Letter from the magazine editor: aftershocks

Opinion by Grace Carroll
April 29, 2022, 10:46 p.m.

Dear reader,

Our campus was built by earthquakes. Palo Alto is flanked by the San Andreas fault to the west and the Hayward fault to the east. In 1906, and then again in 1989, the ground under Stanford’s campus was rearranged. Two people died. Main Quad buildings shifted on their foundations. Entire library collections were ruined. Statues fell headfirst through the pavement.

But afterward — once the shaking stopped — Stanford evolved. The proximity of the disasters made it impossible not to. The 1906 quake spurred immense research efforts in engineering and geology, setting up the University to be a global leader in both fields today. Students mobilized to provide disaster relief in the destroyed cities of San Francisco and San Jose. After 1989, iconic campus landmarks — the Bing Wing, Memorial Church, the Cantor Arts Center — were rebuilt with the integrity necessary to withstand the next crisis. In 2001, the artist Andy Goldsworthy reconfigured 128 tons of sandstone — debris from the destruction 10 years earlier — into a river-like sculpture, buried in the earth behind Palm Drive.

There is a lot of debris in our world right now. The past year has been marked by tragedies of all scales, from the global — with the pandemic’s continued toll and the heart-wrenching destruction of war in Ukraine — to the specific, with the recent loss of members of our community.

The stories in the issue ask the question: how will we evolve this time?

Grind editor Matthew Turk ’24 breaks down the science behind the Marriage Pact, and examines how a generation has come to embrace finding connection via algorithms. Equity Project Director Sarina Deb ’23 gets candid with Stanford students about how the pandemic alleviated or exacerbated their ongoing mental health battles. Staff writer Seamus Allen ’25 follows a Stanford student from her sorority house to the front lines of the Russian invasion. News desk editor Carolyn Stein ’23 examines the past and future of humanities education at Stanford, particularly how Stanford’s Structured Liberal Education program emerged during the Vietnam War era from a campus charged with political debate and dissent. Finally, opinions desk editor Joyce Chen ’25 traces how Stanford’s undergraduate studies came to be dominated by computer science, and questions the implications of an academic culture that favors prestige over passion.

Thank you for reading –

Grace Carroll ’23

Grace Carroll is the Vol. 261 magazine editor. She was previously a news desk editor. Contact her at gcarroll 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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