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Madeleine Chang

How do we know what we don’t know?

Colleges this year are said to be experiencing a “surge” in student organizing. According to a recent study from UCLA, more American college students participated in protests in 2015 than in any year in the past fifty. This moment of increased student activism has fostered a culture of competitive social consciousness. We trade in knowing…

#SyllabiSoWhite

The glaring exclusion of black actors from this year’s Oscars nominations has sparked a conversation about the whiteness of the nominating body and of the movie industry at large. The New Yorker’s Andrew Brody elaborates: “The underlying issue of the Academy’s failure to recognize black artists is the presumption that baseline experience is white experience…

Home coming and going

The first few weeks of January on college campuses are full of syllabi, unrusting rusted bike locks, (broken) new year’s resolutions, and three-sentence conversations in dorm hallways and bookstore lines that always begin: “How was your break? How was home?”

White girls only

It was powerful to witness and take part in this tide of collective consciousness. It was also easy to copy and paste, pat myself on the back, and forget about racial justice in the long term. Now that the news cycle is done with Mizzou, how can we, who declared our allyship last week, outlive the transience of hashtag activism?

Saving the city from ourselves

San Francisco’s municipal election last week was a victory for developers and the gentrification they facilitate. As a good liberal, I oppose gentrification’s dislocation of low-income residents, who are disproportionately people of color. As a Stanford student who loves the Bay Area, I will hopefully use my degree to get a good job and will then want to live in a hip neighborhood that once belonged to deeper-rooted residents. In other words, I will be a gentrifier. Can gentrifiers earnestly oppose gentrification?

A hollow yes in the era of consent

This practice began earlier this year at EBF’s Wednesday happy hour, with the intent of encouraging a “pro-consent community,” and has since spread to other parties. This was my first time seeing it in action. After defining consent, we were allowed to join the fun inside. A small line had accumulated behind us, and I held back for a minute to watch in happy disbelief as the next group of partygoers recited the pledge. A humble but important cultural shift was occurring in real time.

Class endogamy and dating apps

American debutante balls have served to introduce elite women to “society” since the 1950s. The tradition began in 18th century Britain, with the idea of matching young women with suitable husbands. Now, there’s an app for that. It’s called the League. Contrary to the Silicon Valley ethos in which the League was conceived, this app is not “disrupting” but rather reinforcing traditional notions of dating and marriage.

Not in my name

This time, I was at a “Vigil for Recently Murdered Israelis,” an event that refused to acknowledge Palestinian lives lost, excluded mainstream Jewish perspectives on the conflict, and branded Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as anti-Semitic. I could not sing about shalom/salaam/peace in good faith at an event that leveraged Jewish identity to legitimize ongoing suffering and violence in Israel-Palestine.

Asian invasion

A sign on the door of Margaret Jacks Hall (building 460), home to English and Linguistics Departments, reads: “Building access for Stanford business only.” Below, the phrase is translated into Chinese and Korean. I passed by this notice on my way to class the other day and wondered, why single out Chinese and Korean?

Ghosts of Internets past: Wrestling with the permanence of the online

In the age of “pics or it didn’t happen,” our narratives exist in two parallel spheres: the real life, and the online. The two sometimes converge (#nofilter) and sometimes remain separate (un-tag that unflattering picture please). Unlike the real self, aspects of the online self can be edited, highlighted, and deleted. But memories can also be tweaked and blocked. So to which self do we turn for an accurate version of our personal histories?

The politicization of learning Arabic

Why does Stanford require its students to study foreign languages? According to the Stanford Language Center, it’s because “Stanford students need to be able to initiate interactions with persons from other cultures but also to engage with them on issues of mutual concern.”

Am I having fun yet?

The well-intended emphasis on having a good time, however, sometimes has the opposite effect: a sense of lonesomeness rooted in the worry that you yourself are not having the fun you think you’re supposed to be having.
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