When it was founded in 1891, Stanford was ahead of its time: The school did not charge tuition fees, it admitted women and it had no religious affiliation. There were Asian American and Native American students in the first classes. But despite these measures, Stanford was, for the first 70 years of its history, overwhelmingly male – and even more overwhelmingly white.
Stanford, and other elite institutions, should begin to fully explore the nuances of their affirmative action policies and ultimately frame them in a more appropriate manner.
I want to question the way our school defines diversity and if we truly are as inclusive of all kinds of diversity with regards to admissions as we say we are. Although I think our Office of Undergraduate Admission does a wonderful job in admitting a wide range of students, there are areas that should be examined to see if they could be improved.
I grew up in Daytona Beach, Fla., a town primarily known for Spring Break, NASCAR and driving on the beach. The warm ocean was a good place to learn to surf (despite being the shark-bite capital of the world), and the public schools prepared me adequately for Stanford’s rigorous academics. However, what I realize now is that it is an area lacking the rich diversity many of us have come to take for granted in our time on the Farm.
There is something each and every one of us can do, though. Blessed with the opportunity to attend a university rich with diversity, we should make our Stanford experience whole by learning from the lives of our fellow students. To not do so is to squander the rare opportunity to revel in true diversity. The Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) sees this challenge and organizes around it.
Like many other students, I spent this past week travelling with friends. But instead of going on a cruise or relaxing in some other warm, sunny region of the world, we ended up in Greece. A cold, windy, closed-for-off-season Greece. Not quite what we had envisioned when we made the impulse decision to buy tickets after watching a certain movie with Meryl Streep singing and dancing on Greek islands.
It is evident on Stanford’s campus that people do not recognize the viewpoints of other students on the topic of race as it intersects with a kaleidoscope of social constructs like class, gender, sexuality and religion. This conversation is often suppressed by a “political correctness” that is convenient and sometimes even comforting, but is neither progressive nor personal enough to answer the question: “How might race impact my own life?”
At the start of last week, I sent a few e-mail lists an invitation for students to anonymously vent their biggest Stanford-related frustrations by listing them on a Google Doc. There were over 100 individual responses (over 120 if you include the trolls). From what I read, students’ complaints seem to have fallen into a few big categories.