“I am the Lorax. I speak for the ‘Tree’” . No, I’m not misquoting Dr. Seuss. I’m talking about the news that broke today about the registrar’s proposal to change the earliest class to 8:30, speaking on behalf of a huge portion of the Stanford community united in their common representation by the unofficial mascot of the Tree: Stanford athletes. As a member of the lightweight rowing team, I have been a varsity athlete for the past three years. Being on a sport at Stanford is not just an activity, it is a lifestyle. It influences how I eat, sleep, study, and even think. Rowing crew has taught me things that no class could ever so deeply impress upon my soul. Beyond the importance of teamwork, it has taught me that when times get tough, it’s better to see problems as opportunities to transcend weakness by choosing to dig in and pull harder rather than give in to get my boat’s bow ball to the finish line ahead of the other crews.
Stanford’s culture celebrates student’s achievements both inside and outside the classroom like no other university I have ever seen. Upon coming here, I was overwhelmed by the tremendous respect and support for excellence in all its forms: whether you can juggle six hundred flaming bowling pins at once, code an entire operating system in a few hours, sing the Iliad in original Greek, or move a ball up and down a field or court with incredible agility, you are AWESOME and contribute to the collective awesomeness of this university. No matter what you do, your accomplishment builds to a cohesive whole that drives Stanford, and the rest of the human race, forward. This unbelievable spirit has pushed countless people, myself included, to keep going and to be the best that they can be no matter how tough times get.
That’s why I was so disturbed to hear of the Registrar’s decisions in today’s article in the Daily. Most sports on campus have practice twice a day throughout he year; usually one of those practices (whether it be rowing on the water, weights, swimming, conditioning,etc.) happens before 9:00 class and finishes just in time to get to 9:00 class. Having classes start any earlier would make it impossible for many athletes to effectively plan their class schedules around practice to take the classes they are passionate about and need to graduate in four years. This would severely hinder the academic experience for many athletes who chose Stanford for its top-shelf combination of academics and athletics. Moving classes any earlier than they are would also be deleterious to athletic performance. Stanford athletes don’t win national championships and Olympic gold medals automatically by being at Stanford and soaking up the glorious northern California sunshine year round while their competition elsewhere in the country is stuck trudging through a snowbank to practice inside; they win only as the result of hours of practice and good, old-fashioned hard work. If we have to shift our practice schedule any earlier to accommodate for an earlier class schedule, our practices will be much less effective as we will have less time to sleep and eat in accordance with our high energy demands. In rowing, we like to say that every stroke you take “off”, mentally or physically, is one stroke behind the competition; clearly, any lack of focus can get you left at the starting line. I highly doubt that anyone who calls himself or herself a Cardinal wants to see this happen on the grand scale.
As an upperclassman, I vividly remember Dean Julie saying during orientation that whenever the Cardinal takes the field, we ALL take the field. So, when you think about whether or not you will really miss your pre-class donut in the morning (or, for that matter, whether or not you even go to early morning classes), think about the sense of pride you get from dancing to “All Right Now” every time we score a touchdown, the sense of pride you feel when your friends win a national championship, the chills you got when we won the Rose Bowl. Whether we realize it or not, pride in athletic accomplishment is so deeply engrained in the very fabric of our school’s culture and identity that we cannot act contrary to it. Sign the petition to make sure it stays “All Right Now”.