It’s All Right Now
In September’s Postscript, Alison Ozawa Sanders, ’96, recounted how she slept through the first day of class and was sure it was a sign she didn’t belong at Stanford.
I got to my Econ 1 section 15 minutes early. I sat in the very middle of the first row—and promptly fell asleep. I woke up about 15 minutes into the class, having drooled. Very embarrassing.
Illustration: Marcellus Hall
I am sure that many of us who brought “different” personal qualifications to Stanford felt the same angst described by Alison Ozawa Sanders. As a freshman admittee off the waiting list, I learned during Orientation that my SAT score was probably 200 points below those of my classmates. Adequately chagrined, I tried hard, paid attention and never had any grade problems. There were times when I even excelled. The lesson is that standardized tests don’t measure determination and effort.
Fred Leeson, ’71
The Only Constant
A pair of stories in our September issue discussed changes being made to the undergraduate residential system as well as the first-year core curriculum.
Since graduating, I have never felt very connected to Stanford but I never understood why not. The article helped me understand the impact that the Draw had on my Stanford experience. Of my 12 quarters, I was in campus housing for only four. I was in a freshman dorm, and then through the Draw was in another dorm for one quarter before I went overseas my sophomore year. I was never able to get back into campus housing. The neighborhood concept is a great idea and would have made a big difference for me. Thanks for making the change.
Drew Currie, ’74
There was no common frosh curriculum for those of us arriving around 1970 and over the next decade or so, until the Western Culture curriculum was introduced in the 1980s. We were left to our own devices to choose how to broaden our minds—although not necessarily ending up with any “shared vocabulary and experience” other than what we happened to share with others along the way.
Kay Virginia Gustafson Webster, ’73, JD ’77
Agoura Hills, California
That such momentous changes in the Stanford experience are set forth in the somewhat offhand form of an alumni magazine leads me to call for a more detailed evolution and evaluation from the university. That such bold changes appear in part to stem from the constraints of the pandemic also leads me to believe that necessity is the mother of invention.
Leon G. Campbell, ’60, MA ’65
How sad to see that at Stanford the humanities have finally been thrown under the bus, what with the new freshman course called COLLEGE, an acronym for Civic, Liberal and Global Education. The very title, smacking as it does of duty and boredom, makes me cringe. Think of all the great writers and thinkers of the past whose ideas and imaginative fictions would literally open and transform the world of Stanford freshmen, given half a chance.
Sadie Dernham Patek Professor of Humanities, Emerita
Pacific Palisades, California
Equalizer or Enabler?
A September feature discussed the pros and cons of implementing a universal basic income.
Human beings get greater satisfaction from earning a reward than just being given that same reward. For decades, we have been designing human beings out of workplace environments. We need to begin designing human beings back into the workplace environment in a way that provides meaningful work and income adequate to provide a comfortable life.
Bill Nilli, ’54, MBA ’59
UBI seems to be an effort to achieve socialistic values without threatening free markets and private enterprise. Another concept that would complement that effort is a reduction in the standard workweek from five days or 40 hours to something like four days or 32 hours.
Richard Luhring, MS ’70
Socialism and economic freedom are incompatible. Sweden figured this out when it abandoned socialism and returned to capitalism. Political freedom requires economic freedom. We are losing both.
David Paslin, ’62
UBI would be better supported with a major addition: Require one to either have an income-earning job or participate in an activity that contributes to society.
Richard Park, ’58, MD ’62
Former Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs, ’12, MA ’12, and Stanford assistant professor Juliana Bidadanure propose that the federal government implement a UBI with the government issuing a monthly check not only to the poor, but to every person in America. That means 85 percent of the country’s population will receive trillions of dollars annually in government checks only to return much of the money at tax time. Why abandon the key components (i.e., a privately funded community-based approach) of Tubbs’s successful pilot? If the Stockton program brings lasting positive results, the coalition of other interested mayors can adopt his model. The rest of the country will notice, and even if a taxpayer-funded UBI never happens, Tubbs and other city leaders will have improved many lives.
Mark Van Brussel, ’73
The September issue included an excerpt from I Keep Trying to Catch His Eye, a memoir by Ivan Maisel, ’81, about the death of his son, Max.
Phew. A tough read but really well done.
Photo: Courtesy the Maisel Family
In September, the 1,000 Words photo depicted Alex Massialas, ’16, in a bronze-medal bout, accompanied by facts on Cardinal achievements at the Summer Games.
How wonderful to read about the success of Stanford athletes in Tokyo and the interesting statistics—and somehow the one male medal winner of 26 medal winners was featured in the accompanying photo. It is a dramatic image, and congratulations to Alex Massialas for his medal, but with 25 female athletes (many of whom won gold), it struck me that gender inequality shows up in subtle and pervasive ways.
Leslie Kleinheksel Coote, ’88
I find it incredibly ironic and not the least bit shameful that you featured a large photograph of Olympic fencer Alex Massialas and lauded his bronze medal in men’s team foil at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, when it was the varsity fencing program (on which Massialas fenced) that the Stanford athletics department tried so intently to cut.
Meagan Levitan, ’87
San Francisco, California
The September President’s Column outlined plans for a new school focused on sustainability.
Years ago, I was looking over the latest books on environmental science when I became aware of a man standing next to me. He looked at me and said, “There is only one problem—the human population.” The challenge for Stanford’s new school, at least for now, is going to be holding its aim on that rapidly moving target.
Edwin R. Lewis, ’56, Engr. ’60, PhD ’62
Bainbridge Island, Washington
We will not innovate or spend our way out of the climate crisis. Each of us will need to contribute toward conserving resources. The new Stanford school should focus on analysis of economic choices, such as whether electric cars truly are more environmentally friendly.
Stella Yang, MA ’88
In an interview for the September issue, senior Nick Hakes credited Navy Adm. William McRaven as the inspiration for one of his habits: “If you can’t do the small things right, you’re not going to do the big things right. That’s why every morning when I get up, I make my bed.”