Letter from the Editors: Bringing the arts into the spotlight in Intermission

Dec. 6, 2023, 1:14 a.m.

Some say the unifying Stanford experience is CS 106A, a class that many will have taken during their student career. We say that it is the arts. 

A look at class enrollment data reveals the arts’ central position in student life. The Department of Music saw a total of 1,573 enrollments during this fall quarter, ranking seventh among undergraduate departments in terms of enrollment. Arts-leaning divisions combined — namely music, art history, dance, art studies, film and theater and performance studies — have 3,310 enrollments, surpassing all departments and divisions besides computer science.

The numbers tell us that most of us have been in an arts class, regardless of our field of study. We’d venture to say that almost all of us have created or consumed student art in some form or another — be it an a cappella show, a theater production or that student band concert at The Arbor you walked by on a Friday night.

Whether we realize it or not, the arts shape how we interact with others on campus. They offer us respite from career pressures, imposter syndrome and those CS problem sets that seem to absorb every waking hour. (In fact, CS problem sets even inspired a student-written theater show last year, inviting audiences to have a good laugh while reflecting on the role of technology in campus life.)

The arts give us a space to try for the sake of trying. They ask us to shoulder the looming possibility of failure while we experiment with methods of creative self-expression.

Simply check out some of Arts & Life’s past coverage to see for yourself. Last Friday’s “Breaking Ground” attracted 710 community members in celebration of 14 dance groups’ quarter-long work. Student organizers of On Call Café served 524 students over the first four hours of their opening night, creating a new space for students to simply be together. You may not even be aware of Stanford’s unofficial jugger team, which invites anyone from students to dining hall staff to join in weekly games reminiscent of capture the flag.

What is the overarching theme in these student performances, late-night get-togethers and club opportunities? It is that the arts and cultural events are crucial to creating a unique, safe space for us to relax, experiment and regroup as a student body.

Stanford would not be the community that it is without its artistic opportunities. And this is what we attempt to convey in this issue. “Intermission,” named after the weekly culture-centric newspaper that The Daily put out between 1989 and 2013, tries to bring the arts back to center stage. 

Departing from the original — which detailed campus goings-on, as well as personal stories and quirky advice columns — our “Intermission” special issue aims to spotlight hidden corners of campus arts and culture, those experiences that don’t make the headlines but scaffold our student experience. Insofar as an intermission is a pause, we want to inspire you to stop and notice the remarkable everyday creativity that surrounds us.

We especially hope to introduce you to some of the humans who are indispensable to making those essential experiences happen. They are your classmates and your professors; they are unsung heroes of campus music events, the educator behind Stanford’s beloved social dance classes, the costumed faces of Stanford Trees and so much more. We hope that you enjoy.

Linda Liu ’25 and Sofia Gonzalez-Rodriguez ’25 are volume 264 managing editors of the Arts & Life section.

Yuanlin "Linda" Liu ‘25 is the vol. 265 Academics Desk Editor and Magazine editor. She was previously Managing Editor of the Arts & Life section during vol. 263 and 264. Contact her at lliu 'at' stanforddaily.com.Contact The Daily’s Arts & Life section at arts ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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