Editor’s Farewell: Admitting our faults

Opinion by George Chen
June 13, 2014, 1:44 a.m.

I’ll never forget how I stumbled into the Daily office for the first time.

I was a wide-eyed freshman trying to find my way to Daily 101X, The Daily’s freshman orientation, and I was lost — it turns out “behind Old Union” isn’t a useful direction for a freshman who has no clue where Old Union is. First I was at Tresidder, then Axe and Palm, then some room on the second floor of Old Union. I almost called it quits, almost deciding that maybe this was a sign that I shouldn’t join The Daily. I persevered, though, and a few minutes later I found the two-story building on Panama Mall.

Not giving up during those few minutes was the best decision I’ve made at Stanford. It’s difficult to comprehend how my journey at The Daily started three years ago, when I was crammed into the newsroom upstairs with 106 other freshmen at Daily 101X, and it’s even harder to comprehend how The Daily eventually became my home. In my time at The Daily, I’ve written, edited, interviewed, listened and talked. But most importantly, I’ve learned.

I’ve learned from David, whose dedication to covering — or living, more accurately — softball is incomparable. I’ve learned from Winston, who avidly talks about The Daily’s future at all times and all places, but especially downstairs at the office. I’ve learned from Jana, who I’m convinced is one of the brightest minds to walk through The Daily’s doors and will undoubtedly do us proud as Volume 246 editor in chief. I’ve learned from Catherine and Do, who on top of putting in 40 hours per week as managing editors, take 20-plus units each quarter and run on at most two hours of sleep each day. I’ve learned from Joey and Sam, who both took me along the greatest adventure of my life while still managing not to leave the office — also known as writing “Rags to Roses: The Rise of Stanford Football.” And I’ve learned from my good friend and Volume 244 Editor in Chief Ed, who taught me that working at The Daily is much more than putting out a paper every day.

So thank you, Stanford Daily.

Before I pass the baton off to Jana, I have a few parting words on one last lesson that I’ve learned through the Daily lens.

I believe that our student body cares about the Stanford community greatly, but too often we’re late and too often we’re afraid to admit that we’re at least partially responsible for the community’s problems. As Ed recognized the other day, Stanford students sometimes point fingers at the University administration without understanding the full context surrounding an issue or without realizing that they themselves could’ve done better. We’re not very good at admitting our own mistakes.

We shouldn’t blame R&DE for Ike’s leaving just because R&DE is a convenient scapegoat after last year’s Suites protests. Arguing that the University failed to accurately assess students’ wants is one matter, but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions that R&DE had any wrongdoing.

We shouldn’t ask administrators to admit and fix their mistakes while not admitting and fixing ours first. Hundreds of students converged at White Plaza last week to stand with Leah and demand changes to Stanford’s sexual assault policies — it was admirable and important that they did. Many of the student-voiced criticisms in the widely distributed emails and at the rally were focused on the failure of the Alternative Review Process (ARP) in adjudicating sexual assault cases. But how many students thought to play an active role when changes to the ARP were under discussion just two years ago? Shouldn’t the student body be at least partially responsible since those changes to the ARP — the same changes that students are now criticizing — had to be passed by the ASSU Senate and Graduate Student Council, which hold open meetings that all students are allowed to attend, before they could be added to the Office of Judicial Affairs charter?

The ASSU’s review of the proposed amendments to the ARP began before October 2012, and the Faculty Senate didn’t pass the revisions until May 2013. The student body had seven months to suggest further changes, but it chose not to.

The student body can do better.

It’s true that sometimes the administration is to be blamed for doing too little, but we as students can also be at fault for not taking action until it’s far too late. Caring about your community isn’t just about signing petitions or rallying at White Plaza when you feel the administration has wronged you. Caring about your community is really about taking part in discussions on important issues before those problems spin out of control. We, the Stanford community, should be proactive, not reactive.

The Daily has a commitment to serve the Stanford community, but so do you readers. I ask that when you read our stories in the future — whether it’s Stanford football shutting down Oregon or the University divesting from coal mining companies — don’t just read. Comment on The Daily’s articles, adopt an open mind and share your thoughts with your peers, because The Daily can only serve you if you want to be served.

As always, thanks for reading.


George Chen ’15

President and Editor in Chief

Volume CCXLV


Contact George Chen at gchen15 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

George Chen is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily who writes football, football and more football. Previously he worked at The Daily as the President and Editor in Chief, Executive Editor, Managing Editor of Sports, the football beat reporter and a sports desk editor. George also co-authored The Daily's recent book documenting the rise of Stanford football, "Rags to Roses." He is a senior from Painted Post, NY majoring in Biology. To contact him, please email at [email protected].

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