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To apologize in advance

When I first came across Cory Booker’s Daily columns, part of me was prepared to be disillusioned by yet another politician. I came across the columns through a recent Daily article titled ‘Presidential hopeful’s intimate columns about race, homosexuality and groping incident resurface.’ With such a title, given the current political environment, his collegiate writing seemed liable to incriminate him in more than angsty musings on California weather or dining hall food.

‘Rent plus Ramen equals stipend’: Twenty years later, Stanford’s graduate student crisis persists

In 1998, nearly one thousand Stanford graduate students staged a rally and camp-in protesting unaffordable campus housing options and financial insecurity. In the cold and rain of night, they pitched tents in the middle of Main Quad and covered them in signs that read, “Look Mom, no housing” and “Rent plus Ramen equals stipend.” Over 20 years later, the issues they raised continue to create significant hardship for many.

Rural America: Learnings from farms for the Farm

Recently, Tom Schnaubelt highlighted Stanford’s demographic disparity between the percentage of rural Americans and rural Stanford students (19.3% nationally versus. 5% at Stanford). I’m an urban/rural mutt. While I didn’t solely grow up in rural America (I went to high school in Denver), I did most of my growing in rural America. For my whole…

Mistreated moderators and the pervasive violence of the internet

Recently, the Verge published a look inside one of Facebook’s deals with a content moderating contractor. Facebook hires these moderators to screen posts reported by users for violating their community standards. These moderators look at reported posts and decide whether to delete or allow them. Author Casey Newton was able to convince some former Facebook moderators, who are generally prohibited from discussing their work by NDAs, to tell her about their experiences. Their stories are deeply upsetting; they are routinely forced to witness extreme violence, constantly monitored and held to incredibly high standards for speed and accuracy. Accuracy is determined by how often moderators’ decisions agree with the decisions of slightly more senior moderators; more senior moderators are given a random sample of a regular moderators’ processed posts and asked to make their own judgments. At Cognizant, for example, moderators must be “accurate” at least 95% of the time. Within the Cognizant work site Newton examines, some moderators have responded to constant exposure to the worst of Facebook by buying into the conspiracy theories. One person genuinely believes the earth is flat, another has become convinced that 9/11 was not a legitimate terrorist attack, and another denies that the Holocaust took place.