Rename Stanford (Rylie)

Big news! It turns out I have a long-lost twin.

Her name is Rylie and we’ve recently reconnected. As fate has it, she grew up in Portland, Maine, and is currently attending Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado (UCLA).

She writes in her spare time as well, though doesn’t have anywhere to publish. As a result, we decided she would be a guest blogger here. All her posts will be tagged “Rylie” and there should be some mention of her authorship in the title.

She’ll make the blog better because, as you will see, her interests differ from mine. Going forward, expect this blog to cover more topics from diverse perspectives.

Enjoy her first post.

A proposal to rename Stanford University.

In January 1862, Leland Stanford, then governor of California, stood in front of the state legislature and said the following:

To my mind it is clear, that the settlement among us of an inferior race is to be discouraged by every legitimate means. Asia, with her numberless millions, sends to our shores the dregs of her population. Large numbers of this class are already here; and, unless we do something early to check their immigration, the question, which of the two tides of immigration, meeting upon the shores of the Pacific, shall be turned back, will be forced upon our consideration, when far more difficult than now of disposal. There can be no doubt but that the presence among us of numbers of degraded and distinct people must exercise a deleterious influence upon the superior race, and to a certain extent, repel desirable immigration

Stanford was a bigot, and his words should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. There is no room for hateful speech in a society that prides itself on tolerance, diversity, and justice. Stanford’s remarks reveal deep flaws within his character and thought that would be inexcusable today, and as we’re coming to believe, were inexcusable then. Unfortunately, this revelation taints the entirety of Stanford’s legacy. Every scientific advancement he commissioned, every crusty institution he created, was built on a foundation of oppressive prejudice and should be discarded. It is up to us to cancel him posthumously and wipe his existence from the history books. That will show him.

The first step towards this absolute and morally irreproachable goal is to rename the institution that bears his name: Stanford University. It is ignorant and hypocritical to attach power and prestige to a name that once belonged to a bona-fide racist and outright capitalist. Complicity in calling Stanford University “Stanford” is complicity in the face of systems and structural factors that have marginalized communities of color. It’s impossible —utterly inconceivable— to use the same sound to refer to Leland Stanford and a university without espousing the entirety of the former’s political ideology. This is why Stanford University must be renamed.

Knowing Stanford was a racist who believed a marginalized group was inferior to whites makes people feel unsafe and attacked. It’s true Stanford is dead and all of the racists of his time died with him, but that’s not enough. As long as his name is uttered in any nonnegative context, it constitutes an assault on minorities and people of color. In the same way we must condone Aristotle’s view that women are inferior if we want to consider his unrelated views on logic, we must hold racist beliefs and attitudes if we are to seriously consider any single aspect of the Stanford legacy. This sound commitment is an infallible guard against racist thought. As we all know, ideas and institutions are only as good as the political ideology of their sources.

“But Rylie,” one might unreasonably ask, “Stanford isn’t even named for Leland the capitalist bigot. It was named for his son, Leland Stanford Jr. who died of typhoid at 15. Leland Sr. established the university as a grieving father wishing to honor his son.” Anyone can see this objection relies on two untenable concepts that have been used to justify marginalization and oppression for centuries. First, naming your son after yourself is the ultimate expression of narcissistic, patriarchal, insecure, toxic masculinity. In this act, Leland Sr. has symbolically transferred male power and privilege between generations, reinforcing existing oppressive structures and setting norms for his son’s behavior. For this reason, Leland Jr. has full culpability for his father’s crimes, and no university should be named after him, either. Absolving children of their father’s transgressions ignores the perverse effects of patriarchy, and allows historical crimes to go unpunished.

Second, there are no honorable deeds under capitalism. Leland Sr.’s decision to create a university in memory of his son was only possible under an exploitive system where people of color suffered for the enrichment of white males. His fortune was stained by the blood of the oppressed, meaning any act making use of it —besides full-blown redistribution— is incapable of withstanding moral scrutiny. Dissociating actions from the circumstances that enabled them is a crime in itself. We must consider Stanford’s wealth within the broader global-historical context of oppression, injustice, and exploitive capitalism. Praising one deed within the system is equivalent to approving every aspect of it.

Until the University is renamed, I call on all clear-thinking individuals to boycott interactions with it. Students should not apply to Stanford, enroll, log into their zoom classes. What’s more, we should refrain from interacting with Stanford affiliates until they have signed a pledge dedicating themselves to our cause. We are on the cusp of a social revolution, and this is an unambiguous step in the right direction.

“Taxing Encounter”

I knew of a woman, ambitious and factual.

“Tell me,” she said, “how do I acquire the most capital?”

“Ah,” said her friend. “Work for Juul! Gen Z makes the most lucrative customer pool.”

“No,” said another. “Go into finance. Sell mortgages to the masses, any credit rating will pass!”

A passerby interjected. “Here!” he shouted, “work for a non-profit — your morals will never be doubted”

The woman’s friends laughed, feeling invincible, “What a silly man” they said, “leading you towards a life without principal.”

Inspired by JHU HC ‘54

“Middle Class College Student Shocked at the Horrors of a Desk Job” (Satire)

DENVER — After a recent workday as a paid summer marketing intern at a local software start-up, Jeremy Mallow realized office life wasn’t for him.

“When I was in high school, my parents didn’t let me get a job. They told me to focus on my schoolwork.” Mallow explained.

Jeremy, having read numerous business books about “passion” and “entrepreneurship” thought the drudgery of work had been left in the 19th century owing to the introduction of open office plans, cool start-up wall art, and conference rooms named after sci-fi characters.

“It turns out having a 2-hour meeting on deploying cloud-based scalable enterprise software solutions in ‘Chewbacca’ isn’t very fun,” Jeremy adds.

Mallow’s co-intern in the sales department, Jessica Gonzales, has a similar take. “I’ve spent so much time in Salesforce I caught myself mentally converting the cute cashier at Grassa to a Sales Accepted Lead from a Market Qualified Lead after he said hi to me. If his Pardot score jumps any more, a Sales Development Rep will give him a call so we can move him down the marketing funnel and close on an opportunity won.”

Friends of Mallow report that since taking the internship, Jeremy has grown increasingly depressed. “He’s been a bit off lately,” says Mallow’s close friend, Ryan. “He used to enjoy books and having spirited conversations with us. Now all he does is talk about how Silicon Valley culture is a form of social control, and how the ‘Dilbert’ comic strip is comparable to scripture.”

Yet, Jeremy seems grateful about the entire ordeal. “I understand it now. After working 8-hour days at a desk staring at a screen, I finally get it. I can see why working professionals are so emotionally distant, how divorces start, why so many adults have back pain, why there’s such a large market for self-help books, and why Elon Musk probably weeps himself to sleep every night.”

Mr. and Mrs. Mallow knew this would happen all along. “We were trying to preserve the fragile viscera of his soul by allowing him to cultivate interests and social relationships during the summers,” says Heather Mallow. “Then, we pulled the one-two punch and forced him to work a desk job this summer with no time for anything else. Welcome to the real world, Jeremy!”  

Meanwhile, Pedro Gonzales, Jessica’s 26-year-old cousin, had just finished his 14-hour shift gutting salmon in the canneries outside of Anchorage, Alaska. “Eh, it’s an O.K. gig. Puts food on the table, no?”