My opinion piece “Cars for freshmen in the Stanford bubble” created much discussion, including a substantial amount of criticism, in the comments of The Daily and on the Stanford meme page. I am writing this as a response because I hear what the community is saying.
I see how my article came across as insensitive or elitist. My intention was never to make this about privilege, but I understand now how talking about cars is necessarily talking about privilege.
Many people thought I was arguing for cars on campus, but my intention was rather to argue that since freshmen can’t have cars on campus, public transportation or campus resources should be improved. I’ve used the Marguerite and biked to downtown Palo Alto, and I’ve also used on campus resources like Cardinal Nights and Munger Market. But all of these services and options come with their own limits and restrictions that disproportionately affect freshmen.
I erred by focusing on freshmen. The limitations of public transportation and campus services don’t just disproportionately affect freshmen, they disproportionately affect anyone who doesn’t have a car on campus, whatever the reason for that may be. Many upperclassmen I know seem to always be sharing cars and giving each other rides, and therefore seemed to me less affected by Stanford’s transportation options. I apologize for focusing on freshmen when many people are impacted by transportation obstacles their entire time at Stanford, not just their freshman year.
My mention of $150 in Uber spending also struck many as tone-deaf, especially as it implied that I spend $150 in Uber every week. But as someone who typically doesn’t use Uber at all, the pain in having to rack up $150 the past week just in getting to and from off-campus obligations was in fact an impetus for me to write the article. It was a stretch for me to pay that bill — however, I realize that just being able to pay the bill puts me in a position of great privilege. My goal was in part to advocate for a better and more affordable system of transport at Stanford, but I chose my example without the proper sensitivity, and I apologize for that.
One commenter mentioned that they hoped this would serve as a learning opportunity, and it certainly has. I still stand by my opinion that Stanford should improve student public transportation, and that campus could have more accessible resources than it does. However, I see now how my framing was poor, and how I could come off as the “poor little rich girl” so many readers seemed to hate. I apologize for my insensitivity, and I hope I addressed the main concerns brought up about my original article. I never meant to sound elitist, and I truly hope that campus life can improve for all members of the Stanford community. Thank you to all of my peers who provided me with honest, respectful feedback on the original article.
Contact Kirsten Mettler at kmettler ‘at’ stanford.edu.