Until next time Stanford

April 15, 2024, 11:26 p.m.

I am currently in the confusing and draining situation of simultaneously being placed on academic suspension and taking the steps necessary to take a Leave of Absence. Confusingly, the former takes precedence. This has made my final days on campus — for now, at least — one of the greatest inflection points in my entire life.

Throw a stone at something going on in my life and you’ll likely hit something that I have to work on. 

Before all of this happened, largely, but not entirely, because of my own mistakes and shortcomings as an undergraduate, I dreamt about many directions for my time at Stanford. I dreamt that I would become the Undergraduate Senate’s representative to the Faculty Senate or a resident assistant at West Florence Moore — the dorm I chose to live in for three straight years. I dreamt of one day serving as the student at-large member on The Stanford Daily’s board. I even dreamt that I would put an articles I co-wrote into the class of 2024 time capsule.

I grew excited about senior formal outfits and blushed over who I hoped to ask to the dance.

In all seriousness, those dreams are gone (reduced to atoms, even). I was accepted into Stanford in 2020 and will now, at the earliest, graduate by spring 2026. To say that things have not gone as planned would be the understatement of the century. I no longer count the days to Stanford milestones and celebrations. I simply don’t feel the same attachment and excitement.

I simply have no idea what happens next.

I used to harbor such profound hate for myself over the disruptions to my academic path and how, ultimately, I will never see some people again. Don’t get me wrong, those feelings are still very much there with me. However, I have started to lose a little less sleep over all of this. As hard as things are and will continue to be, I understand now that Stanford won’t be going away. 

This confusing storm of overlapping messes has made me especially appreciative of the fact that I live less than an hour north of campus (Pacifica #1, baby). In that sense, the transition back to campus won’t be as hard as it otherwise could be.

At the same time, some students thrive from a sense of continuity and community through devoting time at Stanford to the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) or organizations like The Daily. It’s not as if, before my return next winter (hopefully), everyone that I currently know will leave Stanford.

As much as I wish that I did not need to take this break from Stanford in the first place, I appreciate the fact that I can take it now.

I have a ways to go to be a better student, friend, son, brother and human. It has almost been too easy to let Stanford get in the way of recognizing the truly important people in my life. A lot of important relationships have honestly grown more distant lately. Even my relationship to my own hometown, where I hope to serve in elected office sometime in the future, feels less real over the years. I certainly have my work cut out for me for becoming a better person over this break.

When I return to Stanford, I hope I come back as the kind of person that truly lives up to the time someone told me that I would have made a great RA. As rocky a process as it has been throughout the public policy major, I look forward to hitting the ground running again and possibly even applying for the coterminal masters. It would be awesome to find the capacity to run for UGS or serve in a higher position at The Daily, which has truly felt like my home on campus.

I understand now that, with the many times I’ve messed up and broken down this quarter alone, this could shape up to be a one-of-a-kind comeback for me. What I realize now is that, with the extra time how much I’ve learned throughout my existential experiences with the Stanford bureaucracy, I can start anew.

I can approach classes, friendships, professional opportunities, romantic opportunities and anything else that life may throw at me with some much needed clarity. As much as I’ve missed out on and as much as I’ve felt broken during my time as a Stanford student, I look forward to my next time at Stanford.

Sebastian Strawser ‘26 is an Opinions contributor. He also writes for Humor and The Grind. His interests include political philosophy, capybaras and Filipino food. Contact Sebastian at sstrawser 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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