been pushed aside. Yet in your imperfections, Stanford, you have also taught me that good change is steady and that true radicalism is not always an explosive innovation but a task demanding patience and a relentless pursuit of action. In its very essence, you have taught me to be optimistic about change without being spiteful of tradition.

For your love and for your light, all I can say is thank you, Stanford. I leave you not with a 4.0 GPA but with an unbounded appreciation for imperfection. It is through imperfection that I have learned, grown, gained and been strengthened throughout my time here. As I ready myself to leave, I have realized that imperfection does not mean inadequate, it means human — and that is the greatest gift we have.

 

Contact Alexa Liautaud at alexal ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Thanks for the memories http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-title-tbd/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=me-ay-title-tbd http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-title-tbd/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:41 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116083 People who know me will tell you that when I first walked into The Daily’s office in the fall of 2012, I was an immature, overexcited freshman. Just under four years later, I’m proud to say that part of me — the immature, overexcited part — hasn’t really gone away at all. The one difference now, though, is that I see myself telling stories from years ago and, well, turning into one of those boring seniors that I always raised my eyebrows at as a freshman.

I have the dubious honor of being the only Daily staffer in recent memory to be fired, and then re-hired, in the course of a week. The fact that this entire incident happened at all is a testament to what a great place the paper is and the kind of people that work there. I took a stand with several other editors on a matter of journalistic ethics (we won’t discuss it now, but ask around if you’re curious — it’s an interesting story), and I’m glad that I did. What I’m even more grateful for, though, is that when I stood up for an issue that I thought mattered, I was surrounded by a group of people who stuck to their principles and stood right up there with me.

That’s what makes The Daily such a magical place to me — in the middle of all of the late nights writing, editing and filling up the second floor whiteboards with semi-appropriate quotes, I realized at some point along the way that I was surrounded by people who believed in things, and that they were my friends. I probably have more friends that are or were Daily staffers than from any other group on campus. (There are way too many of you to list here; I’d go over the word limit). The best part about making friends at the Daily? A lot of them are younger than you, and I’ve had the chance to vicariously relive the sheer excitement of being a freshman twice.

There certainly are a lot of other perks that made my time at Stanford so much fun — the free food from CoHo (RIP) and Treehouse (welcome back) definitely meant something, but I’m not sure what. Certainly, the idea of paying for food at either of these places sits uncomfortably with me, and it terrifies me that I can have a long, detailed conversation about the quality of Treehouse’s cheese pizza on any given day.

What amazes me now, looking back at the past few years, is how much time I whiled away at the office when I should have been doing homework, writing for the paper or doing anything productive. I don’t have the faintest idea of exactly what I did with most of my time at the office, but a few memories certainly stand out — the April Fools’ Day paper one year that claimed that Stanford had revoked undergraduate admission for the incoming class, or the time one of us broke one of the frames on the wall with a football we were tossing around. One of my fondest memories at The Daily is tossing a football around for the first time on Panama Mall one late night. I actually learned how to throw a football from Sam Girvin that night outside the office — coming from India, football wasn’t something I grew up with, and I had to learn and relearn the rules of the game. Being around football-crazed people like Winston Shi, Do-Hyoung Park and Vihan Lakshman my freshman and sophomore years certainly fixed that, and thanks to them, I no longer sound like a complete idiot when I talk about sports.

There are so many more experiences that spring to mind about my time at Stanford and The Daily. In all honesty, I’ve probably spent more time in the office than anywhere else on campus, certainly after dark at least. It’s almost an impulse at this point — to swing by the office, even if for just a few minutes, every evening once it’s dark outside. What drew me to this wonderful community four years ago was an interest in journalism and the promise of free food and drinks. I’m leaving now with some of my closest friends, the ability to write, and believe it or not, the maturity that comes with pushing a paper out at 2 a.m. night after night.

Really, that’s what I want to say to The Daily, and the people in it. Thank you — I can’t imagine a Stanford experience without you, and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of yours.

 

Contact Nitish Kulkarni at nitishk2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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And the fair land http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-and-the-fair-land/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=me-ay-and-the-fair-land http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-and-the-fair-land/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:18 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116102 Anyone whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

So begin my 700 favorite words in the canon of American journalism.

Every year on Thanksgiving Day, the Wall Street Journal reprints Vermont Royster’s editorial “And the Fair Land.” Some might wonder why. “And the Fair Land” embodies pretty much everything the movement towards modernity has set out to eliminate. It is written in purple prose that borders on the verbose. It pays lip service to America’s problems, but it assigns no blame, and for many today, the desire to unify is derided as the public face of cowardice. It is written from a perspective of great privilege. It glorifies the American experiment with unapologetic admiration.

Ha, ha, some wags might say. That’s exactly why the Journal runs it.

Ha, ha, some Stanford wags might say. That’s exactly why Winston Shi likes it.

I suppose they’d be right on both points.

***

America, though many know it not, is one of the great underdeveloped countries of the world; what it reaches for exceeds by far what it has grasped.

One hundred and twenty-five years ago, Stanford University was founded. Four years after I began my time at Stanford, I remain perplexed by the fact that so much of my identity is tied to a university built by the most infamous person in Chinese-American history. But like the country that inspired its founding and made it great, Stanford is a school full of promise and wonder and brilliance and contradictions. It has always been.

Today, we are most popularly viewed as the university of Silicon Valley, but even many of the people in startup culture here might concede that it’s hard to define what that even means: Today, innovation and looking forward are, for good reason, derided as buzzwords. But they are also an ethos, and as an ethos they turn the future into the present, both through science and through shifting the perspective of the human mind. With impertinence and imperiousness, Stanford offers itself not just as the best example of America’s present but a vision for its future.

As the Editorial Board wrote its final piece for the year, I suggested that Stanford was the university that had captured the American zeitgeist. Everybody — myself included — immediately started giggling at the sheer pretentiousness of that statement. But there is something to Stanford that I still believe embodies something special about the American experience.

***

So the visitor returns thankful for much of what he has seen, and, in spite of everything, an optimist about what his country might be. Yet the visitor, if he is to make an honest report, must also note the air of unease that hangs everywhere… How can they turn from melancholy when at home they see young arrayed against old, black against white, neighbor against neighbor, so that they stand in peril of social discord.

Stanford is a curious place: a university built in the service of meritocracy, but a place of privilege nonetheless.

At Stanford, I’ve found that we’re relatively willing to acknowledge that the deck is stacked in our favor. Neither Leland nor Jane Stanford could have imagined the great firms of Silicon Valley or the glittering towers of San Francisco when they chose to build their university here. Nevertheless, today their legacy sits at the nexus of the world’s economic future, and that nexus continually pays tribute to the university that helped create it. More money flows into this school than any other university  in the world. And ingrained into the DNA of this school is the old, historical understanding that there is greatness in the frontier — in both the continent and cyberspace — if you take the time to work at it. It was not for nothing that Leland Stanford left Albany for the West so many years ago.

It is only in the last four years that people have seriously brought up Stanford as a contender for the title of “best school in the world.” Both the principle and the criteria designed to support that principle make no sense to me at all. Stanford’s ivory towers may gleam, but if you do not fit in here, there is little the ivory towers can do to help. And it makes no sense to say that Stanford was the second-best school in the world one year because it had a low undergrad admissions rate and the best the year after because that admissions rate sunk just a little lower.

Nevertheless, institutionally, Stanford is thriving in truly wondrous fashion. This is the “it” school. This is the place. These are the people.

At the same time, socially, Stanford appears to be tearing apart at the seams. In the last four years here, I have seen the campus climate deteriorate, students turn against each other, communities degenerate into mutually exclusive bubbles of private Stanford experiences.

All the while, we increasingly realize that there are two Stanfords: the Stanford that sets the pace for the world and the Stanford that feels shackled to its country’s past. What we fear the most is that the promise of the former cannot exist without the depredations of the latter.

At Stanford, our greatest fear is that behind the façade of sunshine and blue skies lie darkness and moral rot. We can deal with things that we can see every day. We are scared of things we do not think can happen here, or things that we believe we have left behind. We hear it all the time. “It’s 2012.” “It’s 2013.” “It’s 2014.” “It’s 2015.” “It’s 2016.” Sexual assault. Racial tension. Stanford believes it is the future, and we’re terrified of things that we think humanity has confined to the past.

Stanford is not an angry campus. But it is getting angrier.

To what extent is Stanford, as an institution run by mortal men, to blame for its failings? I sense that political opportunism, more than anything else, is what has sundered Stanford so convincingly. The more successful John Hennessy and John Etchemendy became in building Stanford, the more people here sought to use their achievement to gain publicity — rightly or wrongly — for personal or ideological ends. This is not a perfect university, but it is a school that is trying to do things right. Stanford is not at the heart of the problem. And while politicking is a natural part of greatness, the deterioration of the idea of the “Stanford community” worries me.

Nevertheless, as even Vermont Royster understood, there is no path forward for Stanford — or for America — without an honest, convincing and ultimately successful attempt to right the wrongs of the past and present.

Stanford, seeking to position itself at the pinnacle of American meritocracy, unapologetically exists to stand against the idea of equality of outcome.

But Stanford, and institutions like it, have no legitimacy without assuring equality of opportunity.

***

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure… And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

We believe that we can create a new future, and in doing so we can transcend the shackles of our past. Leland Stanford may have stopped my ancestors from stepping on American shores for generations. But today, the name “Stanford” does not stand for the Governor. It stands for this university, and it stands for you and me. Perhaps someday it will also stand for what we we hope we can eventually become.

Until then, we must take heart in the fact that Stanford, despite the curious unreality of its worldly perfection, is a microcosm of reality: It mirrors our loves and pains, successes and failures, tears and cheers, until its absence becomes unimaginable. The love all of us have for Stanford comes from the fact that it genuinely did make so many of our dreams come true. The despair all of us at times feel here comes from the fact that we trusted it to be the theater of our dreams, and at times Stanford fell short.

I bought into the vision on day one, and I believe in it still. But I have also had a set of experiences that have convinced me that that vision can truly be realized. I was very lucky to get almost everything that I wanted from the school that, for as long as I can remember, was the university of my dreams. The more I reflect on my experience, the more I realize how fortunate I have been. Stanford was not perfect, but it was the right place for me. And frankly, I’m scared to say goodbye.

But even the most optimistic of us all would have to concede that our future lies beyond Campus Drive. College tells us to push on further, to expand our vision and to become worthy of the opportunities that fortune has handed to us — to move on to the active work of life.

It’s time for me to march on towards my own new horizon. But we are only able to boldly reach for the future because we first came of age in a fair land.

 

Contact Winston Shi at wshi94 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Say ‘yes’ http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-say-yes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=me-ay-say-yes http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-say-yes/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:13 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116082 breathe in

love, calm, light

breathe out

anxiety, pain, anger

 

live life mindful

not as a puppet

seek a life, not a job

 

sit in an inflatable turtle at the Claw on a hot day

close your eyes, walk the labyrinth, imagine another world

allow Stanford to let you smile everyday

fall asleep on the Oval

find your camp Stanford

 

happiness and health over everything

use up your late days, put the paper to rest

cry on a shoulder

use laughter as your medicine

 

love yourself

compassionate, confident, vivacious

love your life

meaningful, driven, passionate

 

a yummy cup of chai tea

a sweaty, inverted body during yoga

a candle lit in a peaceful room

a long hike, an effortless swim

a good laugh, a long sleep

 

every sunset,

every kind word,

every smile

every thank you

 

how will you find purpose, make an impact, live with intent?

 

fail a bit,

meander a lot,

keep dancing, keep living

find what you didn’t know you were looking for

 

activate your mind,

harness your creativity

trigger your happiness

 

your life is yours

your future is open

go forth and seek it

with an open heart, an open mind, without regret  

 

Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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‘Twenty minutes of action’ http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-twenty-minutes-of-action/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=me-ay-twenty-minutes-of-action http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/me-ay-twenty-minutes-of-action/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:04 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116077 There are crimes of commission (doing something), and there are crimes of omission (not doing something). Very often, crimes of omission lead to crimes of commission. A father-and-son story in the news this past week provides a perfect example in the context of sexual assault.

Dan Turner’s son, Brock, raped an unconscious woman on the campus of Stanford University in January 2015. After he raped her behind a dumpster and left her naked on the ground, he tried to run away and was tackled and caught by witnesses. Brock Turner was convicted by a jury and, last week, received only six months in jail for sexual assault. A recall campaign has begun against the judge for letting a convicted rapist off so lightly. But Dan Turner has a different take.

Dan Turner said his son paid a “steep price” for “20 minutes of action.” He lost his chance to attend Stanford and his chance to swim in the Olympics. In his statement to the court, Dan Turner did not express his deep regret for the life-changing violation of the victim by his son. In fact, he totally ignored the impact on the 23-year-old victim. The statement the victim read to the court at Brock’s sentencing is stunning in its eloquence, including these words directed at Brock Turner: “Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

But Dan Turner only mourned the way his son’s life would be “deeply altered forever.” He mourned the loss of his son’s “happy-go-lucky self,” his “easygoing personality” and his “welcoming smile.” He lamented his son’s “loss of appetite, anxiety, fear and depression.” He noted how proficient his son had been at cooking a good ribeye steak before his prosecution for rape.

Turner denied his son’s actions were even an assault and instead characterized the forcible rape as “action.” He even went so far as to say that the conduct should not have resulted in any jail time for his son.

In Dan Turner’s own presentation to the judge is evidence of the clear genesis of Brock Turner’s new title: Convicted Rapist. Dan Turner thinks his son got some “action.” He thinks 20 minutes of violence and abuse should not be consequential in his son’s life. He thinks his son deserves a pass on the profound consequences of raping a woman because…? He is white? He is a college student? He has dreams and aspirations? He was a college level swim champion? Brock Turner is going to jail, albeit for too short a time, for a crime of commission. He committed a rape on an unconscious and defenseless woman. But perhaps his father should be held accountable for his crime of omission. He failed to educate his son. He never took the time to make sure that Brock knew as much about sexual assault as he did about cooking a good ribeye steak.

How could Dan Turner have changed the ending for his son in just 20 minutes? In 20 minutes, he could have Googled a website to educate his son on the prevalence and impact of rape on women and girls. He could have had him watch a video on consent to sexual intercourse before he sent him to Stanford University to “pursue his dreams.” He could have told his son that getting some “action” is not love, respect or honor toward women and girls. Perhaps when Brock Turner reports to jail for his crime of commission, we could put Dan Turner in jail as well for his crime of omission. At least for 20 minutes.

— Casey Gwinn

 

Casey Gwinn is the President of Alliance for HOPE International.  He is the former elected city attorney of San Diego. Gwinn is a graduate of Stanford University.

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Learning in the infinite library http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/learning-in-the-infinite-library/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=learning-in-the-infinite-library http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/learning-in-the-infinite-library/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:59:00 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116081 It wouldn’t be a senior reflection without some I-should-punch-you-in-the-face level of pretentious literary references, so naturally, let’s drop some Jorge Luis Borges into the mix.

In all sincerity, “Philosophy and Literature,” taught by Professors Lanier Anderson and Joshua Landy, was probably my favorite class at Stanford. It introduced me to Borges’ “The Library of Babel,” a short story about a fictional room that contains every possible sequence of characters to fill 410-page books. It’s a story that helped me change the way I think about college by conjecturing that we would go crazy if we ever found ourselves in such a room. After all, while most of the books would contain gibberish, the answer to any question we’d have, the cure to every disease, the very meaning of life, would be have to be somewhere in that library, but we would never find it amidst the sea of shelves before us. In a way, Stanford can feel a lot like this practically-infinite library; all of the world’s knowledge is before you, but the maddening part is figuring out where even to begin, considering that four years isn’t nearly enough time to absorb it all.

Ultimately, though, this scenario shouldn’t frustrate us at all. Instead, I would argue, we should just grab a book and see what we can find in the time we have. For me, this is where The Daily comes in. In the last few years, I’ve spent more time on some stories than I have studying for tests or finishing up problem sets. Given that writing has always been very time-consuming and a struggle for me (and with the number of other cool things to do at Stanford), I spent a lot of time wondering if I was making the most of my time working for The Daily. Maybe my true calling lay elsewhere, and I'd just pulled the wrong book off the shelf?

Maybe. But I wouldn’t swap out this experience for another. I’ve made a lot of mistakes these last four years; there’s a lot I wish I could change. But at the end of the day, I’m so grateful for the educational experience I got because it was just what I needed, and I have The Daily to thank for that. Having never been an editor, I didn’t spend nearly as much time at the office as many of my incredible friends. The late nights I did spend, I spent watching reruns of Stanford football, getting my butt kicked in quiz bowl and shredding all of the skin on my knee making a diving catch in street football, and those were some of the best nights of my life. The Daily has left a huge impact on my life both emotionally and (in the case of the scars on my knee) physically.

When I first came to Stanford, I never thought I would spend so much time as a writer, or that I would focus the majority of my academic journey on math classes, or that I would be an RA. I still have a long way to go to keep improving in these skills, but I’m so much better than when I started. And that’s how I would define education: I’m so much better — as a friend, as a student, as a human being — than when I started.

I still have no idea what I want to do in life, but diving into so many new endeavors in college — headfirst and extremely unsure of myself — has been a blessing I never saw coming. Stanford has not only given me the gift of a great education, but it's also helped me refine my understanding of what excites me and opened my eyes to many new pathways and filled that journey with more great friends than I ever deserved to have. In the library of the Farm, every book has the answers you’re looking for — it’s just a matter of being willing to pick one up and enjoying the unexpected turns along the way. There are no wrong choices and every one can change your life for the better.

For us seniors, the story is just about over, and as our eyes linger over the last few words on the page, we will get to take with us so many important memories and lessons from this magical place. For me, it’s the lesson to have courage to jump into something new, to remember that there’s beauty in the struggle of working hard at something you love and that there are more people than you realize who have your back. I’ll have to leave Stanford, but I don’t think what I’ve learned here will ever leave me. Wherever I go, the weather probably won’t be as warm, the sun won’t be as radiant, the grass won’t be as soft, but the essence of what Stanford has given me will remain.

 

Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan 'at' stanford.edu.

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Three thoughts on the Daily’s future: How we can resist the fragmentation of campus http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/three-thoughts-on-the-dailys-future-how-we-can-resist-the-fragmentation-of-campus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=three-thoughts-on-the-dailys-future-how-we-can-resist-the-fragmentation-of-campus http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/three-thoughts-on-the-dailys-future-how-we-can-resist-the-fragmentation-of-campus/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 06:50:46 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116099 I fear nothing for Stanford more than its continued fragmentation. Human events, and in particular events at Stanford, tend towards disorder and entropy — cliqueness, political tunnel vision and social division. Though I love Stanford, I also cannot deny the fact that the Stanford experience is one increasingly defined by floating worlds. You can spend four years here without reading a book, taking a math class or learning why “hello world” is significant. More to the point, you can spend four years at Stanford without ever leaving your comfort zone.

I have loved the Daily first and foremost because as an institution, it is supposed to cross departmental, racial and socioeconomic lines. the Daily is a unifier, in principle open to anybody, regardless of race, politics or creed. Our future, and the legitimacy of our role on campus, depends on our ability to faithfully carry out that duty. Are we doing that right now? Not perfectly — and I’m going to ask why, because the penultimate piece of a writer’s tenure should be a candid discussion of what ought to be done. I have three points I’d like to make — on the print edition, on diversity and on the Daily community.

I can only hope that the Daily will take them to heart.

 

Print journalism will remain the future

Inspired by the Oregon Daily Emerald and the Columbia Spectator, people sometimes suggest cutting or otherwise reducing our print operation as a way to save money. First off, the central premise of that argument is just flat-out wrong: Between advertising, student fees (basically, subscriptions) and special revenues linked to print distribution, we still make money off print. But even if the continued decline of print advertising makes a print edition unprofitable, print journalism isn’t just about the dollars and cents. For us, the Internet cannot help but be a highly passive, user-driven institution — and we cannot rely on it. Cutting print causes us to lose control of how we market and distribute our product. Advanced Internet distribution tools like targeted advertising and data crunching are luxuries a college newspaper cannot afford.

Consider, for a moment, how people actually consume the Daily in this day and age. In the modern Internet age, people rarely visit a college newspaper’s website and browse the posts. They increasingly read the Daily through links to a particular article on Facebook, Twitter or email — links that, because of the nature of social networking, almost always fit their preexisting biases. The appeal of a print newspaper is that it encourages readers to read the entire thing — or at least take a look at an article they might otherwise have missed, classes and shows they might otherwise have overlooked and opinions from writers with perspectives they might never have otherwise considered. By cutting print, we would be surrendering to the continued fragmentation of Stanford’s intellectual landscape and social life.

Stanford, as an institution, provides precious little direction from the top. Generally, this is a positive thing. However, a lack of unifying direction has allowed individual communities on campus to develop a brutal form of tunnel vision — a corrosive myopia fundamental to the deteriorating campus climate we see today. We are all Pauline Kael, utterly in shock at Nixon’s election because she had no Republican friends.

When I took the reins at Opinions two years ago, I set out to consider different views and get our readers thinking. (Mostly, that meant that I hired more conservatives at an opinions desk that had traditionally been almost uniformly liberal, though never Bernie-ite.) But recruiting is not enough. I do not believe that different views can be seriously considered today without a print paper to actively put contrasting ideas before our readers, side by side. Frankly, if it were up to me, the Daily would deliver papers door-to-door.

 

No legitimacy without diversity

My second point is also clear, if difficult to swallow. The Stanford Daily is not a diverse organization in any way or shape or form.

As I said at the start of this piece, we are supposed to be a unifier, bringing in experiences and identities from all across campus. In this regard we could be worse: The Review only has one minority on staff. But the Daily is still an institution that is both racially and socioeconomically limited.

Our staffers are paid, but for a long time, our writers were not, and we hire our editors almost exclusively from the writing ranks. Many lower-income students need a campus job to support themselves, which means that when I was starting out, many brilliant writers and future editors could not actually join the Daily — and some still can’t. We hurt ourselves if we shut ourselves off from their wealth of experiences, and we frequently lose out on promising lower-income students by not sufficiently compensating them for the time commitment the Daily requires.

We cannot claim to speak for the Stanford community if we draw our staffers almost exclusively from a few select subsets of society. But in handling staff recruitment and retention, what exactly did we expect was going to happen? Race and class being the covariates that they are, in my time at the Daily, nearly every editor-in-chief came from an upper-class background, and every editor-in-chief was either white or Chinese — as was the vast majority of the senior staff.

Stanford may be achieving its mission by using financial aid to bring in kids that are smart, poor and hungry — my father grew up poor, and I’m only where I am today because he got into the Chinese equivalent of Stanford, immigrated to the United States and brought me up as an American citizen. But even if they get in, people from marginalized backgrounds will not reach their full potential at Stanford if extracurricular institutions like the Daily are not always prepared to acknowledge the challenges that lower- and middle-income students face. Can we really surprised when certain identity organizations display a pre-existing skepticism of the Daily because we are not diverse? The answer is unequivocally no.

While the Daily is still a kind of unifier — we publish op-eds from across campus — its staff is nevertheless blinkered to the world around us, as I can say from personal experience. When I was a managing editor, I remember arguing with George Chen (one of the few middle-class editors-in-chief) when he proposed giving stipends to writers. My view was that the stipends were both too little to take care of the truly poor and not enough to entice anybody who didn’t need the money. George pointed out that for somebody like himself, every little bit was enough. Because of my own limitations of perspective, I let the perfect become the enemy of the good. And if George and his successor Jana hadn’t created the stipend program, I would have inadvertently stopped a lot of people from finding a home at the newspaper that had given me a home.

Two years later, with stipends institutionalized and our writer retention rates skyrocketing, I admit that George was correct. It’s not time to retrench. It’s time to double down by raising an endowment to pay lower-income writers, finding ways to work with Stanford to create fellowships for low-income editors and specifically recruiting for diversity during the critical days of freshman year.

I leave the Daily with some regrets, because I once had the power to make a real change, and I didn’t do a good enough job of that when I had the chance. As head of the opinions desk, I tried to recruit a diverse set of columnists, but I only got the ideological diversity part down. In any case, most of my writers were still the kind of well-meaning, unobjectionable but nevertheless predominantly upper-income, white/Asian liberals that dominate social and cultural life at Stanford. I hope future generations of Daily staffers will do better than I did.

Nevertheless, we are in a better place than we were four years ago, from both an institutional and a diversity standpoint. The path is tough, but it is also clear.

 

Return community to the newsroom

My final point is about community, but because the Daily is a community-based organization, I’m fundamentally asking what kind of institution the Stanford Daily is and should be.

The last four years have been transformative for the Daily as an institution. In short, we’ve improved a lot. We are a more professional paper than we were four years ago, and that is a good thing. Staffers no longer have to stay in until 3:00 in the morning, idly playing Cards against Humanity with SportsCenter humming in the background while the paper gets done. Our recruited writers, by and large, choose to stay on, which was not the case in the past. Our news section no longer chases the entire freshman staff with every story idea, hoping that somebody — who may or may not have specialty experience in that subject — will have too much free time. Meanwhile, our sports staff continues to produce some of the best sports coverage in the country.

But at the same time, while we train writers, we are fundamentally not an institution designed to build portfolios for aspiring journalists. In this day and age, it takes a special person to renounce the temptations of law or finance or software development or electrical engineering to become a journalist. Though our staff and writers are committed to their craft, our media alumni network is impressive and every Daily alum I’ve worked with that wanted to go into journalism has gotten a top-tier job, we only send one or two students to the professional ranks every year. We are not the Harvard Crimson or the Daily Northwestern or the Daily Texan. We are the Stanford Daily, and because of our particular hiring situation, we have to zig where the pre-professional publications zag.

Historically, instead of selling ourselves as training for a job our recruits by and large didn’t want, we sold the Daily community and the opportunity for rapid advancement. Staffers can still rise faster at the Daily than almost anywhere else; just six months after I became a full-time writer, I took over the Opinions section. But it seems that we are less of a community than we were four years ago, and that worries me.

Perhaps I cut my teeth at the Daily during a time of big personalities and animal spirits. However, as workflow moves online, the staff events budget is repeatedly cut, social activities like watching sports are increasingly excised from the newsroom and the active work of the Daily increasingly departs the Daily building, there is less of a sense that we are collectively part of a larger organization. And that cannot entirely be blamed by the particular combination of personalities at the paper. Like Stanford in general, the Daily appears increasingly fragmented and individualized, until we no longer see in the Daily the things that brought us to the paper in the first place.

We might be more professional, but we are not a pre-professional newspaper. We are not going to become a pre-professional newspaper. There are too many other options available on a campus like this. Institutional unity is our future. If we cannot give our students camaraderie, we will have nothing to recruit them with at all.

***

I want to close on a more positive note. Alongside my mentors in the history department, the Hoover Institution and the international relations faculty, the Stanford Daily has defined my time at Stanford. Since the day that George Chen recruited me to the Daily, my time at Stanford has never been the same. I will always be grateful to the Daily for giving me this wondrous gift.

I arrived at Stanford with no friends in the area, no knowledge of the Bay Area and no interest in jumping into the tech world. It means the world to me that the Daily gave me a community — frankly, a home. I can only hope that other people can have the same experience I did. The Stanford Daily made all my dreams come true except one. If we’ll be the campus unifier that we were originally founded to be, maybe we’ll deserve to call ourselves the people we dreamed of being.

 

Contact Winston Shi at wshi94 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Protest planned for Wacky Walk http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/protest-planned-for-wacky-walk/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=protest-planned-for-wacky-walk http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/protest-planned-for-wacky-walk/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 21:59:54 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116086 During Wacky Walk this Sunday, graduating seniors are planning a protest in the wake of the Brock Turner sentencing decision. Participants will sport signs and cap decorations supporting the victim in the Turner case and other victims of sexual assault, and students who are off-campus will be able to show their support via a social media campaign.

Brianne Huntsman ’16, the chief organizer of the demonstration, has been following the Turner case since news of Turner’s arrest emerged in January 2015. Huntsman, who was an organizer for the Stand with Leah protests in 2014, said she was motivated to organize the Wacky Walk demonstration after hearing the sentencing decision in the Turner case and observing reactions.

“I saw the same sort of verbage being used: ‘What was she wearing? What was she drinking? What about this, and what about that?'” she said.

According to Huntsman, the goals of the protest are threefold: to recognize the pain of survivors, to honor the survivor in the Turner case and to call for a new campus climate survey. At the time of publication, the Facebook group dedicated to planning the protest had 121 members.

The protest is intended to be educational in nature. Participants plan to address the crowd with questions about men’s role in combating rape culture and the interplay between race, privilege and sexual assault. Because many friends and family members of graduating students will be attending Commencement, Huntsman said she hoped the protest would be an opportunity to reach an audience beyond that of only Stanford’s student body.

The protest is not meant to disrupt Wacky Walk, traditionally a processional during which students don eccentric get-ups on the way to their seats. Huntsman and many of the other participants in the protest will still be wearing costumes as regular attendees of Wacky Walk.

“This is a place where we’re tackling big issues,” Huntsman said. “Yes, we’re having fun, but we’re also facing this broader issue affecting Stanford.”

 

Contact Victor Xu at vxu ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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The full letter read by Brock Turner’s father at his sentencing hearing http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/the-full-letter-read-by-brock-turners-father-at-his-sentencing-hearing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-full-letter-read-by-brock-turners-father-at-his-sentencing-hearing http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/08/the-full-letter-read-by-brock-turners-father-at-his-sentencing-hearing/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 20:58:41 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116073 Before the sentencing decision for Brock Turner was made, both the victim, the Turner’s father and Turner read statements to the courtroom. The victim’s letter has circulated nationwide, garnering wide attention. The letter read by Turner’s father, Dan Turner, is shown below.

Honorable Judge Aaron Persky,

I am writing this letter to tell you about my son Brock and the person that I know he is. First of all, let me say that Brock is absolutely devastated by the events of January 17th and 18th 2015. He would do anything to turn back the hands of time and have that night to do over again. In many one-on-one conversations with Brock since that day, I can tell you that he is truly sorry for what occurred that night and for all the pain and suffering that it has caused for all of those involved and impacted by that night. He has expressed true remorse for his actions on that night. Living under that same roof with Brock since this incident, I can tell you firsthand the devastating impact that it has had on my son. Before I elaborate more, I would like to share some memories of my son that demonstrate the quality of his character. Brock has an easygoing personality that endears him to almost everyone he meets.

He has always been a person that people like to be around whether they are male or female. This has been true from the time Brock was in pre-school to today. I have never seen Brock raise his voice to anyone and he doesn’t pre-judge anyone. He accepts them for who they are no more, no less. He has a very gentle and quiet nature and a smile that is truly welcoming to those around him. I have never once heard him brag or boast about any accomplishment that he has ever achieved. He is simply a very humble person who would rather hear about someone else’s accomplishments rather than talk about his own. Brock has an inner strength and fortitude that is beyond anything I have ever seen. This was no doubt honed over many years of competitive swimming and has been a major reason for his ability to cope over the last 15 months.

Brock has always been an extremely dedicated person whether it was academics, sports, or developing and maintaining friendships and relationships. Brock’s dedication to academics started early in grade school. My fondest memory is of helping Brock prepare for his weekly spelling test. Doing well on these tests was very important to Brock and he would start preparing the day before by memorizing the words and making sure he had everything together in his mind. I would have to quiz him over and over just so he was sure he would do well on the test. He’ would make me give him a final preparation quiz as we drove to school on Friday mornings. I can assure you that Brock always did well on these exams. While this example may seem trivial, it was an early indicator of the importance he placed on academic achievement that never left him. As he got older and progressed in school, he needed my intervention less and less as he is gifted in his ability to understand very complicated subject matter. This natural ability along with an extremely strong work ethic lead to academic success at all levels.

Brock was equally talented in athletics participating in baseball, basketball, and swimming. I was his baseball and basketball coach and his Cub Scout den leader for many years during his grade school years. I was so proud to participate and serve as his coach and leader as it meant that I got to spend more time with him. I was also a parent chaperone for many school outings and often times was the only dad along on these field trips. For me, I loved every minute of it because Brock was a pleasure to be around and he always treated the other kids, parents, and teachers with-respect. I will cherish the memories of those years forever.

In the late summer before Brock’s senior year in high school, he applied to Stanford with the dream of taking both his academic and athletic talents to the next, level. Brock had a large amount of interest from many Division-1 coaches due to his swimming success and outstanding grades in school. Many college coaches pursued Brock based on the entire body of work that he represented. However, Stanford was always the apple of his eye and the ultimate prize for someone who had worked so hard for so long. Brock and I first visited Stanford in the summer of 2011 between his freshman and sophomore years in high school. Brock was there to compete in his first national level swim meet called the USA Junior Nationals. We were both totally in awe of the campus, the swimming facilities, and the rich history that the university represented. I remember commenting to Brock at the time that wouldn’t this be a great place to go to school. It was incredible to think about the number of Olympic swimmers that had attended Stanford. This first exposure to Stanford made a lasting impression on Brock. Our family was full of pride and joy when we found out in the fall of 2013 that Brock had been accepted to Stanford. This was a culminating event for Brock as we knew how much work he had put in to get to that point. The thing that made us most proud was the fact that Brock had to be accepted academically before he could be considered for an athletic scholarship. This was especially significant given Stanford’s 4% acceptance rate for that particular year. Brock was awarded a 60% swimming scholarship by the university. Even with such a generous offer, my wife and I both knew it would be a financial struggle for our family for Brock to attend Stanford, but we were determined to make it work because we knew the value of a Stanford education. As Brock’s senior year passed, he was characteristically humble about being admitted to Stanford and continued to work hard until the very last minute of high school on academics and swimming.

When Carleen and I took Brock to Stanford in September 2014 to begin his freshman year, we both felt he was totally prepared for the experience. He had been to many national level swim camps and meets and was comfortable being away from home. We were very excited for Brock as he settled into Stanford during that first quarter as a brand new student athlete. He excelled in school that quarter earning the top GPA for all freshmen on the swim team. What we didn’t realize was the extent to which Brock was struggling being so far from home. Brock was working hard to adapt to the rigors of both school and swimming. When Brock was home during Christmas break, he broke down and told us how much he was struggling to fit in socially and the fact that he did not like being so far from home. Brock was nearly distraught knowing that he had to return early from Christmas break for swimming training camp. We even questioned whether it was the right move to send him back to Stanford for the winter quarter. In hindsight, it’s clear that Brock was desperately trying to fit in at Stanford and fell into the culture of alcohol consumption and partying. This culture was modeled by many of the upperclassmen on the “swim team and played a role in the events of Jan 17th and 18th 2015. Looking back at Brock’s brief experience at Stanford, I honestly don’t believe it was the best fit for him. He was ready academically and athletically, but it was simply too far from home for someone who was born and raised in the Midwest. He needed the support structure of being closer to family and friends.

As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015. Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.

 

Very Respectfully,

Dan A. Turner

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An open letter to the Honorable Aaron Persky http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/07/an-open-letter-to-the-honorable-aaron-persky/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=an-open-letter-to-the-honorable-aaron-persky http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/07/an-open-letter-to-the-honorable-aaron-persky/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2016 06:59:47 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116063 I am an academic who has spent a career studying the effects of trauma. In light of your recent ruling, please take a moment to read my professional perspective on sexual trauma. It is my hope that this will give you better understanding on the impact on survivors of sexual assault, so that these harms can be appropriately weighed in sentencing a perpetrator. The scientific literature has established that trauma impacts multiple bodily systems, leading to higher rates of morbidity and mortality as well as diminished social, vocational and economic functioning. Sexual assault is more likely than any other type of trauma to have negative psychological effects on the victim. It leads to high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and suicide; such mental health problems frequently persist for years. Trauma’s impact on physical health ranges from alterations in brain structure and function to heightened risk of multiple chronic medical conditions to changes at the cellular level that accelerate the aging process. Further, it is well established that trauma has intergenerational effects, leading to increased risk of adverse emotional and behavioral outcomes across the lifespan for the offspring of survivors, particularly female survivors. While what I am describing are averages and cannot predict the experience of any individual, I believe that it is a universally severe impact.

I am aware that in the recent sentencing of Brock Turner you elected leniency, citing your concern for the “severe impact” on him. In the future, please consider the severe impact of trauma on the survivors and their family in your sentencing. I am not suggesting vindictiveness. Treat the perpetrator in such a way as to deter that individual and others from committing such abhorrent acts. Support efforts at restitution, education and healing. But, please, do not minimize the impact of trauma in an effort to spare a convicted perpetrator.

Ariel J. Lang, Ph.D., MPH

Class of 1991

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Judge in Turner case faces criticism after citing lack of criminal record, remorse in sentencing decision http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/06/judge-in-brock-turner-case-faces-criticism-after-citing-lack-of-criminal-record-remorse-in-sentencing-decision/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=judge-in-brock-turner-case-faces-criticism-after-citing-lack-of-criminal-record-remorse-in-sentencing-decision http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/06/judge-in-brock-turner-case-faces-criticism-after-citing-lack-of-criminal-record-remorse-in-sentencing-decision/#comments Tue, 07 Jun 2016 01:51:59 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116055 Criticism of Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85 erupted nationwide following the sentencing of Brock Turner to six months in jail and three years of probation on June 2. A protest is currently being planned for the Commencement tradition Wacky Walk, and multiple petitions to recall Persky and as well as a petition calling for more University support for sexual assault victims are circulating on social media.

At Turner’s sentencing hearing on June 2, Persky began by acknowledging that the decision was difficult. He said he was partly relying on Rule 4.413(c)(2)(c), which has to do with probation eligibility. The rule states that there is limited culpability if “the defendant is youthful or aged, and has no significant record of prior criminal offenses.”

After revealing his decision, Persky detailed both aggravating and mitigating factors for the sentencing decision.

Aggravating factors, or those which favor extending the sentence, cited by the judge included the following: deep physical and psychological harm inflicted upon the victim and vulnerability of the victim at the time of the crime.

Mitigating factors, or those which favor reducing the sentence, were cited as follows: lowered culpability due to both parties’ intoxication (though Persky insisted this factor was weighted only slightly); the lack of a prior criminal record; character letters attesting to a period of good behavior prior to and after the crime; Turner’s likely compliance with the sentence; adverse “collateral” effects outside of the conviction such as high media attention; and what Persky identified as remorse from Turner.

He called the last determination “one of the most conflicted and difficult in the case today.” However, he said he ultimately judged Turner’s remorse to be sincere.

“The trial is a search for the truth. It’s an imperfect process,” he said, adding later, “I’m not sure his incomplete acquiescence to the verdict is grounds [to affect his sentence].”

Ultimately, Persky said that he did not believe an extensive jail sentence would best suit Turner’s rehabilitation as a sex offender.

Many student groups have expressed outrage at this decision. A group called Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) created a petition yesterday calling for the University to apologize to the victim, provide supportive services to her and other sexual assault victims, commit educational resources toward sexual assault and administer a new campus climate survey.

Matthew Baiza ’18, co-founder ASAP, said he was moved to action after reading the letter the victim read in court.

“After reading that, we realized the survivor didn’t get justice at all,” he said. “It sends the wrong message to survivors, students and the nation as a whole.”

In a statement released today, spokesperson Lisa Lapin said the University has faced significant misinformation regarding its role in the case.

“[The University] did everything within its power to assure that justice was served in this case, including an immediate police investigation and referral to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for a successful prosecution,” the statement reads.

Another petition to recall and remove Persky reached over 140,000 signatures at the time of publication. The petition also accuses Persky of bias in favor of Turner, a “fellow alumni and athlete of Stanford.”

An email also circulated today requesting students to join in a protest during Wacky Walk, the traditional Stanford procession of graduating students which kicks off Commencement.

 

Contact Victor Xu at vxu ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Film review: I know you’ll love “Popstar,” I know you’ll care http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/04/popstar-never-stop-never-stopping/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=popstar-never-stop-never-stopping http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/04/popstar-never-stop-never-stopping/#respond Sat, 04 Jun 2016 07:46:29 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116048 Few filmmakers in American comedy make more of spectacular nonsense than the Lonely Island (Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone), and “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” fits comfortably into the group’s decade-long filmmaking excursion towards the delightful and absurd. The pop-mockumentary mixes the glossy and silly into another syllabic ode to bullshit ideas ranging from Macklemore parody to turtle tragedy. What matters in “Popstar” more than transitional gravitas is the endpoint of ludicrous American destiny, demolishing legend into oblivious, cleverly sketched shards.

“Popstar” follows Conner4Real, a successful tween popstar on the eve of his highly anticipated second album’s release. Like Justin Timberlake (who makes one of the film’s many cameo appearances), Conner was once the charismatic centerpiece of a three-piece boy band, The Style Boyz (Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone). When fame went to Conner’s empty head, he clashed with Lawrence (Schaffer) before flying solo and demoting fellow Style Boyz member Owen (Taccone) to backup DJ status. As Conner’s second album launches, as the tour deteriorates, as gimmicks fail and sycophants abandon him, as all seems lost — will the Style Boyz reunite? Will the tour continue? Will Seal survive a marriage-proposal-wolf-attack?

These questions are almost completely irrelevant. “Popstar” barely troubles itself with narrative beyond the essential, meta-textual trappings of the Style Boyz’s resemblance to the Lonely Island itself. Like Conner, Samberg has achieved the greatest level of onscreen fame; but the comparison falls apart once one notes the level of collaboration at work in the filmmaking. All three members star (Taccone and Schaffer co-direct their own script, which was co-written with Samberg), and while this is certainly a movie about Conner and his unceasingly silly world, “Popstar”‘s occasional pathos aligns nicely with the group’s collaborative spirit.    

Desperate for validation and wholly privileged, Conner is the character equivalent of a lazy teen made to brush their teeth three times a day, full of sighs and tantrums and loud outros. Like the centerpiece duo of “This Is Spinal Tap,” Conner’s delusion is inextricably tied to a pop cultural image he barely hopes to contain. He’s constantly self-sharing and scratching to make every horrible lyric or referential baseline fit into the parameters of his ego. When this inevitably fails, everyone else on tour must attempt to save Conner from himself and themselves from unemployment.

“Everyone else” ends up meaning a bevy of talented comic actors. This is a movie more overstuffed with cameos than my cheeks dealing with the crust end of a large PB&J. Will Arnett, Chelsea Peretti, Eric Andre, and Mike Birbligia shine in a TMZ parody cutaway that drifts into anti-comedy with every hoarse laugh and loud clap. Bill Hader and Joanna Newsom appear in an enjoyable Flatliners-riff that ends just as it begins. Maya Rudolph plays a corporate branding synchronizer to uneasy perfection before vanishing from the movie for an hour (only to later reappear). Even Martin Sheen shows up, for reasons I still can’t quite grasp and don’t particularly need to grasp. The abundance of cameos ought to annoy more often than it does, but for the most part, the arrivals sing. The absurdist strain and non-seriousness of the film keeps their reflexivity from turning vomitous, and the gibberish retains an enjoyably positive spirit from minute one to 86.

The movie also looks better than the average studio comedy thanks to Brandon Trost’s hyper-digital cinematography and the kinetic editing of Craig Alpert, Jamie Gross, and Stacey Schroeder. Taccone and Schaffer don’t reinvent the visual wheel, but as with “Hot Rod” and “MacGruber,” they prove to be fine imitators of genre style, capable of punctuating a visual joke with the right camera shift or documentarian zoom.

“Popstar” relies on a sense of constant movement to make its never-ending array of sketches and one-liners work, and the filmmakers mostly achieve the necessary zip thanks to the work of talented actors like Imogen Poots and Tim Meadows. The film only lags when it relies on heavily ironic talking head cutaways as a narrative buoy. The DJ Khaled- Usher-Ringo Starr interviews are fun enough, but wear thin when heavily leaned upon upon again and again as a record scratch of reality versus perception.

While the best material in “Popstar” often emanates from its pop roots – particularly in terms of Macklemorian satire  – the film works best when stretched to the total limits of obliviousness and media saturation. Due to his fame, wealth and status, Conner’s world has mostly been constructed from his own mind and bears no relation to a pre-Vine, vlogging world. Within the blanketing layers of nonsense and hedonistic fulfillment lies the sheer confusion of decadence, the final climax of a lofted individual who views the world merely as an extension of the self.

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” isn’t so much a critique of “poptimism” as it is an warning to pop-icon-dreamers who don’t evolve, and selves who won’t see. This is where the Lonely Island becomes, for perhaps a frame or two of poolside existentialism, more than just a purveyor of the gleeful and absurd. By stretching the branded and self-serious into the juvenile and silly, the group reduces an ideal into its component parts, each of which makes less and less sense when deconstructed. “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” never quite reaches the heights of “Hot Rod,” but that’s hardly a failure. It’s more about the thought than the thing.

I also laughed.

Contact Connor Huchton at chuncton@stanford.edu.

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