Author Archive - Peter

About Peter:

A former Daily columnist, Peter "Shotgun" McDonald still has more to say. Address hate mail to

The Screams These Walls Shall Not Contain: A Personal Statement

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

by Peter McDonald ’11, Chi Theta Chi resident 2009-2011

The walls of Chi Theta Chi are thin, very thin, as are the floors. Solitude comes at a premium, though the space is still suitable for studying. The thinness of the walls has significant effect on house life, though. They are a constant annoyance for the more gossip-minded residents because there is a significant chance that whomever they’re talking about, might actually hear them, even if they’re on the second floor (the presence of gossip, by the way, indicates the presence of a healthy, functioning community, because it means people actually care about what other people do). The walls and floors also pose a problem whenever someone decides to blast their music, a lesson I learned numerous times throughout the years. This is not a soundproof house by any means. The audible manifestations of joy and passion that fill it spill out into the hallways frequently. The courtyard is almost a whispering gallery.

In the summer of 2010, my computer started booting for eternity. For the following year, my second in Chi Theta Chi, without the money or time to spend fixing it, I had to rely on the computers in the cluster in the basement. Like all parts of XƟX, the cluster had its own personality, one that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the residences on campus. The paint job is light blue. The ceiling above the cluster is mostly drywall. A knock on it produces a hollow sound. It did have a couch, which became my bed for about three to four nights each week, when I didn’t feel like making the two-flight trek back to my assigned room. One would not think that a person could become attached to a computer cluster, but by the end of just two quarters, attached I became. I spent so much time there that it was a running joke among the residents that I lived in the cluster. Sound travels downward as easily as it does any other direction; any loud noises from the dining hall or the foyer will make their way into the cluster.

I have heard that Stanford is in the midst of a mental health crisis, a crisis motivated by the “Stanford duck syndrome.” We all tell each other that we are not alone, and then we spend almost all of our times away from each other, either physically or with an electronic shield. I remember the lounges of my residences freshman and sophomore year. They were almost always empty. After the first weeks of fall quarter at the max, one feels foolish for wanting to bond with one’s housemates, and so our struggles continue underneath the surface, the metal doors become the mirroring pond, with the reinforced walls, at the expense of learning about each other and growing together, all to preserve the essentialist veneer, the veneer that plagues the Ivy League, the veneer we all buy into at our own cost, the belief that “those kinds of things,” the kinds of things we don’t want to but need to talk about, just don’t happen at Stanford. At Chi Theta Chi, the common areas are almost never empty. We must carry out our unpleasant business with at least some effort. (more…)

Exotic (Chaotic) Erotic was tonight,

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

It's downright Hobbesian.

and so far, six ambulances were witnessed driving down Campus Drive.

It would be irresponsible of me to speculate as to why those ambulances were there, but I thought that was an interesting fact.

BTDubs, it’s still a lame party

The Best Reason for Why Stanford: No Final Clubs

Friday, April 29th, 2011

GTFO Winklevii

I was never so lucky to have the problem that some of you admits are having.”Oh no, how will I ever choose between Harvard, Princeton, AND Stanford?” In some ways, I hate you. As a safety release valve for your newly inflated ego, most people will tell you that where you go to school doesn’t really matter, that it doesn’t say anything about you as a person. They’re wrong. The phrase “A Stanford man” or “A Yale man” may sound super old-timey but the sentiment never goes away. The school you go to does in fact reflect a portion of your character, and that’s why you need to go to Stanford.

We try not to tell you this, but Stanford’s in a little  bit of turmoil right now. There are huge divides over the return of ROTC, of the change in the Standard of Proof for sexual assault cases. The almighty wrath of ResEd just shut down a frat house, and they’re looking to do the same for one of the co-ops. However, despite all the internal strife that you just walked into, everyone you meet will put on a smile and tell you enthusiastically to “Go to Stanford!” Many of them aren’t quite sure why they feel the imperative to be a cheerleader, especially considering the general shittiness of the administration around here. There is an answer though, and it lies with America’s new favorite duplicate embodiment of privilege and entitlement, the Winklevoss twins.


Why Do You Hate Justice, Stanford?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Daniel Barton just cannot believe the injustice.

A recent op-ed by A Man Who Graduated Over Twenty Years Ago, Daniel Barton, took obvious glee in excoriating sophomore Viviana Arcia and her support of the University’s decision to lower the standard of proof from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of evidence” for sexual assault cases. I can just hear the derisive laughter that only someone with a law degree can produce as he was writing this, and it makes me sad, because the journey toward making a just society is a slow and messy process and goobers like Mr. Barton aren’t making it any easier.

His sentiment is understandable, entirely understandable. After all, “innocent until proven guilty” is one of the most treasured phrases in America, followed by “beyond a reasonable doubt.” “I’d rather let a thousand guilty men go free than let one innocent man be punished” and all that. All very inspiring stuff that nobody wants to speak out against. When it comes to the issue of sexual assault though, things get a little bit thornier.


But I Thought Smart, Caring Citizens Voted: Your 2011 ASSU Reality Check (Part 2)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Read Part 1 here.

Diddy is voting for Fantastic 4teen.

On this eve before the voting commences, this Reality Check wraps up with a review on the referendum that’s got everybody’s gender-neutral underwear in a twist, a call for citizens to action, and an uninspired joke about Mayor McCheese.

Referendum A

Despite a ringing endorsement from Obama himself (Lord, forgive me for linking to The Weekly Standard), ROTC is strug-guh-ling to return to Stanford a 41-year exile. Honestly, it’s amazing how little people mention the history of its banishment. This issue literally almost tore this campus apart back in 1970. Next time you have a moment, track down a 1970 Stanford Quad to see some crazy photos. Back  then, the issue was about publicly supporting the military when they were engaged in a war nobody wanted to be in. Now, it’s a battle of weary ROTC commuters vs. advocates for trans equality. Stanford is weird. (more…)

But I Thought Smart, Caring Citizens Voted: Your 2011 ASSU Reality Check (Part 1)

Monday, April 4th, 2011

In terms of entertaining seasons, ASSU Election season ranks above Duck Season (No, Rabbit Season) but below the first season of Archer. Highlights include Senate who may not know what ASSU stands for, their WordArt-enhanced flyers that have default formatting and slogans that even Soulja Boy would find insipid, the rhetorical paroxysms of The Stanford Review over the wasteful spending of the Band/Daily/all ethnically-based organizations, students that wouldn’t be caught dead taking Intro to CSRE complaining about the racist power of the SOCC, the mystical return of middle school values that make apathy cool again, and best of all, the Obama-esque (both in rhetoric and attainability) promises of the executive slates with the knowledge that the winner has a 50% chance of ending up embroiled in a corruption scandal. Wow, I guess college does prepare you for the real world.

2011 is no exception. This is my guide to: The 2011 Elections for the ASSU, Which Totally Doesn’t Do Anything At All, Right Guys?


An Open Question to Stanford Parents

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Hello, parents. I hope you have been enjoying your stay during Parent’s Weekend and all the wonderful programming that the university puts on to convince you that you’re not wasting your money. I’m excited. Since you’re (sort of) finally in one place, maybe I can get an answer to this question that’s been bothering me for at least a few months now:

Why would you buy your kid a Range Rover?

We goin' down down baby

My tenure at Stanford has provided an unexpected education in the habits and ethos of the upper-middle class, and in a weird way, it’s been humbling. I’ve learned that being from certain suburbs and going to certain prep schools doesn’t preclude a family from having financial difficulties (in fact, it’s usually the cost of housing and education that causes them) and that flaunting one’s wealth is a trait pretty exclusively reserved for people from the 1900’s and rap stars, especially out here on the West Coast. Despite all the horror stories I hear about rich people and their kids, and despite this being a campus where 35% of the freshman class didn’t even apply for financial aid, I have yet to see any Jaguars or Mercedeses in student parking spots and only a handful of Beamers in almost 4 years. I find this phenomenon inspiring because it reassures me that Stanford is in fact not filled with people who like to shove their privilege in everyone’s face. However, I have noticed on campus recently a strident counter-example located (and fittingly, some would argue) in an around the Bromuda Triangle: The Range Rover.