Author Archive - GawkerStanford

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Campus Entrepreneurship Reaches New Low (or High or Whatever)

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

(From the Facebook bulletin board thing.)
I’m not sure if this is real or not, but it’s pretty good either way.

Stanford Student IKEA Shopping Spree! (palo alto)
Reply to: [redacted]
Date: 2007-09-18, 11:56PM PDT
Are you moving into a new dorm or house at Stanford? Is it horribly tacky and in dire need of decoration? Do you not have a truck? Then this is for you.
For a flat fee, this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we provide:

  • pickup at your dorm
  • chauffered drive in a late model Jaguar to Palo Alto IKEA
  • 3 hours of shopping time for you to get EVERYTHING you could want
  • design advice for your living space (caveat: no promises here, we’re 2 guys)
  • pickup of all materials, no matter how big and unwieldy
  • chauffered drive in late model Jaguar back to your dorm room
  • delivery of said items TO YOUR DORM ROOM in our truck/trailer
  • ACTUALLY SETTING UP ALL YOUR STUFF so you don’t have to touch a screwdriver

Meaning that you don’t have to think about a thing, just getting what you want, in your dorm, in one day. No gas, no hidden fees, no tax, no nothing, just peace of mind.
I am a current Stanford Junior, and my colleague is a recent Stanford alum (with a truck) looking for a little manual labor on the side when he isn’t designing Facebook applications. I worked on campus this entire summer, and have LOADS of previous moving experience, both intra-California and cross country. We know the area and the people at Stanford like the back of our hands.
$150 includes absolutely everything: our time, our delivery, our setup, and you can even listen to whatever music you want on the drive to/from IKEA.
Email with questions. Come on people, I need to pay for my books too! Help a fellow student out, and save yourself from a drab room!

I wouldn’t take design advice from these fellows if their “services” were free. And why exactly does one need “LOADS” of previous moving experience to set up an Ikea hemispherical chair thing? And how did he get that Jag/where can I get one?

NSO Inculcates Unwitting Freshman, Transfer Students; Parents Never to See their Children Again

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Beware non-freshmen: the time has come to face the inevitable. A new crop of freshmen — fodder for the less-drunk-than-you-think-he-is SAE fratter, the annoying overachievers in Polisci 2, the ones who think they’re cool enough to go to Kairos Wine & Cheese — are about to arrive on campus.
But how do the freshmen become the way they are? I blame it all on over-programmed and highly-scripted NSO. A sampling of the events, with commentary and interpretation.
Tuesday, 1-3PM. Green Library Tours. Um, yeah. I’m guessing this is for the parents. What are they going to show them? The warm-and-fuzzy Bender Room, with every couch and chair occupied with upperclass students fleeing the chaos of move-in day?
Tuesday 7:30-9:30PM. House Meeting and Social Activity. I know cheesy icebreakers when I see them. I used to hate that game when everyone went around and said their name and some sort of sign or something, and then each person had to remember all the people before them. I was always at the end and would forget everyone’s names.
But everyone will know each other’s names through Facebook stalking anyway, so that’s not a concern.
Tuesday 12PM. Website Open for PWR. Sucks to be you, suckas! Enjoy the Rhetoric of Whatever.
Wednesday, 8:30AM. Chemistry Placement Test. Sucks to be you, suckas! But you could stop pretending to be a premed and not wake up this effin’ early.
Wednesday, 2:40-3:30PM. For Students Considering Humanities and Social Sciences: Choosing Math and Science Courses. For the wusses who won’t take fitty-one, I suggest Math 19, which seems like the easiest course at Stanford (see “Gut Courses” entry below).
Wednesday, 4:30-5:15PM First Course: Feed your Body, Mind and Spirit. I like it how at Stanford, all the various religions pretend to get along. InterVarsity reigns supreme, though.
Thursday, 9:30 and 10:30AM. Associated Students of Stanford University (student activity information panel). The froshie’s first chance to realize that the ASSU does nothing.
Thursday, 11:30AM-12:30PM. Public Service and the Arts: Stanford Students Dance in Prisons. “What are the arts, especially dance, doing to address this invisibility and what is the relationship of the arts to prisons, punishment and rehabilitation?”
I couldn’t help but think of this video, and wonder if it’s anything like this. If so, it might be kinda fun:

If it’s not, this sounds like it has the substantive level of your average PWR course.
Friday, 1-3PM. Hume Writing Center Open House. Has anyone actually ever been there? I don’t even know where it is.
Saturday, 5:30PM. Stanford football versus Oregon. If we score a touchdown, I’ll be pleased. Oregon just crushed Michigan (admittedly not much of an accomplishment these days) and might challenge Cal for number two in the Pac-10. Predicted score: Oregon 52, Stanford 7.
Monday, 9PM-11PM. O-Show. Around the fourth a capella group, it becomes insufferable. And then you have to squirm through another five or so.
Enjoy NSO!

OSA, Freshman Dean’s Office Invades Facebook, Does What They Do Best

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

Props to my source “Shoes” for this one.
It appears that the freshman planned a capture-the-flag game in the Quad for the night before NSO started. They were remarkably prescient–discussing whether there would be masses of chairs in the Quad, and so on.
The event description, as it stands right now:

Just for whoever’s around on the night of the 17th. Meet up in the middle of the main quad, in front of MemChu (it’s hard to miss; if you get lost call my cell) at around 930pm on the 17th.
And invite other o11ers to come!
***How does everyone feel about playing a massive game of Capture The Flag in the Quad (or in the oval if there are chairs in the quad)? If you guys wanna play, let me know and I’ll bring the stuff.

But then, DISASTER STRUCK.
One kid posted, “stephanie [the planner] told me that the dean’s office told her that it’d be shut down by the cops since it isn’t registered, but that they would help her throw a party during NSO.”
Welcome to the OSA’s Rules and Regulations, froshies. It’s going to be a fun four years. One fellow on the wall suggested a pig roast as a replacement.
Then Jim Kim, who a quick Google search reveals works in the Freshman Dean’s Office, went ahead and posted a comment that serves as the final wall post.

Hi folks.
I wanted to clarify that the call to Stephanie came from me. Know that I’m not looking to quash your fun, nor are my fellow staff members. That said, we’re also not interested in frosh starting NSO with bruised heads, twisted ankles, or severe exhaustion after wandering from the Oval and getting lost all night. We really do care about you. Seriously, we do. Hence, the adjustment in plans.
There have been a few mentions of Stanford Police. They share the goal of keeping you safe, but they’re not the ones who postponed this. I made the call. Hence, if you’re fired up because you’re frustrated by the change of plans, come on in to Sweet Hall to chat with me about it. On the flip side, if you’re fired up to try and plan future events, also come find me.
Props to Stephanie and the other connectors that have emerged. We look forward to helping you find more great ways to bond as a class. Until then, remember that Mark already called jail keeper.

So that means that not only is the Stanford administration invading Facebook in large numbers (and several of my professors are on it already and I am terrified that they will see my painstakingly crafted profile). Does this give the OSA the potential to interdict parties at the Facebook level? Will they post on the wall of Facebook events? This was a freshman-planned event, taken over by the Freshman Dean’s Office after they saw the event on Facebook.
I suggest that non-OSA approved parties (OMG! non-approved parties!? where I can go to those!?) go “secret” from now on.
I also can’t imagine how an event planned by the FDO would look. Would it be as bad as the ASSU parties this summer, or even worse, Full Moon on the Quad/Mausoleum?
Sounds terrible.
Sorry froshies about Capture the Flag! Next time don’t invite so many effin’ people!

What are the “gut” courses at Stanford?

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Gawker ran an interesting piece today essentially just showing an e-mail send out by a TD’09-er at Yale listing all the “gut” courses by department. “Gut courses” means “easy courses” although I’ve never heard the term used before. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing, something lost on the West Coasters/Best Coasters. The comments at the bottom of the post were particularly vicious, and illustrate just how good some people are at getting by without doing very much work, or anything at all.
Anyway, what interests me is what are the easiest courses at Stanford? The ones that tend to fill up with people looking for an easy GER, boost their law-school GPA, and people looking to make their 12-unit slackerdom into 17-unit respectability.
Some nominations:
Biosci 1. Human Evolution and Environment. I personally took this class and maybe spent two total hours on the class outside of lecture, which I never went to anyway. If you took AP Bio in high school, you know all you need to know.
Sleep and Dreams. Every humanities major’s favorite NatSci GER, no one really takes the class seriously but apparently it’s harder than it looks. But I still can’t take the class seriously.
Introsems in general. Did anyone really have to do any work in their introsems freshman and sophomore year? The only work I had to do was the old standby “every student has to summarize the reading and lead the discussion for one class.”
The “global human geography” series in history. You can take three of these and be halfway to be a history minor, which is ludicrous because these classes aren’t even really history per se. The textbook looks like it could be for high school freshmen.

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USNEWS RANKINGS LEAKED!

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

According to a press release leaked at IvyGate and various other college-admission-related sites, the following is the USNews rankings for universities for next year.
1. Princeton University (NJ)
2. Harvard University (MA)
3. Yale University (CT)
4. Stanford University (CA)
5. California Institute of Technology
University of Pennsylvania
7. Massachusetts Inst. Of Technology
8. Duke University (NC)
9. Columbia University (NY)
University of Chicago
11. Dartmouth College (NH)
12. Cornell University (NY)
Washington University in St. Louis
14. Brown University (RI)
Johns Hopkins University (MD)
Northwestern University (IL)
…and so on.
Stanford was tied for fourth with Caltech and MIT last year, and now it’s in fourth by itself. Cal is 21 for those of you who care (I don’t).
A few key points:
(1) Stanford students tend to be highly anti-institutional with regard to rankings, acting as if they do not matter. But it’s hard to underestimate just how important USNews rankings are for when students choose colleges. It’s interesting that students will tend to choose Stanford over all schools except Harvard, Yale and MIT. It roughly splits with Princeton, according to “A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities.” (It’s a statistical paper, link here). It’s important that Stanford continues to compete for the very best students–the ones that also get into Harvard, or Princeton, or whatever. Harvard at the moment dominates what one calls the “cross-admits,” and of students getting into both Harvard and Yale, 86% go to Harvard. Wow.
(2) There’s an interesting chicken-and-egg problem with rankings. The rankings shape public perceptions, and those perceptions then come back and shape the rankings, and so on. The public would find it hard to believe that, say, Penn is #1, but having Harvard or Princeton at #1 reinforces the public’s idea. A Gallup poll conducted a couple of years ago had Stanford tied for third, behind Harvard and Yale, but second amongst the “highly educated,” interestingly.
(3) The rankings are mostly irrelevant for those already in college, but for high school students picking a school, they certainly do matter–witness the hundreds of thousands of copies of the magazine sold every year. Students want to go to the best, most prestigious school possible. The rankings help shape those perceptions. That’s why most people pick Harvard, the undisputed king of the castle when it comes to attracting top high school students. Is Harvard objectively better than other schools? Not really, but there has to be a reason why students want to go there so badly.
(4) According to an article in the Stanford Review printed last year, Stanford was ranked higher than it is now. It’s unclear why, but Stanford’s SAT profile is slightly lower than H and P, has more athletes (with indeterminate effect), and has slightly less in the top 10% of the class. But the most problematic measure is “alumni giving rate.” Stanford has always had a weaker alumni community than Princeton–compare 34% to 61%. But Stanford fund raised $911 million, THREE HUNDRED MILLION more than any other school (Harvard was second). Do you think President Hennessy cares if alumni donate if they’re breaking fundraising records anyway? Methinks not!
(5) While Stanford dominates the West Coast, they need to do a much better job competing on the East Coast.

The Decline and Fall of the “Stanford Party Crew of 2011”

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Breaking news! The Facebook group “The Stanford Party Crew of 2011” has wizened up under scrutiny, and not only is the message board down, but one has to request to join. Because your correspondent is fearful of getting rejected from such an elite group, that just might be the end of mocking that particular group.
But do not fear! Your correspondent is sure, certain, confident–that there will be many drunken freshmen at the first parties of the year, and many pleased Sigma Chis. Watch out, Class of 2010 girls. Your position is about to be usurped in the eyes of that red-faced “really nice guy” in the pink polo holding the red cup. Class of 2010 boys, however, should take heart. You might actually have a chance with a girl that doesn’t live in your freshman dorm.
Second item on the menu today is an ongoing feature over at Gawker: a vote for “America’s Most Annoying Liberal Arts College.” Stanford isn’t on the list, of course, as it isn’t a liberal arts college. Duh. We’re a research institution, a place where humanities majors feel oppressed, and to make themselves feel better, buy as many Moleskines as they can find.
Your correspondent is personally surprised that Reed only received 4.4% of the vote. At a University of Chicago (that notoriously free-market institution) information session, the speaker made a crack about Reed burning SUV’s in the main quad. It’s still unclear whether it actually happened or not.
This correspondent is left wishing that the contest was instead “Most Annoying University.” This would be most interesting. Who would make the list? Who would win? The self-righteous pricks from Harvard? The preppy douches from Princeton? They’ve managed to establish their own colony at Stanford–Sigma Nu. The angsty trendsters at Yale? Or should we look lower down in the rankings–the people who chose a good football team, and as a result, live in Indiana? That would be Notre Dame.
Third, and finally, your correspondent is pleased to report that the ASSU party on Saturday WAS NOT A DISASTER. Surprising, isn’t it, considering the ASSU’s track record of Mausoleum, FMOTQ, and this year’s Senate?
But how on earth did the party actually go off successfully? There are a few reasons:
(1) One needed a “college ID” to get in, meaning that most high school students here for a summer program could have gotten in. Strike one for sketchy.
(2) Everyone pregamed so extensively that most people walked in completely sloshed.
(3) There honestly wasn’t anything else to do.
(4) Everyone had already inhaled the last HP book in one go.
That’s all for this period of time’s installment. Your summer-at-Stanford correspondent, over-and-out.

Goings-On About the Farm

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Your summer-at-Stanford correspondent does not have much to report, as campus has been pretty much dead.
But not quite dead. or maybe undead. Several (!) parties occurred on campus, both at SRC (Manzanita) and Mirrelees. I know, I am amazed too. How these engineers and physicists have time to party, between their lab assignments going late, the three classes they’re taking, and the MCAT’s to study for, is beyond me. But party they do. The proliferation of cheap beer is alarming, and somewhere, somewhere, someone has to be drinking Charles Shaw. Please, people. For me.
Also, in case you didn’t know, grad students play that “angles dangles” drinking game, much like undergraduates do. Your correspondent was terrified of finding a former TA playing a game that seems to be suited for the ages of 5 to 7. Fortunately, none where to be found.
The best part of the weekend, however, was the Chelsea FC versus Club America football game. Despite the determined efforts of a drum-playing, dancing, banner-waving, feet-stomping America-supporting section in the upper row, Chelsea was able to overcome an early goal to win 2-1. Stanford Stadium was maybe 80% full, much to this correspondent’s surprise. ESPN claims that 47k came (stadium capacity is 50k) but that’s not true. The article goes on to contend that “The Club America supporters were out in full force. Huge blue and yellow streamers were strung through the rafters, a constant stream of ticker tape rained down, and the fans barely stopped singing and chanting for a second.” Here‘s also the SF Chronicle’s article.
Your correspondent was rooting for Chelsea FC, of course, and taunted friends supporting the other side with insults like “God Save the Queen!” and “The sun never sets on the British Empire!” Strike a blow for maturity.
This upcoming weekend’s highlight will most likely be the “Summer Jam 2007!!!” It’s an ASSU party, and judging by the rampant successes we all know the Mausoleum Party and Full Moon on the Quad to be, it’s going to be rollicking, good, clean fun. It also clearly merits the three exclamation points. We elected these people, remember.
It appears to be planned by Vice President Mondaire Jones and Senate Chair Priyanka Sharma. So far, 68 confirmed guests, who are all obviously coming because “having fun at Stanford is mandatory!” as the event’s description contends. The Facebook link is here.
I’ll put the over-under on event guests at 100, and their average length of stay to be just 15 minutes, enough to pillage the food table and leave. Those physicists need to eat.
But the real highlight of this upcoming weekend will be the release of HP7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The Stanford Bookstore is hosting a Harry Potter-themed breakfast on Saturday at 8AM (this may be the only time the entire summer I will willingly get up at 8AM). There’s a Quidditch broom-decorating contest, a costume contest, and more. In other words, it will be a million times better than the ASSU party. Borders in Palo Alto is also having an event, which is described as “An evening of wizardly activities, fantastical games, and stupendous giveaways!” Borders’ events starts at 9:30 on Friday night, with book proliferation (it’s much more dramatic to say that instead of something banal like “distribution”) occurring at midnight.
The Stanford Bookstore’s event description is here (it’s PDF).

“The Stanford Party Crew of 2011”

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

IvyGate reported on a Facebook group called “THE Princeton ’11 Party Crew,” and specifically, the breathless reporting by one group member of his alcohol-related activities. This member, interestingly, is one Antonio Villaraigosa Jr, who, of course, is the son of the embattled LA mayor, who himself is watching his chances to succeed Arnie just slip right out of his hand. The Princeton Facebook group is here, and IvyGate’s backup of the incriminating wall post is here.
This of course caused Villaraigosa Jr. to delete his posts, and everyone on the Princeton group to freak out. One wall-poster put it at its pithy best: “We got screwed…yay.” I’m not sure why Ivy Leaguers act the way they do, but I noticed further back on the Princeton group wall posts, some Harvard girl was posting that her school was better: “However, Harvard is widely recognized as top dog. While I don’t hold anything personal against any of you, it’s fun to acknowledge the reality that Harvard parties dominate any of your “get togethers.”
And then I also noticed that a Stanford student went ahead and stuck the Cardinal into the inane debate about which campus parties harder: “But you guys sure are ripping them off. Stanford had a ’11 party crew group long before you guys made one. I think the display of envy is apparent. = )” The Princeton and Harvard people agree, in response that “Stanford isn’t worth our time.”
What is amazing about all this is that none of the students have actually attended college.
Yes, they may have partied during their Admitted Students Weekend or whatever (Stanford is alone among top schools in its draconian dry policy), but that hardly means anything when upperclassmen are trying to get clueless high school seniors drunk.
I think it hit the proverbial fan when media-and-gossip-gadfly blog Gawker picked it up, calling it “Fun with Facebook.”

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Presidential Psychology

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

One of the most interesting aspects of the 2008 presidential campaign to me is observing the ambitions of the different candidates. Each of them, it seems, has this overbearing desire, an ambition, to be the President of the United States (POTUS). This sounds banal. What I mean, however, is the desire for the presidency seems to be rooted in personal psychology rather than position papers. It’s all about being the POTUS.
Like, for example, Mitt Romney. He can’t stop talking about his father, George Romney, a popular governor of Michigan who lost the 1968 Republican nomination to Tricky Dick himself, Richard Nixon. G. Romney was leading in polls until he doomed himself by opposing the Vietnam War. Would Romney be running if his father never made the attempt? It’s hard to say. How much of a father-son dynamic is there?

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Report from the Farm

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

It’s a common misconception that Stanford shuts down for the summer when students leave, professors do field research, and everyone forgets about college for three months while pursuing their i-banking internships.
This is completely untrue. I went home for a week, and returned to find that the campus was just as active as it was during Spring Quarter. It’s true that most people now on campus are not Stanford students, but Stanford is surprisingly alive. First, there are Stanford students themselves, clustered on the far edge of East Campus, mostly in Summer Research College (SRC, in Manzanita), Mirrelees, and Wilbur. Second, a lot of professors are still here, doing research and preparing for class.
But third, and most impressively, is the number of camps going on. Just riding to Tresidder, I saw huge packs of 12-year-old girls in soccer cleats and shin guards, tall, skinny boys with basketballs, and a sign for “Swim Camp.” And there’s also High School Summer College in Lagunita, Junior Statesmen Summer School in Governor’s Corner (proud ’03 alum!) and the Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) spread out all over campus. And these are just the camps and summer programs that I know about. There must be dozens of others over the course of the summer.
I also suspect that Stanford is profiting nicely from each camp. For programs like EPGY and Junior Statesmen Summer School, just holding the program at Stanford adds cache and prestige. And High School Summer College means that high schoolers pay for Stanford classes, at around $4k a pop. It makes sense economically–no one really lives in Stern, Branner, Flomo, etc. over the summer, and they might as well rent out the dorms to outside programs who will gladly pay for the privilege. And then students get to experience a taste of the Stanford life. There may be no Band Runs, but they can fountain hop (as I saw a bunch of students doing today in front of MemAud).
And I, for one, am glad to see that things aren’t desolate over the summer.

Media coverage of ASSU elections roundup

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

The Dailyhas three big articles on the ASSU elections today.
The centerpiece is Christian Torres’ article on the SOCC endorsement process. He takes a look at the controversy surrounding SOCC, and the relationship between Brett and Lakshmi, one of the two leading slates for ASSU Executive and SOCC. They, like Avula/Jones, discuss diversity in their platform, but SOCC has endorsed Avula/Jones.
A second article is about the endorsement process for three of the major student groups: SOCC, Stanford Democrats and the Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA). [Full disclosure: I have been endorsed by the Dems and QSA for my Senate campaign]. The endorsement processes are very different.
A third article notes that the Senate will be voting on a controversial resolution endorsing divestment from Israel.
The Stanford Review’s Elections Issue came out a couple of days ago. They endorsed candidates for Senate and Executive, and wrote blurbs about all the Special Fees groups, although interestingly, did not give a simple thumbs up/thumbs down for them. All of their coverage can be found at Stanfordreview.org.

Stuart Baimel for Senate

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

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My name is Stuart Baimel and I am pleased to be running for Senate this year. I recognize that the ASSU cannot do everything, and promising policies that will never happen (despite student-government promises every year, Dead Week remains alive) is not the best way to go about this campaign. Instead, I want to focus on policy issues that have a significant and attainable impact on student life.
One of my primary objectives for next year’s Senate is to promote the arts. I’ve spoken to the members of many arts groups, large and small, and the two complaints I hear over and over again are a lack of funding, and partially as a result of that, difficulty with publicity. I believe that the ASSU next year can do a far better job of funding the arts, a sphere of campus life that should not have the funding problems that it currently does. The ASSU, in addition, has a formidable publicity apparatus that could easily be used to promote arts events such as performances, SOCA’s Art Affair, and ongoing exhibits.

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