Jason Willick ’15 created the Stanford Political Journal last spring after noticing an absence of a forum for political discussion on campus. The Daily sat down with him for an interview about his decision to start this new group.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): Can you talk to me a bit about the process of starting this journal?
Jason Willick (JW): I transferred from UC Berkeley at the end of my sophomore year, and I got here as a junior and saw that there was no political magazine or publication on campus. I had written a column at the Daily Cal and with The Stanford Daily for a while but I thought that it would be good for Stanford to have a magazine devoted to political commentary like those that exist at Berkeley, Yale, Princeton and Duke, other peer institutions. To me, the fact that this type of magazine works at other institutions means that it would probably work at Stanford too. Plus, I was eager to have an outlet to write for again.
So at the end of last spring, I got some people together. For now we’re only online but we hope to print someday, and we’re looking forward to recruiting more people.
We’re trying to be nonpartisan, which doesn’t mean that people don’t have opinions or aren’t partisan on the magazine, but that we don’t have an editorial line that we take or a political position, but rather right and left and everywhere in between. We’re trying to be modeled after magazines like The Atlantic, with an array of views, but not ideological.
TSD: Who else is involved?
I started out recruiting some people I knew already, but we also sent out emails to the political science, international relations and public policy mailing lists. We did an interview process in the spring to get our staff of about 15 or so. We hope that we’re going to reach more people after the activities fair and now that we’re online.
TSD: Though the journal is still new, can you tell me what the reception has been like on campus?
JW: All of the reception that I’ve gotten has been really positive. People think the website has been really good. Everyone who’s communicated with me has liked what he or she has seen. We haven’t reached as many people as I hope to [reach]. The 10 articles that we’ve published right now I think are all very well written and people seem to think so too. I‘ve gotten some suggestions, like things to write about, logos and so on. But all the comments about what’s been written so far have been good.
TSD: Where do you see it heading in the future?
I think the real test of my leadership of the journal this year is whether it’s still around next year or in five years. I don’t want it to be something that exists now just for a quarter or for a year. I plan on it becoming an important institution on campus that is an important forum for talking about politics. I certainly hope it sticks around and I have every reason to think it will. We had a lot of interest in the spring and I think we’ll get a lot more. I think there’s a niche on campus for this kind of publication and I’m hopeful that it’ll stick around for the next few years.
TSD: What influence do you hope for it to have on the Stanford community and the community at large?
I think Stanford is not as politically engaged as other campuses are. I think students know a lot about politics if you talk to them but I don’t think there’s as much debate about politics or campus politics. I hope that the journal helps to elevate the politics to a more important place in the campus dialogue. I hope it makes people more interested, to think about politics, social issues and politics on campus. I just hope to have a more vigorous political atmosphere than we do now.