Week 7 Updates: Decisive Action and Bold Leadership

Satire by , and

Over the preceding months, we have all received numerous email communications from Stanford leadership. In an effort to be of service to the Stanford community, we have summarized these emails below.


Attention valued Stanford community team member,

With the approaching end of the spring quarter, we understand that many of you need certainty to make plans for the coming weeks, months and years. In the spirit of providing as much certainty as possible, we wanted to write to you all and assure you that Stanford is.

In these challenging times, one thing stands firm: our commitment to our values to which we are committed and which we value so highly.

To the Stanford community, we want to say clearly that we are examining everything, and may or may not do anything or nothing at any time or nontime, and can neither confirm nor deny that anything in particular is more, less or equally likely than anything else (aka clinical equipoise for the medical students).

We recognize that decisions will need to be made shortly about living arrangements, classes and other critical matters for the fall quarter. We also affirm the need to consult all members and constituencies within our community to create plans that affirm and acknowledge everyone’s needs while also accepting that not everyone’s needs can be equally addressed or integrated into our plans (which again, may or may not exist as “plans” — what does “a plan” even mean? Seriously, we’re asking).

Making decisions in an uncertain environment will require principled leadership. We are still searching for such principles. On the one hand, we could equivocate, while on the other, we could go back and forth, but there is no need to decide between those paths right now.

It may be helpful to understand the range of options currently being considered, which include the following:

· Plans that have been proposed.

· Plans that were previously proposed and rejected.

· Plans that have not yet been proposed.

· Plans that were at one time known to humankind, but were subsequently lost to science.

· Plans that were shouted at us from the window of a fast-moving car, and we didn’t really hear that well, but sounded kinda good.

· Plans that were locked away in heretofore undiscovered Mayan tombs, but may later come to light in some sort of sandbag-swap scenario where a large boulder rolls after us ahhhHHH-

· Other plans.

Maybe these plans will involve a zany Benny Hill-esque scheme to rotate undergrads in and out of campus. Maybe classes will be exclusively held on the roof, but we are also reviewing proposals to hold classes in individual cement casings buried underground. Maybe we will dig a moat around Tresidder to keep the COVID out, I dunno. Maybe all tenured faculty members will be fired, their retirement accounts confiscated and the proceeds entrusted to the provost and select members of the Associated Workings of University Leadership (AWoUL) team for research use in reopened facilities in Las Vegas, should such facilities reopen or, indeed, exist. Maybe some kind of COVID-proof hats — is that anything? We’re blue-sky ideating here — and a big thank you to the d.school for its help making brainstorm maps that are unreadable to the human or alien eye.

We now turn to housing. We absolutely commit to providing housing for *everyone* who meets the following criteria: (1) all undergraduates over the age of 170; (2) all students with five or more immunocompromised pets; (3) people who ride those fat-tired electric bikes around a perfectly flat campus for some reason; and/or (4) anyone who has a last name that is on a campus building. Everyone else: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. We may end up just opening all the doors and windows in Escondido Village and letting nature run its course. The housing application window might currently be open, but it closes on the third Flursday of Smarch, a secret day and month that we just invented and refuse to reveal when it begins or ends.

As mentioned above, no particular plan is more likely than any other, and in fact no plans exist. But we are committed to transparent communication with the entire community. We would never attempt to conceal an important announcement by burying it within paragraphs of anodyne dross. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, who is currently burrowing beneath the Hoover Institution, we have known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns. We are thrilled to announce that we have had the theoretical physics department hard at work on a new category: the unknown known unknowns aka the academic calendar for the year 2020-21.

We further understand that it would be helpful if we included any of the few fragments of useful information we provide in short, bulleted points at the front or end of our emails. Instead, we have decided to sporadically sprinkle any nuggets of information throughout our long, rambling emails in ways that barely obey the rules of English grammar. Fall quarter classes will be canceled, but you’ll pay full tuition.

Please know that we know that many of you have questions. So do we. Namely, how did we get here? Where are we? Is this my beautiful wife? Where is the secret treasure map showing the 5G cell towers that are creating COVID? Does COVID fear fire? Even though our emails occasionally read like denials from an intelligence agency or letters written by hostages, know this: We stand ready to provide decisive leadership to the Stanford community at some undetermined point in the future, as long as everyone wants us to and there is total consensus as to what should be done prior to our involvement.

Editor’s Note: This article is purely satirical and fictitious. All attributions in this article are not genuine and this story should be read in the context of pure entertainment only.

Contact Thomas Miller at tmm ‘at’ stanford.edu, Tom Westphal ‘at’ tomwest ‘at’ stanford.edu and Quinn Veronica Walker at qvwalker ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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