Life in the Dorms

What life looks like in a freshman dorm at 3 AM.

I just ran across a really interesting article about life in the Stanford dorms from the perspective of a faculty member who’s been living in Donner House for 16 years.

One excerpt on the late-night scene: By day, freshmen manage the ins and outs of academic and residential life; they are dedicated students, loyal friends, committed musicians, gifted athletes, devoted community volunteers. But an RF soon learns that this everyday world is to some extent a concession on their part: theyre generally very nice people and bear us no particular grudges. Theyll play our detail- and schedule-laden game if thats what we really want. But when the adult world puts on its bathrobe and gets ready to turn in, another reality bubbles up in the hallways and lounges.

Late at night, when the everyday has lost its grip, convention, habit and expectation fall away in a general liberation from the demands of the clock. There is no etiquette for pajamaed encounters over Proust, MP3s, the Buddha, the Band. There are no courtesies between two students with toothbrushes in hand and something on their minds. During these clockless nights, students begin to find and educate themselves. The conversations are not always tony ones on religion or philosophy; students also mix it up on the design of the dorm T-shirt, the no-car policy for frosh, the virtues of Willy Wonka, the difference between mankind and humanity. And these discussions take place in the nontraditional space of no perceptible time at all.

The late-night community students seem to create automatically is an important, perhaps even vital, rite of passage from the world of inherited ideas to the world of real thought. In this nocturnal place of chaotic challenge and revelation, new worlds can be contemplated, along with the latest crush. And it was an invitation to this conversation that I refused when I reminded Brian of the time.

Except in the classroom, most of us at the University have little to do with undergraduate life. When we do become involved, we are often representing the Universitys authority to its most insistentand sometimes troublesomestudents. As a resident fellow, Ive had my share of difficult discussions. It falls to the RF, for instance, to tell a student that, delightful person that he is, hes an ugly drunk. Or, as the caretaker of the whole community, an RF will have the unpleasant task of letting a few students know that their particular brand of hilaritysexist, homophobic, or just plain loud or smellyis a pain in the collective tush. I remember once having to remind a group of young men that when our facilities supervisor (a wonderful woman who took virtually every other thing about dorm life in stride) was in the mens bathroom, they needed to refrain from using the urinals. And I remember rather twitchily seeing the students out, carefully shutting my door and collapsing in laughterat the sheer ridiculousness of having to remind smart young people of such a normal courtesy; at the very real importance of it; and finally, at the fact that no one had ever told me Id have such a conversation in my own home.

Stanford Law Prof Tries to Rein in Copyright Laws

Stanford prof tries to lessen the duration of out-of-control copyright extensions.

Lawrence Lessing, Stanford law prof, will be arguing Eldred vs Ashcroft before the Supreme Court, asking the justices (four of whom are Stanford alumni) to lessen the duration of copyright protection.

[note–edited for usage (thanks to Andrew for catching a homonym error!)]

Today’s Students

Beloit College’s 2006 College Mindset List: This year’s entering students have grown up in a country where the Presidents have all been Southerners, and in a world with AIDS and without apartheid. Saturns have always been on the street, the Fox Network has always been on television, and prom dresses have always come in basic black. The evil empire is not earth-bound, the drug “ecstacy” has always been available, and with the breakup of AT & T, nobody has been able to comprehend a phone bill.

Beloit College has released its 2006 college mindset list.

From the intro: This year’s entering students have grown up in a country where the Presidents have all been Southerners, and in a world with AIDS and without apartheid. Saturns have always been on the street, the Fox Network has always been on television, and prom dresses have always come in basic black. The evil empire is not earth-bound, the drug “ecstacy” has always been available, and with the breakup of AT & T, nobody has been able to comprehend a phone bill.

Some of the more humorous items:
11. Barbie has always had a job.
14. A “Hair Band” is some sort of fashion accessory.
15. George Foreman has always been a barbecue grill salesman.
21. The United States has always been trying to put nuclear waste in Nevada.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my mission field!

Faithfulness in Small, Smelly Things

I couldn’t help but laugh when I ran across this news article. I quote:

Counting toilet roll sheets proved a success for a vigilant British worker who won his employer thousands of pounds in compensation after he discovered that some rolls were not as long as they should be.

Turns out the rolls were less than 2/3 the size they were advertised to be. When you use 40,000 rolls a year that adds up quickly! In this case, it added up to nearly $30,000.

It put me in mind of Jesus’ parable of the shrewd manager, which he goes on to explain in Luke 16.10-12: “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s money, why should you be trusted with money of your own?”

It’s great to be loved!

A creative way to bless pastors.

Paula and I have been out of town the last three days, and it was great!

The Nor Cal / Nevada District hosted a golf tournament.

No–we didn’t play. We did something much, much better.

We drove around in a golf cart all day both days and handed out free ice-cold drinks to parched pastors! The temperature on the first day was around 102 F and set a new record for the area, which meant that the golfers were VERY happy to see us. There were around 80 golfers, and we gave away around 400 drinks over the two days of the tournament.

It was a great way to bless the pastors, and it was also a great way to build some name recognition for Stanford Chi Alpha among this key constituency. It was also a great way to become the most loved people on the golf course!

Stanford: A Wellspring of Innovation

Stanford University changes the economy of the whole world!

Yet another way Stanford is changing the world: here’s a list of companies founded by members of the Stanford community. Among them:

Hewlett-Packard
Cisco Systems
Silicon Graphics
Sun Microsystems
Electronic Arts
Yahoo!
EBay
Nvidia

Turns out that 40% of the revenue in Silicon Valley is generated by companies that emerged from Stanford, and the employees earned around 6.5 billion dollars in 1999. Wow!

By the way, that 6.5 billion dollars would work out to $650 million dollars in tithes. For comparison’s sake, the Assemblies of God gave $350 million in 2001.