By Tyson Holmes
While a university may also have many other functions, teaching will always remain foremost and central. Students—not next-generation research labs, not sprawling sport complexes, not more gleaming buildings of glass and steel—students are the heart of a university. That heart of Stanford University is suffering and suffering greatly. At its worst, Stanford University students are suffering hate crimes, burglary, sex offenses, suicidality, and deaths.
Shelter-in-place has only heightened students’ suffering. The returns on tuition has declined during shelter-in-place, as students face new pressures with tepid support from the University, including financial hardships at home, loss of summer internships and jobs, housing uncertainties, and growing challenges to mental health care. Further, Stanford University’s academic standards are high; and that is quite good; but, now, “Zoom University” adds a new set of challenges atop those high academic standards for students struggling to continue and excel in their education—an education, which they fully realize, will dramatically shape their futures and, perhaps, the futures of their families. Add to all this, during this pandemic, the specter of illness, severe illness, within students’ families.
Where, then, is the solution to this compounding suffering?
Clearly the University’s vast wealth, to which it clings, has not alleviated the suffering. Stanford Medicine, even with its new towering buildings, has not healed the community of students. The campus solves the most abstruse and complex and challenging problems in medicine and business and law and engineering and chemistry and physics and mathematics. Yes, for all of this, and despite all of this, this University has yet to solve the undeniably grand tragedy in our midst, at the heart of the University—students’ suffering.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. – Luke 12:48b
This University, engorged with research grant awards and industry partnerships and multiple campuses and a massive endowment and astronomical tuition and staggering intellectual resources, has, indeed, been given and entrusted with much—so intensely very, very, very much; and, yet, amidst all this, amidst these historically unmatched, unequaled, unparalleled blessings—yes, call them what they are, blessings—is a deepening and broadening and festering cancer within the very soul of the University.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12
Will this unabashedly self-congratulatory University heed this command? Will it place zealous pursuit of financial vigor above the well-being of its precious students?
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. – Matthew 6:24
Stanford University’s students are suffering. Which will Stanford University choose, God or money?
— Tyson Holmes
Senior research engineer, School of Medicine
All scripture quoted in this Letter was taken from this source.
Holy Bible, New International Version (Fully Revised). Barker, K.I. (General Editor); Stek, J.H., Wessel, W.W., Youngblood, R., Burdick, D.W. (Associate Editors). Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation.
The author apologies for this omission and any inconvenience caused.