The purpose of college is to learn. That’s the lesson of this story. Education. Growth. Progress. Go back and read this paragraph whenever you get upset at the following ones.
I spent the summer between frosh and sophomore years working up the guts to submit a column for The Daily. I dropped the sample I had re-re-re-re-revised in the metal basket outside the office and ran away as fast as I could. The opinion editors said they never asked an applicant for a second sample. They made an exception for me. My second try was good enough to get me off the waitlist and land me a Friday column.
A couple of months in, I was getting the public attention I had believed I deserved since I was 12. Then I handed in a column that my editor rejected.
I had a fuzzy understanding of journalism. I believed that an opinion column should represent my thoughts, unfettered by the restraints of my uptight bosses. This column was a response to the speech a student president delivered at frosh orientation, accusing us of white privilege. The column began “Hate. Hate. Hate. Anger. Anger. Anger. Salsa. Salsa. Salsa.” For my columnist photo, I donned a Carmen Miranda fruit hat. In addition to a fuzzy understanding of journalism, I had a fuzzy understanding of racism.
To fight for justice, I took my tale of being a political prisoner to The Stanford Review, the conservative weekly just upstairs from our office. They gave it the Fox News treatment on their front page.
The day their story came out, Brad Hayward ’92, the wise, calm, kind Daily editor in chief, whom I had not yet met, sat me down in his office, one of many such experiences I would have in my career. Brad explained that I was part of The Daily team now. And we dealt with our issues by talking to each other. He made me feel included, which is all I wanted, from back when I spent a year working the guts up to drop off my submission and run away.
Brad also taught me something about respect and honor. And he somehow did it without using the phrase “white supremacist.”
Joel Stein ’93, M.A. ’94 was a member of The Stanford Daily during his undergraduate career. He is currently a book author and has previously written for TIME, Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, among others.