Posts Tagged ‘memchu’

Filter Function: in Defense of “Sketchy” Grad Students

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

GSB admit weekend T-shirts? Too soon?

It’s summertime at Stanford, which means there are more people getting married at MemChu than you can shake a stick at.  The Quad’s colonnades and courtyards are positively bursting with bridesmaids in various pastel shades, and each procession of limos can hardly clear Palm Drive in time for the next nuptial motorcade.

Yes, Stanford students get married.  But most intrinsically to my point, Stanford students often get married to each other.  Not to beat the dead horse of the Contemplation or Action IHUM, but “ay, there’s the rub.”

You see, the Stanford Alumni Association is more than happy to point out to incoming students, current students, even prospective students (who promptly look around their Discover Stanford tour group in a mixture of excitement, apprehension, and horror), that about a fifth of Stanford students end up marrying other Stanford students.  Most of these folks meet their future mates by the end of sophomore year.  So juniors, you’re stuck.  Hope you like the pickings, ’cause that’s it.

Just kidding!  In all seriousness, though, it’s an interesting topic of discussion, one which is usually met with “oh-nos,” “oh-weirds,” or chortles and quick changes of topic.  Why the cold shoulder to intra-Stanford spousing?

So maybe I’ve been watching too much How I Met Your Mother, but the real world of dating outside college looks like it sucks.  From show to show and girl to girl, you suffer with hapless Ted who, despite being an attractive and successful architect, simply cannot seem to land a winner.  Accuse him, if you wish, of “searching for love in all the wrong places,” but quite frankly, what is the right place?  In college we’re blessed with a preponderance of extracurricular activities in which we can meet and enjoy the company of those who share our passions and interests.  When you’ve got a nine to five job, it’s a lot harder to pick up activities just for kicks and funzies.

So what’s the real-world alternative?  Bars.  Where the Barney Stinsons of the world trawl the seas of the single.  In a bar the first impression is appearance.  Boom: hot, not, or eh-why-not.  You’re instantly judged as a piece of meat, and the Barneys don’t care if you love sustainability or saving the pandas – they care if you look, shall we say, appetizing.

This, my friends, is why college serves as an excellent built-in filter function.  So yeah, there are a few folks that seem to have slipped through the cracks of our stringent admissions process, but you just as well as I can look up the stats online.  Even if you get someone in the bottom fifty of the SAT score rankings, you’re still doing just fine, and it’s quite possible Mr. or Miss Perfect is busy curing cancer, building the next generation of electric vehicles, or composing a symphony in  his or her spare time.  Everyone here possesses “intellectual vitality” in some way, shape, or form, and everyone has the shared experiences (or sufferings, depending on your take) of IHUM, PWR, and Stern Dining.  And if money is any object… well, let’s just say that with a Stanford grad you’ll probably be doing just fine.

So I kind of resent it when my friends and acquaintances mock “sketchy grad students looking for wives.”  Well, can you blame them?  This is their last shot at the Stanford filter function, and the approaches of the outside world leave much to be desired.  I think there’s a reason college sweethearts Marshall and Lily are the happiest characters on How I Met Your Mother.  And their love is legen – wait for it! – DARY.

Office for Religious Life apologizes for MemChu acoustics

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I’m not sure exactly who received it, but I just received an email from Scotty McLennan, Dean of Religious Life from the Office for Religious Life. Here’s the body of it for anyone who didn’t get it:

The Office for Religious Life apologizes for the poor acoustics that we know affected many people’s experience of the Dalai Lama’s Rathbun Lecture in Memorial Church last Thursday, October 14, 2010. Our intention to debut a new state-of-the-art sound system did not yield the results we desired. To this end, we wanted each of you to know that the fully intelligible video is now available on-line at: The video will also be available to view and download at Stanford on iTunes U ; and the Stanford Channel on YouTube within the next week. While this is the current consolation we can offer, we are also producing DVD’s to be available to all registered ticket recipients within the next few weeks. When they are ready for pick-up, we will e-mail you again with detailed instructions.

Thank you for joining us at “Harry’s Last Lecture on a Meaningful Life” last week. We hope to see you at a future program, at which time we expect to have greatly improved acoustics.

For those of you who weren’t there, the acoustics were pretty awful. Were you sitting in the back of MemChu, you could really only hear the echoing of sounds from the front. Everyone was sitting there, giving each other sidelong glances and trying to stay perfectly still as even someone scratching their brow felt so amplified. Talking to a few people afterwards, they had the same thought that the Dalai Lama wasn’t even speaking English because it was so incomprehensible. Maybe 10 minutes into the Dalai Lama’s short planned remarks, something kicked in to make the rest of it better, but even so, it was a little tricky to hear. That I appreciated.

Unfortunately, I’m also going to whine and say it was a little too late. As I just said, the Dalai Lama had few prepared remarks, and the part I could hear wasn’t very meaningful because I had no context for it. I was told that this would be one of the most meaningful things I would ever hear, yet the only thing I remember is that he was talking about compassion in a good way. And he was clearly the inspiration for Yoda.

Given that, I’m glad the apology was sent out, and I’m satisfied with it. Watching the recording isn’t quite the same, but knowing I was there to have the remarks directed to me and getting the content later is good enough. It’s too bad that this was the event that they discovered this problem at, but I’m glad they apologized.