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Honoring the father of sleep science.

William Dement, a founder of the field of sleep medicine and beloved longtime professor of Stanford’s Sleep and Dreams course, died on June 17 at the age of 91. Dement dedicated his career to establishing sleep medicine as a clinical field and raising awareness about the critical importance of optimal sleep and the dangers of sleep deprivation to health, safety and performance. His early research established the phases of the human sleep cycle and identified the physiological basis of dreams. He founded the world’s first sleep disorders center at Stanford in 1970, and his efforts with policymakers led to legislation that established the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and increased National Institutes of Health funding for sleep.

Tens of thousands of students took Sleep and Dreams with Dement. He is perhaps best remembered by undergrads for his motto “drowsiness is red alert.” During class, nappers not seated in the “dozing section” would be roused by a squirt from a water gun and required to recite the mantra. “The first presentation of Sleep and Dreams was winter quarter 1971. To my utter amazement, approximately 600 undergraduates registered, and no classroom of that size was available,” Dement told STANFORD Magazine in 2009. “My friend Davie Napier, the dean of the chapel, allowed me to teach Sleep and Dreams in Memorial Church. I delivered only one lecture from the pulpit. It seemed a bit blasphemous since I am not a preacher.”


Until we meet again, IRL.

More than 14,000 members of the Stanford community tuned in for a live-streamed virtual celebration of the approximately 1,700 bachelor’s degrees, 2,400 master’s degrees and 1,100 doctoral degrees awarded to 2020 grads. Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne spoke to graduates’ resilience, urging them to lean on their Stanford friendships for support and to apply their knowledge and skills toward creating change in the world. “Real change requires the hard and dedicated work of all of us, and it’s clear more than ever how much we need your talents, your creativity and your commitment to improving our world if we’re going to find solutions to the serious challenges we face.”

In STANFORD magazine, Melina Walling and Emma Abdullah, both ’20, shared their thoughts about their abrupt departures from campus, and graduates spoke about what the postponement of traditional Commencement has meant to them and their families.


It’s a Pride moment.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in a 6–3 vote that the provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The New Yorker quoted Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan, who argued on behalf of the two gay men in the suit last October, explaining why discrimination because of sex applies to sexual orientation. “Two employees who come in, both of whom tell you they married their partner, Bill, last weekend. When you fire the male employee who married Bill, and you give the female employee who married Bill a couple of days off, so she can celebrate the joyous event, that’s discrimination because of sex.”

The ruling is a landmark one for LGBTQ rights; until last week, workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people was legal in more than half of U.S. states. “This is an historic ruling, up there with some of the other SCOTUS decisions like Brown [v. Board of Education], Griggs v. Duke Power on testing and educational requirements, and same-sex marriage. Like those decisions, clearly this is one that will last generations and one for the history books,” said Stanford Law School professor William Gould, a labor and discrimination law scholar.


Standing together.

Black participants assembled in a socially distanced arrangement in front of Memorial Church

On June 5, documentary film graduate student Adrian Burrell gathered just over 100 of the students remaining on campus and community members on the Quad for a solidarity ceremony. Black participants assembled in a socially distanced arrangement in front of Memorial Church to demonstrate unity, while allies lined the edge of the Quad. The event was one of several on campus, from a march to moments of silence, protesting police violence and systemic racism. The Stanford Alumni Association has compiled a list of resources on the university’s response and scholarship pertaining to diversity, equity, inclusion and access.

Photo credit: Nikk La


It’s feeling like time for a scene change.

In a study that could help explain why some people have coped with the lockdown better than others, researchers examined the relationship between people’s personalities and where they spend their time, and found that each influences the other. “We found that when people spend time in social places, they tend to be more open-minded, extroverted, agreeable, conscientious and less anxious compared to when they spend time at home,” Gabriella Harari, a co-author of the study, told Stanford News Service. One key takeaway is that simply being somewhere else could be a way to change your psychological experience. If you’re feeling anxious or moody at home, for example, you might be able to improve your mood by spending time in a more social space—while taking precautions to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.


But wait, there’s more.

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the manner in which the Department of Homeland Security sought to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) violated the law. Stanford Law School’s Jayashri Srikantiah and Lisa Weissman-Ward talk about the case and the decision.

Can the government take any profits from former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book? Hoover Institution senior fellow Jack Goldsmith co-authored a piece in Lawfare dissecting the case.

Filmmaker Tom Shepard, ’91, followed four LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers who were the targets of death threats, harassment and discrimination in their home countries. The result is the documentary Unsettled, which airs on PBS this month. And premiering June 25 at Frameline, San Francisco’s LGBTQ film festival (which will take place virtually this year), is CC Dances the Go-Go, a short film by Erin C. Buckley, ’04, starring Rebecca Whitehurst, ’03.

In a Zoom meeting with students and alumni, Julián Castro, ’96, Jeff Raikes, ’80, and Amanda Renteria, ’96, shared advice on public service careers.

History professor Allyson Hobbs, director of African and African American studies, writes in the New Yorker about images of racial violence and their power to stir empathy and galvanize activism.

“Even if this requires a hanging bulb and high decibels, it’s still super interesting. And it’s still just the first time this has been shown to be possible. Attacks only get better, and future research will only improve this over time.” Cryptography professor Dan Boneh’s encouraging words in Wired about the “lamphone,” a nascent technology that enables eavesdropping by spying on a light bulb’s vibrations.

The Stanford Board of Trustees approved a high-level budget plan for 2020–21, which includes steps to address the expected COVID-19-related shortfall and the need to increase student financial aid support, reports Stanford News Service. The Board rejected a proposal to  divest completely from publicly traded oil and natural gas companies (those holdings are down 90 percent from 2011) but did commit to transitioning to at least net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in Stanford’s operations and investments by 2050.


Summer Moore Batte, ’99, is the editor of Stanfordmag.org. Email her at summerm@stanford.edu.

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