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Black Lives Matter.

In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Provost Persis Drell addressed the campus community to condemn systemic issues of racism, inequity and injustice perpetrated against Black communities and noted Stanford’s plans to address equity, inclusion and racial justice on campus. Both Drell and President Marc Tessier-Lavigne addressed the topic in a June 2 town hall, and on June 5, more than 2,500 community members attended a virtual Vigil for Black Lives. Stanford’s Black Lives Matter website offers resources, support and education for the Stanford community.

Stanford historian and civil rights scholar Clayborne Carson spoke to Stanford News Service about what he has learned over a lifetime of protest and how today’s demonstrations differ from the civil rights activism he participated in as a student at UCLA in 1965. He cautions that movements need leaders who clearly articulate specific objectives. “What is the goal? Is it simply to express anger or is to achieve reform about police behavior? If it is to bring about reform, then what would that look like? It doesn’t have to be one charismatic spokesperson. It could be many leaders, but there needs to be people saying, ‘This is what we want’ and clearly articulating that,” he said. “The very strength of the Black Lives Matter movement is that it is decentralized and a lot of the protest is more spontaneous. But that’s also a weakness.”

Ronald Tyler, professor of law and director of Stanford Law’s Criminal Defense Clinic, and Suzanne Luban, clinical supervising attorney and lecturer in law, discussed the charges against the four officers involved in the death of George Floyd, police use of force, and suggestions for the way forward in a Q&A with Stanford Law School’s Sharon Driscoll. Explore the work of other Stanford scholars who are studying institutional racism, social change and how to create a more just society.

What we’re reading now.

This summer, we’re choosing books that uplift, inspire, broaden our perspective and increase our knowledge. Enter STANFORD magazine’s 2020 summer reading list, with 25 must-read titles recommended by faculty and STANFORD editors. Other lists to check out: British Vogue’s “Essential Anti-Racist Reading List,” which includes books by Jesmyn Ward, ’99, MA ’00, and former associate professor of law Michelle Alexander, JD ’92, and these recommendations by the staff of the Cantor Arts Center and the Anderson Collection.

The scoop on graduation and the upcoming school year.

Commencement from 1900 held in Building 120

Commencement hasn’t always been in June or in the stadium. (In 1900, shown above, it was held in what is now Building 120 in the Quad.) But graduating online? That’s new. While 2020 graduates and their families await an in-person Commencement at a later date, they will take part in a virtual celebration of graduates on June 14. Alumni are also invited to tune in. As for next year, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell laid out plans that include bringing half of undergrads to campus at a time in 2020–2021 for a four-quarter academic year; much of teaching for undergraduate programs will still be online. Graduate and professional schools are expected to be able to run at near-full capacity, though some instruction and research will be online.

Photo credit: Stanford University Archives

Expert ideas for pandemic problems.

The crisis posed by the novel coronavirus has shown us that we need more physician-scientists, according to a piece co-authored by P.J. Utz, MD ’91, associate dean for medical student research at the School of Medicine, in the Washington Post. Less than 1.5 percent of doctors have careers that combine patient care with biomedical research. That’s bad news for us because research by physician-scientists has led to some of the most important advances in medical history, including penicillin, chemotherapies and statins. To fill the thinning ranks, Utz and his colleagues say, we need to invest in a national service program to encourage the most promising medical students to develop research-based careers. “In return, these individuals would dedicate themselves to lifelong careers as physician-scientists. Like reservists, they will be available to serve in national crises. They will be mobilized in times of need to tackle unmet medical challenges.”

Opening the economy while many Americans are nervous about their health risk is problematic, writes Anat R. Admati, a finance and economics professor at the Graduate School of Business, in the Los Angeles Times. “Those who can afford to shelter will continue to protect themselves, while those in lower economic rungs will suffer the bulk of the hardships and the risk of infection. Recovery will be slow and halting, and the inequality of income, wealth and opportunities that was already high will only grow.” Instead, she says, we need to make it safer to resume activities by investing heavily in increased capacity to test more people—regularly testing everyone, regardless of symptoms—and isolating those who are infected.

To swim or not to swim.

Just how relaxed should you be about getting out this summer? “Some people are in a near-panic still, whereas others are completely blasé about it, and we need to find sort of a middle ground,” Tara Kirk Sell, ’04, MA ’05, a professor and risk-communication researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Atlantic. Assuming you’re taking precautions to protect those around you, she said, outdoor activities are less concerning than indoor ones. “It’s not the beach that’s a problem; it’s if people then decide to pack bars and restaurants when coming off the beach.” The water is probably OK too. “There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] is waterborne,” Stanford Health Care’s Dean Winslow told Vox. “It is diluted quite rapidly in large bodies of water, such as freshwater lakes or certainly the ocean.” And socially distanced swimming in a pool that’s been treated with chlorine? The risk is basically nil, he said.

But wait, there’s more.

“The road to healing must begin with respectful but honest and deep conversations, not judgments, about who we were, who we are and who we want to become.” Former U.S. Secretary of State and former Stanford provost Condoleezza Rice, who will become director of the Hoover Institution on September 1, in “This Moment Cries Out for Us to Confront Race in America,” an op-ed in the Washington Post.

When will the response be justice?” San Francisco 49er Richard Sherman, ’10, was among the Cardinal athletes and coaches who responded to the death of George Floyd. Athletics director Bernard Muir shared his thoughts in an open letter to the community.

“It reminded me of my early career experiences as a marriage counselor: When I would simply reflect neutrally what an argument was about, both parties appreciated it because it gave them a sense of being heard and understood, if not necessarily agreed with.” Psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor Keith Humphreys on how his nine-tweet thread about the political challenges of mounting a national testing, tracing and isolating program consumed a week of his life (and ultimately became an op-ed).

“. . . essentially, it makes you look at everything with fresh eyes.” Tina Seelig, PhD ’85, a faculty director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and an expert on creativity, gives an hour-long talk about how limited resources can spark innovation.

Zoom power users, take note: There’s a scientific explanation for why Zoom meetings are so existentially exhausting.

“Many scholars at Stanford have done extensive research on protests, police violence and the carceral state in the United States. As discussions surrounding these topics dominate the national discourse, we want to highlight this scholarship and offer readers a starting point into these growing bodies of knowledge.” The editors of the Stanford Daily created a list of resources for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

To My Residents, in Tumultuous Times: On May 24, as spring quarter drew to a close, Roble’s resident fellow Jeffrey Ball wrote this letter to the dorm’s approximately 300 residents.

Summer Moore Batte, ’99, is the editor of Email her at

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