My mother is a structural engineer; my dad is a computer scientist. When I entered Stanford, I was sure I was going to be techie. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in (although science seemed like a good bet), so I started off my freshman year with all of the introductory math and science classes I could take. Now, five years later, I’ve ended up with a degree in...sociology.
Over the last few years, I’ve become aware of a different way to frame the discussion about racism, one that I have found helpful. This approach situates the white experience fully within the issue and in relation to the experiences of others, giving me a new way to understand both my relationship with racism and the role and responsibility I have in combating it.
What annoys me, however, is when people ask “So what are you going to do with a Sociology degree?” Within the phrasing and intonation of this question are often a number of subtle assumptions and judgments.
Most people at Stanford would agree that that the issues of rape and sexual assault are serious matters; however, that doesn’t mean they are above becoming punch lines for jokes on campus. Similarly, jokes involving the Holocaust, dead babies and Helen Keller are made all the time; they are funny precisely because they are matters that should not be joked about.
I want to share the resources that I’ve used--both to commend Stanford for its supportive environment and to share with other students that may be floundering how I’ve made my way through school.
What made the difference between my good advisor and the bad ones? It really boils down to four things: knowledge, commitment, availability and the intangible personal connection.
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.
This weekend was the Stanford Improvisors’ (SImps) 20th reunion. I spent the whole weekend doing improv with alumni, getting to know them and hearing them reflect on the role that improv and the ideas behind it have had on their lives. As one alumnus said, “Improv is so much more than improv,” and it has truly affected many of the alumni’s lives in more profound ways than simply being the focus of a group they were part of in college. In many ways, improv is a philosophy for life, and the tenets behind it can be paradigm-shifting for students in an environment like Stanford’s.
’m sure a lot of you can relate to the feeling of staying quiet even when you have things to say. I want to use this column to explore this -- not as an artifact of my individual personality (which in many cases it is), but as part of a larger process that happens on this campus. The process of silencing others is subtle and often not apparent to those who do not experience it or who are perpetrating it. I want to talk about how this has happened to me to try to raise awareness of how it happens and to encourage students to think about how they may be minimizing the voices of others.
I think of Stanford as also having that quality, but last fall when I got to campus I began to realize that I don’t know very many women here who are very open about being lesbians. At best, I’ve only been aware of three or four female undergrads in my time here that identify as something other than straight, but I know many gay men. So I started to wonder why that is.
There has been a conspiracy to prevent me from ever taking an art class at Stanford; I’m sure of it. For the most part, it’s not that hard to get into classes you want here, a fact I’m blessedly reminded of every time I see friends from home. The one exception I’ve found to this is our Studio Art Department. This is one of my eternal frustrations at this school: I love art, but it seems that the Department of Art & Art History wants nothing to do with me.