Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

FMOTQ 101: Pick-Up Puns

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

“The time has come, the Sophomore Class Cabinet said, to talk of many things.

Of PSETs and football and dormcest, of awkward hook-ups and flings.”

The Master (get it?!) of infidelity himself.

Welcome to October 22, 2013.  A day (or rather, night) that shall live on in infamy.  Known to some as Full Moon on the Quad and known to others as a “Moonlight Makeout” (…if it’s on SparkNotes, it must be legit?), FMOTQ is a Stanford tradition that has freshmen and seniors alike worrying about their dental hygiene.

So grab your mouth wash and your sparkliest spandex (for girls and guys alike), because it’s time to enjoy some food truck grub, watch student groups (Mendicants / Alliance / DV8) strut their stuff, swarm with the truly incomparable LSJUMB, and get down with DJ Lumo.

And, of course, kiss that special someone.  Or maybe multiple someones.

To help you find that sketchy grad student, innocent freshman, or subsequent box on your bingo chart, here are some Nerd Nation-appropriate puns to keep you in the game:

  • On a scale of 1 to America, how free are you tonight?
  • I wish I was your derivative so I could lie tangent to your curves.
  • If I were an enzyme, I’d be helicase so I could unzip your genes.
  • I don’t have a library card, but do you mind if I check you out?
  • It doesn’t take a genius to see how attractive you are, but if it did, I would be overqualified.
  • Baby, if you were words on a page, you’d be what they call FINE print.
  • I wish I were adenine because then I would be paired with U.
  • You know, it’s not the length of the vector that counts… it’s how you apply the force.
  • What’s your sine?  It must be pi/2 because you’re the 1.

…and perhaps the most appropriate for our CS 106A, Silicon Valley-loving undergrads:

Hi, I’m writing a new make-out program.  Would you like to join the beta test?

Be sure to stay sober and keep it classy, though.  Nobody wants to see you come into your dorm like a wrecking ball.

Happy smooching,


PS – For more nerdy pick-up lines, click the hyperlinks.

When Fools Rush In

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

You’ve spent an hour blowing your hair out. You’re tugging at your shirt, making sure it isn’t bunching in any weird ways. You’re trying to convince yourself that your cutest pair of flats aren’t pinching your toes, your throat isn’t sore from talking, and your cheeks don’t hurt from persistent smiling. You’re making PG-rated chitchat with the girls next you in line, notably those with last names of the same letter as your own. Suddenly you hear it. The clapping. The scream-singing. The doors burst open and you hear the incessantly catchy lyrics of yet another anthem as you’re quickly ushered in. This is rush, and you’re effing exhausted.

            I could write a pretty hefty article full of tips and advice that echo the sentiments of Stanford’s Inter-Sorority Council, many of the girls you’ll talk to during rush, and possibly your RA or friends that have gone through the process before. I’m going to try really hard not to do that. If you’re planning on going through girls’ rush, you’re going to hear a LOT about how “you should really pick the place that’s best for YOU”, and how you should just focus on “being yourself”. No offense to all of that, but it’s a little trite, and you’ve undoubtedly heard it all before. This is an article for those of you thinking about going through rush, maybe on the fence about sororities in general, maybe unsure of what exactly to expect from the whole process. I want to give you some concrete advice, hopefully some of which that you haven’t  already heard before, that might actually help you figure out if Stanford’s sorority scene is right for you.

A little background: I am a member of one of Stanford’s housed sororities. For the sake of this article, I don’t think it’s really important to say which, as the things I want to talk about will focus on Stanford’s sororities as a whole.


Descent of the Parental Units

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Excellent PhotoShopping? Really awkward memories? The world may never know.

Parents Weekend 2013 is upon us, and you know what that means… free food!

No, I kid, I kid*, it means that your parents may well be on campus, and if so they’ll be REALLY excited to see you, spend time with you, talk to you, hug you, dote on you, and otherwise keep you really, really busy… right in the midst of midterm season.  The timing, in a word, is inopportune.  Every year I gently remind my parents of how busy I am because I’m trying to make the most of my education.  Every year they not-so-gently remind me that they’re paying for that education.  Touché, parents.  Touché.

In the interest of keeping your parents happy while you keep your academic head above water, here’s a brief guide to parent-friendly resources and activities.

Stanford it up.

The Parents Weekend coordinators have put together a truly wondrous array of opportunities for your progenitors.  If you remember nothing else from this post


There are classes, receptions, tours, and fairs galore.  The whole calendar can be found here.

Don’t let your dad be that guy.

Teach ’em the lingo.

Stanford acronyms are really confusing to the uninitiated.  Help a brother… er, mother out and clarify the quirky verbiage that might otherwise lead them astray:

Go off the beaten path

Here are some quirky ideas for the parents who’ve been there, done that, and want to try something new on their 2nd, 3rd, …, nth Parents Weekend:

  • Cantor Arts Museum is one of the most underrated locations on campus, and The Thinker’s back!
  • Your hipster parents visited Hoover Tower before it was cool?  No worries!  If they’re active, a nice alternative (with breathtaking views) is the Dish walk.  It takes about 1.5 hours to walk, so can be a nice breather (literally) between classroom-based activities.
  • Sit in on an off-beat class.  There are lots of classes just for parents today, but Explore Courses has thousands.  One thing my parents like doing is visiting classes for what they majored in in college.  Also, courses like Psych 1 and CS 106A are both crowd-pleasers, and they’re both offered on Fridays!
  • Make sure they don’t miss Memorial Church.  A lot of my friends still haven’t gone, and it’s by far my favorite spot on campus.
  • Original student artwork is being showcased in the Cummings Art Building right now!  Check it out to support our budding artists.

*But seriously, work that free food angle.

Don’t make your parents fend for themselves while you’re in class.  Refer them to this list of on-campus eateries, or the full plethora of Stanford Dining’s offerings here.

When you’ve finally beasted the last midterm of the week, take advantage of Palo Alto’s diverse culinary fare!  Mom and Dad are lookin’ to treat (probably even your friends, so that they can start those criminal background checks), and there are lots of offerings.

I hope this is helpful, and happy Parents Weekend, everyone!

Gangnam Style, Global Citizenship, and the (Secretary) General

Friday, January 18th, 2013

As Stanford students, we have been charged – by the Stanfords themselves in the Founding Grant – with the responsibility of “promot[ing] the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.”  The words that Leland and Jane wrote down over 120 years ago in honor of their late son still ring true today, for fuzzies and techies alike.  Whether you are applying for a visa to study abroad or someday praying for favorable trade relations so that you can expose your product to a new market, international relations matter.  So if you’re curious about IR or just wondering why there were police dogs outside of Dink yesterday, read on.

Today, the UN has 193 member nations.

Crash Course: Meet the U.N.

Founded in 1945, the United Nations was born out of the need to address global hostility post-World War II and the League of Nations’ failed attempt at creating an international body that could effectively address international issues.  Despite starting afresh, the formation of an international regulating body still did not sit well with some countries, and after the Soviet Union turned about-face on first Secretary General Trygve Lie due to the UN’s role in the Korean War, the UN was almost doomed to the same fate as the League of Nations.

Like a boss.

Fortunately, Lie’s fellow-Scandinavian successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, strove to prevent the UN from disappearing altogether.  However, the UN has had its share of drama, from the Soviet Union’s desire to create a troika to replace the Secretary General to the Annan family’s Oil-for-Food scandal.

Despite the issues that have arisen, the United Nations remains the predominant world body persistently working to maintain peace between nations and provide aid to those who are hungry, oppressed, illiterate, and ill, deploying approximately 120,000 peacekeepers from over 110 countries and feeding over 90 million people a day.  In the words of current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “we [- the UN -] deliver more humanitarian aid than anyone.”

BMOC: Ban himself

The man with a plan

This Thursday afternoon, Ban Ki-moon came to address the Stanford community and discuss the role of the UN in our rapidly transitioning world.  Expressing his excitement at being able to speak on campus, Ki-moon joked that “Stanford has subtly made its mark on the world…… and that is just your football team.”  But beyond voicing his appreciation for California and joking that after a trip to America as a teen, he “was the 1950s equivalent of PSY” because he was so popular when he got home, Ban Ki-moon emphasized a need for American citizens to help address the profound global change that our world is facing today.  To make his point clear, Ki-moon elucidated three primary ways to navigate our changing world – his points are as follows.

1) Sustainable Development

First, Ki-moon urged individuals to be more conscious of their consumption of Earth’s resources, as “there can be no plan B… because there is no planet B.”  Asserting that “we cannot drill or mine our way to prosperity,” Ki-moon explained his goal for 2030: that everyone in the world will have electricity, solving a current dearth of energy for 1.4 million individuals.  His environmental stance reflects current initiatives at Stanford that you can get involved in, from the Stanford Solar Car project to the Green Living Council.  As Ki-moon said himself, “I know you understand – after all, Stanford’s mascot is a tree.”

2) “Dignity and Democracy”

Focusing on civil unrest in Syria and Mali, the Secretary General illuminated the main concerns for addressing international conflict, including funds, access, and political divisions.  He wants to provide certainty to young people who have uncertain futures, and uphold the human rights of those who can’t defend themselves.

3) Women and Young People

Similarly, Ki-moon argued that women and young people are the “most under-utilized resource” in today’s world.  He called for “more women in the Cabinet, more women in the Parliament, and more women in the boardrooms,” and is proud that South Korea has its first female president(-elect).  Because “half the world is under 25 years of age,” Ki-moon has appointed a special envoy on youth, who will hopefully be a proponent for children and young adults around the world.

“We Are the World”

In sum, Ban Ki-moon discussed a variety of pressing issues that he and his peers in the UN need our help to address.  It is in this vein that Ki-moon wrapped up his talk; rather than talking about how the youth are the future, he argues that it is time to recognize that young people “have already taken their leadership role today.”

So, Stanford students, let’s take Ki-moon’s advice.  Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to recognize the importance of international cooperation and impartiality.  It is time to be global citizens.

A Beautiful Symbiosis: Stanford and its Alumni

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Awesome photo credit: Bridget Vuong, B.S. ’12, M.S. ’13

Upon graduation, one of my favorite members of the class of 2011 stated, “we may leave this place, but this place will never leave us.”

As a senior, I’m in the sunset year of my undergraduate experience, and profound observations like this imbue me with a sense of premature nostalgia.  While I’m blessed to have two more years here on the Farm (thank you, coterm), I can’t help but gaze a little more solemnly at sunset-splashed Hoover Tower as I bike home from class, and yell a little too enthusiastically at football games.  Our time here is fleeting and, as our breathtakingly fast quarter system constantly reminds us, it is too easy to get caught in the ride and miss the scenery.

As a tour guide, I’m fortunate to serve as one of the main ambassadors to alumni when they return, a little grayer and a little more well-loved, to their alma mater.  The exclamations vary (“I can’t find anything – what are all these buildings?”  “Is that a bear on top of the Claw?”), but one sentence and sentiment permeates each conversation I have with them.

“You are so lucky to be here.”

“Yes, definitely!”  I reply.  But the answer is never sufficient; saying it once is never enough.  The 80-year-old gentleman looks me dead in the eyes: “you are so lucky to be here.”  And as our eyes meet I realize it has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the love he holds for this school, this history, the friends made and experiences had, the freedom, the spirit, the limitless passion that is this place.  “This,” he is really saying, “is my home.  May it define you as it has defined me.”

Arrillaga Alumni Center – residence for all classes preceding 2011

This Homecoming weekend, Stanford comes back alive with the memories of decades past.  Quad arcades ring with the cacophony of reverberated laughter as the conversations and company echo an earlier time.

Though I don’t know them, and they were never my classmates, it feels like a great big family.

I like to believe that there’s a reason football tailgates are fraught with happy Stanford offspring munchkins.  There’s a reason the Alumni Center never uses the phrase “Welcome Back,” but rather “Welcome Home.”   Stanford students never truly leave; they simply take progressively longer vacations.

I’m grateful for the constant presence of Stanford alums in the Stanford community today.  From services like Stanford Alumni Mentoring to the vast influx of alum recruiters during events like yesterday’s Career Fair to the massive student send-off parties throughout the nation, it’s amazing how people who have never met you are rooting for you.  Fellow students, that is an awesome phenomenon.  Make sure to foster that relationship, keep it strong, and someday, let’s make sure to return the favor.

To the Stanford alumni completing the pilgrimage this weekend:  thank you, and welcome home.

NSo Excited!

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

    Summer is coming to a close once again, and fall is making a comeback… and it’s bringing more than earthy tones and a new set of trends with it. It’s also the host of a new batch of freshmen, the Class of 2016.

    Although not yet on campus, Sixteen has already managed to become a topic of conversation and a subject of memes in the Stanford community. “Why?” you may ask. Well, it goes without saying that this class is bringing in world-class minds and athletes alike… but doesn’t every class? A freshman class filled with awesome people that you can’t help but talk about is the usual at Stanford. We know current students love nothing more than a surge of ohmigod-I-can’t-believe-I’m-here freshmen, right? I mean, aren’t we cute? (maybe don’t answer that…)

   So, in addition to the usual, super-legitimate reasons, Sixteen has managed to build a reputation through its online presence… gotta love the digital age! Between the Confessions from Stanford ordeal and the level of activity on The Official Stanford Class of 2016 Facebook group, Sixteen has gotten people talking… but it’s more than just the class itself that’s caused a stir, it’s also the changes coming in with us. For example, our Three Books aren’t books. We have a documentary, an app suite, and one book… which is about a metalhead growing up in rural South Dakota. Without three books, is it still true to the Three Books program? People have a whole scope of opinions about that, as you can see by perusing this article from The Daily: “Choice for Three Books Disappointing”.

    For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to hear/talk about these things, I’ll give you a quick summary. Confessions from Stanford is a blog started by Amelia Brooks ’16. She started off using the blog to write about her journey, as an applicant, to Stanford and to give advice to prospective applicants. Then, seeking a variety of voices, she turned to her fellow Sixteen-ers and asked others to post as well, and post they did. The larger Stanford community caught wind of the blog, and before you could say “we love freshmen” there were words like “presumptuous” and “ridiculous” being thrown around. People were aghast that rising freshmen would have the gall to write about Stanford before they even got there, as expressed by StanfordGirlProblems.

Confessions from Stanford

This is what the blog looks like, although I wasn’t able to capture the disclaimer in this picture.

A lot of the ill-feelings that sprung up are undoubtedly related to the blog’s title. The “from” implies that it is coming from Stanford, which it wasn’t because the bloggers were obviously not yet at The Farm. You can’t help but wonder if this is an arbitrary matter being blown up out of proportion… I mean one has to concede that “Confessions from Stanford” is a lot catchier than “Confessions from Where I Live Which Will Eventually Be Stanford.” However, examination of the blog shows that it has a disclaimer, which shows that things have obviously been carefully thought out. Was this questionable choice on the name just a poor oversight? Will things be different once the bloggers are on campus? We’ll have to wait and find out.

   However, in the spirit of objectivity, there are some points that need to be made. First, the blog was not giving any kind of advice about being at Stanford, it talked about getting there and aimed to convey the experience of making the transition to life as a Stanford student. Second, although some find it presumptuous that the authors wrote about admissions, it is worth remembering that as undergrads, we’re all only admitted once. Whether it happened two or ten years ago, it is a singular experience that remains unchanged as time passes, as does one’s level of knowledge about what really happens in the admissions office and about why some admissions angel chose them… but I’ll let you form your own opinions. Yes, some of the posts can come off as a tad presumptuous, so get the info you need to shape your opinions by checking out the Confessions from Stanford blog and enjoy this bit of info straight from the source: The Daily will be interviewing Confessions from Stanford founder Amelia Brooks herself.

   As for the Class of 2016 Facebook group, all you really need to know is that it’s always buzzing with activity. In fact, the Word Association thread boasts nearly 23,000 comments.

The Word-Association Thread in the c/o 2016 FB group

(I apologize that it’s in Spanish)

This may seem obscene to you, but Sixteen can’t help it, we’re pumped for Stanford and can’t wait ‘til NSO! We’re “NSo excited!”

PAC-12 Network: Plus or Minus?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

It is my first real week of summer.  And yes, I am already bored.  My general routine for curing boredom involves 1) indulging in crappy TV 2) attempting to repair my sleep debt (impossible) and 3) keeping up with my sports teams like no one’s business.  Being that I’m not emotionally invested in basketball (read: I’ll-watch-it-but-eh), that leaves me Giant’s baseball and my football teams, the Niners and of course our Stanford football team.

Amidst my avid googling, I came across this SF Chronicle article.  It notes that our first football game of the season (at home v. San Jose State) has been moved from Saturday, Sept. 1st to the night before at 7pm.  That is right, ladies and gents, we will have a Friday season opener.  While this may not be that significant in and of itself, I think it gives us Stanford fans something to think about.

While Friday home opener is a little disappointing, the change itself is not the most significant part of the story, especially since not many students will be able to attend anyway (you can count me there).  It leaves me to question, how many more times/dates will be switched on us to satisfy the PAC-12 Network?  Looking at other team’s schedules, we aren’t the only ones to have Friday night games (which I’m not that opposed to. High school anyone?), but some teams even have Thursday games scheduled.

With late Thursday classes and sections, I wonder, if we do have a home game yanked to a Thursday, how many people will we lose?  How many season ticket holders won’t go because of work early the next morning? How many students will have a mandatory attendance section?

Our home game schedule already sucks, as noted by Kabir earlier this year (article here).  We have only three home games while school is in session.  USC happens before school starts.  Big Game was moved to… OCTOBER.  While I may be a tad (okay, REALLY) emotional about this since it will be my last football season as an undergrad, I still feel like any Stanford undergrad who attends home games probably feels like they got cheated…just a little bit.

The upswing to all of this, of course, is that every PAC-12 football game will be televised nation-wide, which is great for revenues and visibility and especially great for Stanford alums that live out of area.  This is an amazing perk and will be great for the conference and for our school.  I am personally hoping for a full season of hard-hitting football in which last year’s middling PAC-12 contenders really step up, and we give SEC fans something to think about.

Still is the weird schedule worth the perks?  I, for one, am on the fence.  Let me know what y’all think!

Do you think the PAC-12 Network brings more good than bad?

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BASES 150K Challenge End of Year Finale Tomorrow

Monday, May 21st, 2012

The Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students, known as BASES, will be holding its end of year exhibition and finale tomorrow (Tuesday, May 22nd) at the Arrillaga Alumni Center. This event marks the culmination of the 150K challenge, a funding competition for entrepreneurs and product inventors where 150,000 equity free dollars will be handed out . The finale promises to be interesting and will have a diverse mix of entrepreneurs, investors, students, and others from Silicon Valley. BASES was even just recently featured on TechCrunch for this event, which is a pretty big deal.

Doors open at 1PM and inventors will be showcasing their products to finale attendees. Ex Zappos COO and current venture capitalist Alfred Lin will give the keynote address at 4:30PM with all 150k challenge prize winners to be announced shortly thereafter. Check it out tomorrow and tell us your thoughts!

Update: RSVP for the event here.

Rove at MemAud: Obama’s done “Boo-do-diddley-squat!”

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Robert Gibbs- Photo credit to Chris Seewald

Last Tuesday Karl Rove and Robert Gibbs duked it out in Memorial Auditorium. The debate, moderated by Stanford Professor Rob Reich, was actually pretty interesting. Reich started the debate by asking both Rove and Gibbs to “role play” and switch sides, each arguing for their opponent’s case. Predictably, Gibbs started off by declaring how Romney has no special insight into how to manage the American economy, especially given his record in Massachusetts. Rove then retaliated by bringing up Obama’s largely unfulfilled promises from his first election campaign, claiming that new “unifying” leadership is needed. Reich pushed each debater to better answer the prompt,

Karl Rove-Photo credit to Chris Seewald

which neither initially addressed, and joked about the difficulties both contestants had with not pivoting, much to the amusement of the audience.

While both candidates dodged and skirted their fair share of inquiries, Rove took the prize for eluding questions. When pushed on several occasions as to establish whether or not he supported transparency in SuperPac donations, for example, Rove deliberately brushed the question aside, stating simply, “If that’s the lay of the land, then that’s the lay of the land.” Reich eventually gave up and moved on. Surprisingly, Rove was very clear with his opinion of the DREAM Act, declaring that it should be done by states and not on the national level. This is a significant departure from the majority of Rove’s Republican compatriots.

All in all, the debate lived up to its promise of entertainment; both men stuck close to party lines and agreed that, to get anything done, compromise and cooperation are imperative. Rove however, won without a doubt, showcasing impressive skill in debate. Granted, Rob Gibbs is much closer to the upcoming presidential race than Karl Rove and has a lot more at stake with what he says, but Rove’s witty comebacks and no-holds-barred language (declaring one of his dissenters a “no-good lying sonofabitch”) enhanced his case. Furthermore, Rove spoke more extensively on major points than Gibbs and often interjected during Gibbs’ responses with the Republican counter-argument, citing a laundry list of facts and previous legislation.

Video of the debate after the break…


CIA recruiting on campus today

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Are you interested in an exciting career committing war crimes?

Central Intelligence Agency

 If you have marketable skills in:

Or providing assistance in any form for an organization actively engaging in the above activities, then the Central Intelligence Agency has plenty of opportunities for you! The CIA has a long history of successful collaboration with Nazis and other top war criminals. And it’s one of the hottest start-up incubators for terrorist groups; training, funding, and arming some of the most well-known terrorists and war criminals in the world. If you want an exciting career disrupting peace and prosperity around the world–and finance isn’t your thing–you can make a real impact at the CIA, literally!

Wednesday at noon, the CDC will be gracefully hosting an information session to learn about job and internship opportunities for students at the CIA. (But be careful, there may be some protesters trying to disrupt the event…)

Living down “Jaws”: Shark Week and beyond

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

You may have heard that this week is Stanford Shark Week, especially if you’ve been frequenting Y2E2 or Herrin Hall.  If anyone had told me, as a high school senior applying to college, that Stanford had a week of events dedicated just to sharks, I might have taken my chances and skipped applying to those 11 other universities.  This week celebrates the passing of the CA Shark Fin Ban AB 376, which came into effect this January 1st.  California was the last of the West Coast states to ban the sale and possession of shark fins, hopefully closing the U.S. ports to the trade.  The author of the bill, Paul Fong, will be speaking at Stanford on Thursday at 6pm, and there will be additional lectures from superstar biologist Barbara Block on Wednesday, as well as film screenings on Tuesday and Friday.

Really, it’s about time sharks got some positive publicity.  They are more than simply giant toothy fish–in fact, they are an entirely different branch on the evolutionary tree, closely related to rays, skates, and the inexplicably adorable ratfish (tell me you don’t love that face!), but evolutionarily speaking are about as closely related to the bony, scaly fishes we all know as us humans are to our close cousins the lizards.  Sharks have not only some of the most impressive but also the most ancient jaws in the animal kingdom–they are the oldest creatures with jaws alive today, and there are over 300 species found in both freshwater and saltwater.  There is even a shark that lives off the coast of Greenland (creatively titled the Greenland Shark) that has on at least one occasion eaten a reindeer.  In addition to their famous eating abilities, some sharks can leap out of the water like whales, sense a millionth of a volt of electricity in water, and give birth to live baby sharks, which are called pups.

Why is it s difficult for us to appreciate sharks in the way that we admire other top predators like polar bears and wolves and birds of prey?  Do we have affection for only predators with feathers or fur?  I’m sure most reasonable people would agree that harvesting shark fins for soup is cruel.  But sharks are hardly cause for concern for most of us. They should be.  They should be a priority not just because they are endangered and useful for balancing the ecosystem but because they are unique and beautiful in and of themselves.  We don’t want the sharks to disappear before we can get the Jaws theme out of our heads.



Five Minutes with a Freedom Rider

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

On Wednesday night, the Stanford NAACP, MECha, Black Student Union, History Department, African and African American Studies Department, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute kicked off Black Liberation Month at Stanford with an evening discussion with three original Freedom Riders.

The Freedom Rides were a notable part of the Civil Rights Movement, where an interracial group of bus riders set out to test a new law outlawing segregation in transportation terminals.  Sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the riders used nonviolent, civil disobedience to highlight the injustice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.

One of the Freedom Riders who spoke on the panel earlier today was Helen Singleton, a former student of Santa Monica City College at the time, who decided to get on the bus for social justice.  After the event, I asked Helen five questions:

1) You used nonviolence as a strategy to highlight the injustice of segregation – is there ever a place for violence in a social movement?

Helen: No. That’s the short answer. First of all, violence has been around for a long time. It was the message that’s been used against poor people, and against black people in the South for two to three hundred years. All they had to do was hang you, shoot you, burn your house, and people would back down. That was something that they were very good at. And so you can’t beat them at that game, because that’s their game. We had to have numbers of people – I’m not saying that we want to have them get beat – but we had to not respond with their weapon of choice, which is violence.

2) Do you think the civil rights movement is over today?

Helen: No, not as long as Martin Luther King, Jr. says, as long as there is injustice anywhere, it is injustice everywhere.  And there is still plenty of injustice.

3) What would say are the current civil rights issues?

Helen: The most outstanding one? I can’t say. Because there are so many, and they’re not as clear cut now. It’s more covert now, and it’s more widespread now. Even though I do consider the civil rights movement as have been successful, we were combating overt injustice. That is, we could see it. The signs were there.  But now, you don’t see the signs. The Ku Klux Klan isn’t wearing hoods anymore. They wear three piece suits and carry briefcases. What needs to happen now is for people to learn the new ways. Actually, they’re old, but they’re done differently. And we just need to learn to be smarter and outsmart them at their game.

4) What do you think is the social movement of today?

Helen: It’s up to the new generation to know what the social movement is. I can see that there is something called Occupy Wall Street, and I can also see that there are other things happening. But, each generation has its own issue.

5) If you could give one piece of advice to today’s activists, what would it be?

Helen: Get organized. Have a clear cut goal. And know what you’re going after. And that you can only do one thing at a time, because you can’t change everything at once. You can work on different fronts, but you need to know that you need to focus on one thing at a time – and you have to define it for yourself and go after it.

Salzburg…more like Waltzburg.

Monday, January 30th, 2012

design by Kat (Meng) Jia, image from


The Viennese Ball is the last vestige of Stanford’s bygone BOSP in Austria.  Students in Vienna (ok, not Salzburg) apparently created the ball after they returned home.  I imagine the class of ’78 students going to an on-campus party their first weekend back and feeling nostalgic for the classiness they left across the pond.  Their dreams of class and capering were limited only by the fact that the first Viennese Ball was held in Toyon, and lacked the glamour of a capacious off-campus location.  Now it is held in the swanky Hyatt Regency in Burlingame near the San Francisco airport.  It’s a pretty place–the kind of hotel where all the guest rooms have iHomes.  The hotel features, among other things, a 24-hour fitness center, a sunday champagne brunch, and a “historical sports bar” called Knuckles.  There are separate rooms for waltz and swing, performances by a host of really talented Stanford dance groups, competitions for brave waltzers and swingers, and food in the lobby.

Besides the splendor of the location and the undeniable coolness of getting off campus on a Friday, you get to watch people who really, really know how to dance (the Opening Committee) just before you step out and try your feet at the waltz.  If you don’t know how to waltz, you have several options.

1. Learn to waltz before the ball.

If you’re taking Social Dance 1, the illustrious Richard Powers has probably been teaching you the waltz for a few weeks, but for others the Viennese Ball holds Austria Fortnight, a series of dance events for two weeks designed to teach beginners how to do the kinds of dances that will likely be featured at the Ball, as well as give more experienced dancers a chance to practice and get really excited about February 10.

2. Fake it.

Pretending that you know how to dance is a time-honored tradition itself. This approach works much better when your dance partner is aware of your deception.  This also tends to work better with swing than waltz, because the nature of the waltz requires you to pretend you know what you’re doing in the same direction that everyone else is actually doing it.  However, swing is fairly easy to improvise, and it’s possible to look snazzy and not have a clue what you’re doing as long as it goes with the beat and style of the song that’s playing.

3. Watch the performances.

If you really don’t want to dance after trying and failing to synchronize yourself, you can hop from room to room and watch the performances and competitions.  You don’t come to a ball to stand around, but there are far more irksome ways to pass an evening than by standing around in formal clothes watching incredible dancing.

So for those who enjoy their pomp with a dash of circumstance, or anyone who loves to dance, get tickets!  It’s happening on February 10.

“Occupy: Something Borrowed or Something New?”

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

As part of Stanford’s 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, two incredibly renowned professors will be holding a discussion tomorrow comparing and contrasting the Occupy movement and the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968. Stanford’s own Clayborne Carson will be accompanied by Harvard professor Charles Ogletree at the Black Community Services Center at 7:30pm. A civil rights activist, Carson has taught all over the world and is the director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute . Ogletree, a Stanford grad, is known for his work in court as well as in the classroom. He also fought hard on behalf of the survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, taking their battle for reparations to the Supreme Court. If you’re currently occupying a library on campus or are otherwise interested in the Occupy movement, the discussion promises to be interesting and provide a much appreciated historical perspective. 

Hot Prowls and Unsubscribe-List-This: Stanford 2011 Year in Review

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Yeah, that's about right.

A predominantly factual, occasionally satiric reflection on the crazy year that was 2011.


  • After a record 11-1 season, Stanford Football continues to dominate in its 40-12 romp over Virginia Tech.  The almost banned Band celebrates with a party on the beach as hundreds of students ditch the first day of Winter Quarter.
  • Beloved quarterback Andrew Luck proceeds to solidify his Stanford hero status by deciding to forgo the NFL draft and finish his Stanford career.  Arrillaga scraps plans for the fifth on-campus gym to construct an edifice in Luck’s honor.
  • Confusion, fear, and panic, but mostly confusion grips the campus as Stanford Police fervently warns the entire student population of a Hot Prowl via mass text alert system.  As is the case with most current events on campus, “Hot Prowl” quickly becomes a popular party theme.
  • To add to campus confusion, mid-January brings mid-60’s and sunshine.

Also offered starting spring: Math 2 / Music 4B: Days of the Week in Modern Song


  • Based on the popularity of hit single “Friday,” the Office of the Registrar introduces Phil 240: Front Seat / Back Seat: Existential Determinism in the Age of Rebecca Black
  • Valentine’s Day week heralds the annual V-week and the sale of chocolate va-jay-jays.  Despite promoters’ claims to the contrary, the student population remains convinced that “V” stands for very-awkward.


  • Rogue reporters “out” Stanford athletes through sensational reporting in a Stanford Daily article on “The List.”  Student-athletes respond: “dude, you could’ve just picked up a copy if you ever went to the gym.”  Professors respond: “don’t misquote me, bro.”
  • Kappa Sig loses its housing, and fratstars adopt a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, scavenging social entrepreneurship mixers and RA candy bowls for subsistence.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy graces the halls of Stanford, generating more fanfare than Bill Gates and the Cataracs (though I admit that’d be an awesome name for a band) put together.  Ms. Frizzle plans a visit for 2012.
  • Stanford men’s swimming wins its 30th consecutive Pac-10 championship.  In other news, Stanford Hospital completes its first successful gill-removal surgery.

Revelers participate in the Stanford spring festival.


  • Embracing Stanford’s hippie tradition, Stanford students choose to tie-dye their entire BODIES!!  Just kidding, that’s paint from the Asha Holi Festival on Sand Hill Fields.
  • Fear once again grips the campus as students find themselves on constant lookout for Indian men smelling like apples.
  • The great mailing list fail of 2011 (see also: “unsubscribe-list-this“) proves that, given an audience of thousands, Stanford students choose to post dozens of videos of silly cats and zero profanities.  My faith in humanity is restored.
  • Perez Hilton visits campus.  Hilton’s tweets on the visit: 37.  Stanford students in attendance: 8.
  • ASSU elections come and go.  The Wellness Room is still doing well.

Ah, the semi-charmed Stanford life....


  • ‘The annual 680 Lomita Exotic party committee runs out of words that rhyme with “exotic” and opts for more direct marketing.  “Sweaty, Partially Naked People” is a great success.  Or at least people think it was.  Most don’t remember.
  • The International Hide and Seek champion is finally apprehended in Pakistan.  Osama bin Laden’s death is heralded with fountain hopping and “America, F*** Yeah” blaring from freshman dorms.
  • Third Eye Blind hosts a free concert.  Excited to reclaim their youth, Stanford students show up in droves with Beanie Babies and Giga Pets. (more…)