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A message to the freshmen

By

The thought of welcoming a new class has always filled me excitement, and anticipation of the brilliance and energy this new batch of individuals will bring to the Stanford community. However, there is a second surge of emotions — anger, fear and disappointment because I know many of them have no idea that they are, just as I am, complicit in a system of oppression.

Many of them will think their cookie-cutter liberalism, insincere modernism, or unabashed conservatism gives them the right to be color-blind, complacent or bigots — but it doesn’t.

This is a demand to 2019 to learn about how they intentionally or unintentionally oppress others, and a demand to this group of world citizens to be both uncomfortable and disgusted with inaction as Stanford students and decent human beings.

I demand 2019 to examine their position in systems of oppression because acceptance to a school such as Stanford now gives you a seat at the one of the most powerful corporations/institutions in the world.

I demand you to push this institution in the direction of social justice.

I know you cried at FACES and while listening to how your dorm mate made it through the fire. I know that you feel liberated by sharing some of your own struggles during RA-initiated bonding. But I also know that those feelings will fade for you and many of your peers by the end of fall quarter.

These stories and hurt that you are feasting on will become nothing but safely distant  memories to you as you starting thinking about more pressing things — rush, Full Moon on the Quad and how you plan to spend spring quarter. Except these Stanford traditions shouldn’t be more pressing than those struggles you should be confronting.  

Now by all means, enjoy freshman year. Stay up to 3 a.m. talking about high school memories, steal another dorm’s flag, go fountain hopping, but do not be completely disillusioned.

Stanford has habit of making us feel like we have a right to unquestioned innocence by presenting issues as dirty sins that disappear once you set foot on Palm Drive.

I demand you to do something about any injustice that your attention is brought to and to always listen to others who are trying to reach out to you about their struggles.

I have left one blatantly obvious term undefined and abstract throughout this entire article on which my argument lives on.

Social justice. What is it?

In the most vague terms, social justice is the demand for more freedom to oppressed and disenfranchised people who are hurt by current systems in this society, domestically and internationally. I left it undefined because I believe that the class for 2019 should define it for themselves.

There is a community of thinkers, actors, and innovators already present at Stanford, but we would be foolish to think that we know everything. We would be foolish to not make space for 2019 to gift us with their ideas and excitement.

For me social justice includes an abolition of racism, sexism, heterosexism, environmental exploitation and vulturistic capitalism. I acknowledge my privilege as an cisgender, educated, able-bodied, U.S. citizen who attends Stanford University, and I remind myself to always dream of freedom. Even when the vision becomes hazy as the result of Stanford’s seductive beauty.

FACES will come and go, and so will the deep conversations you share with someone who is not like you. I implore you to hold on to these moments of rare communal vulnerability that NSO will bring, and I beg you to act on them everyday.

The class of 2019 can bring us new visions of freedom, and build on the dreams that are already here.

Welcome to Stanford 2019. We are happy to have you.

Contact Mysia Anderson at mysia ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Mysia Anderson '17 is a sophomore majoring in African & African American studies. She is from Miami, Florida and is an unapologetic Black feminist. She enjoys poems about love, free food, and dancing to Beyoncé. You can contact Mysia at [email protected]