In 1987, Jennifer Graham, a 15-year old California high school student, refused to dissect a frog because she believed doing so would be immoral. She asked her teacher for an alternative assignment, but her request was denied and her grade suffered. Jennifer sued the school district, claiming that requiring dissection violated her First Amendment right to her deeply held religious and moral beliefs. A year later, California’s education code was amended, giving all California K-12 public school students the right to refrain from dissection and to be given an alternative assignment without penalty.
I met Jaime Barrio when he came to the US. He was an engineering student with a passion for building and racing go-karts. His team stayed at my Airbnb while attending an international dune-buggy competition. Now he’s back in Caracas, Venezuela where a hostile government allows a humanitarian crisis to worsen daily. We talk on WhatsApp when his electricity works and I’ve helped him write the following account of his experience:
The Campus Workers’ Rights Coalition and members of CSRE35SI: An Introduction to Labor Organizing have put together a series of profiles drawn from both archival and current interviews with workers on-campus to highlight both the struggles that workers at Stanford face and the resilience that they bring to the work they do. Campus workers often have to deal with chronic understaffing and difficult menial labor. Alongside this, Stanford does not pay its workers a living wage despite the rising costs of food, health, and housing in the Bay, and workers must often cover many of their own health costs because of a lack of insurance benefits while managing hours-long commutes due to a dearth of affordable housing.
This past week, the ASSU debated a bill authored by the Director of Academic Freedom, Zintis Inde, that would force every student club to include a mandatory 120-word statement on all advertisements for their event. A paragraph-long statement may have to be included in every email, flyer and Facebook post regarding a speaker your club brings in the future, if this bill passes. If a club forgets to include the statement just four times over the span of two years, it could receive a “one year ban on funding,” according to an early draft of the bill. The statement itself is pretty basic: it notes that the ASSU does not necessarily endorse the speakers it funds, while simultaneously supports the value of free speech in campus dialogue. Even if we set aside for the moment the ethics of compelling groups to include this lengthy statement, one must question the necessity of the requirement itself.
I voted in the recent ASSU election, and on many questions, the ballot prevented me from abstaining. For example, I only wanted to rank two of the Executive slates, but I was forced to rank all five. This led to my third, fourth, and fifth choices defaulting to the ballot’s random ordering. On the Annual Grants, I had to choose either “yes” and “no” for organizations I barely recognized. That can’t be the best way to allocate thousands of dollars.
Stanford is paving the way for college campuses to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly, yet the university neglects to address a large portion of its carbon emissions that are released beyond its borders.
You’re enjoying a sunny afternoon stroll through White Plaza, having actually decided to attend your CS lecture, when flashy posters catch your attention. Uncle Sam mouthing, “We want you!” and wagging his patriotic finger? Not interesting. But wait, what’s he wearing? A white spacesuit in place of his navy blazer, above the slogan “Join the Space Force, see the galaxy!”
“…and to all those who died, scrubbed floors, wept and fought for us.”