Editor’s Note: Making Stanford Great Again
by Philip Clark
Editor’s Note, Volume LVIII
The first weeks of 2017 have not been calm at Stanford. The Department of Education has continued an investigation into the Title IX office in response to the record number of lawsuits filed against its handling of sexual assault arbitration. In response to a groundswell of student support, the administration reversed its decision to ban Band for the remainder of the year. And the inaugural week of Donald J. Trump’s presidency produced a number of executive orders that bear directly on Stanford students.
In the past few days, national and university politics have converged. A Stanford PhD student was detained at JFK as part of a ban on Sudanese citizens entering the United States. Pressure on the administration to declare Stanford a “sanctuary campus” has mounted. President Trump’s election has shaken people’s beliefs about what is politically possible. We are witnessing an almost unprecedented split between those who are hopeful about the future and those who are fearful, angry, and disappointed. Questions that Stanford students have long discussed, such as immigration and sexual assault policy, are now being debated on a national scale. The results of this debate will have reverberating effects on the campus and the country.
The easiest and most natural response to rapid change is to trust our preconceptions and retreat into our echo chambers. The steps we as a campus have taken to achieve a more open-minded paradigm of debate are threatened. Venues that helped facilitate inclusive and productive dialogue have all but disappeared: OpenXChange is gone and, as the Band incident illustrates, the administration continues to operate through opaque processes and unbalanced decrees.
This volume, the Review pledges to help you fight that inclination. In the midst of this uncertainty, there is an opportunity for positive reform. Emphasizing problem solving over instinct, Secretary of Defense Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis once told his soldiers that, “The most important six inches on the battlefield are between your ears”. We too will seek to create a climate of civil engagement rather than radicalized retreat in these trying times. From sexual assault investigation processes to treatment of student organizations like Band, we will identify campus and administrative policies in need of reform. The Review will not hesitate to take a stance on these issues. We will never tell you how to think, but we will always challenge you to think uncomfortably.
A Monday Review meeting in Old Union 215 never passes without stark disagreements. Our internal culture demands thoughtful dissent, analytical writing, and civil debate; anything else would be unproductive. We will bring the same vibrant discussion to the rest of campus as it grapples with the difficult questions that will continue to arise in the months ahead. The Review will force you to reconsider your stance on important issues by publishing careful analysis and exposing you to voices that would otherwise go unheard.
As Stanford students, we have the ability not just to demand, but also enact change if we choose rigor over emotion and reform over obstruction. Student backlash over the banning of Band is a case in point. By clearly articulating the double standard being applied to Band and pledging to reform the organization, students successfully reversed the administration’s decision. Likewise, Stanford reformed the Title IX arbitration process last year only because the silent Stanford majority voiced their opposition to the office’s chronic inability to provide provide justice for victims of sexual assault — and due process for the accused. Title IX’s record, to be sure, remains abysmal. But students will only succeed in overhauling it if we continue to take an active role in outlining strategies for positive change.
Almost three decades ago, the first editorial of this publication promised that the “Stanford Review is here to stay.” Today, the values we stand for are more important than ever as America undergoes dramatic change. 2017 will mark the first year in a new global and national political order. We also hope it will mark a new approach to campus politics at Stanford — one where the Review’s continued presence at Stanford helps channel thoughtful dissent toward realistic reform.