Letter from the editor: A brief note on “When the wind of freedom falters”

Opinion by Billy Gallagher
Oct. 2, 2012, 3:28 a.m.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman and Senior Associate Vice Provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises Shirley Everett wrote a letter to the editor today pointing out inaccuracies in The Daily Editorial Board’s Sept. 27 editorial “When the wind of freedom falters.”

These inaccuracies consisted primarily of conflating the roles and responsibilities of Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) and Residential Education (ResEd). As the chair of the Editorial Board and editor in chief of The Stanford Daily, I regret these inaccuracies. We should have more deeply researched the distinctions between the two organizations.

However, the two organizations are not as separate as the letter to the editor implies. For example, the letter reads, “The student management programs in Row houses, Row and Suites kitchens, and Row board plans are facilitated by Residential Education.” Yet according to R&DE’s website, they are responsible for providing funding for “ResEd, Grad Life, Res Comp, and G&A for campus service.”

Can a group that provides funding for ResEd and often works closely with ResEd really be absolved of ResEd’s actions and seek to distinguish itself as a totally separate entity? It’s a distinction that matters far more to the administrators than to the students.

Additionally, the revocation of Chi Theta Chi’s lease, which would ostensibly fall under “student management programs in Row houses,” was also signed by Rodger Whitney, the executive director of Student Housing, which is under the purview of R&DE. How can the University claim R&DE has no influence over Row programs when they are in charge of student housing? The letter says “the University” decided to revoke Chi Theta Chi’s lease, but we did not see President Hennessy’s name, or Provost Etchemendy’s. Only directors from R&DE and ResEd.

Nonetheless, I think the most important aspect of the response was its failure to argue any substantive points. The Editorial Board sought to provide examples of larger trends within the entire University administration as a whole. The piece’s mistakes, while regrettable, don’t change the main thrust of the editorial. We still stand strongly behind our support of student independence and our protest of University actions.

These administrators passed on a key chance to address the core of our editorial’s argument.

“XOX is only the latest casualty of what appears to be a comprehensive plan to mitigate University risk at the expense of the student experience,” we wrote. And yet the student experience was only briefly and very vaguely touched on in Boardman and Everett’s letter to the editor.

Every administrator I’ve spoken to since we published the editorial has mentioned it, despite the fact that we’ve been meeting about other topics or just happen to be passing each other. The editorial was read thousands of times by students, administrators, alumni and community members.

And yet, today’s letter only explains what the two departments do. That’s an extremely disappointing response as we seek to build a dialogue on an issue that affects the entire student body.

But dialogues only work if both sides are willing to engage in reasoned, open conversation.

Billy Gallagher
President and editor in chief, Vol. CCXLII


Billy Gallagher is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. He has previously worked at The Daily as editor in chief, a managing editor of news, news desk editor, sports desk editor and staff development editor. He is a junior from Villanova, PA majoring in Economics. He is also a writer for TechCrunch.

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