Stanford parents have a reputation for asking hard questions.
PROVOST JOHN ETCHEMENDY’s Friday welcome address for Parents’ Weekend was no exception. During a brief, 15-minute talk, the provost updated them on university news. He also shared email exchanges with freshmen.
Then he opened the floor for questions.
Provost John Etchemendy
With the president on sabbatical, the provost explained that he was doing double duty.
“Normally, Parents’ Weekend features two question-and-answer sessions—this one with me in the morning and the other with President Hennessy in the afternoon,” he told a nearly full house at Memorial Auditorium.
“I’m happy to say that, in past years, I’ve successfully encouraged parents to save their really hard questions for the president. But, as many of you know, President Hennessy is on a brief sabbatical leave. So we’ll have to make do with this one opportunity.”
Parents wasted no time sharing what was on their minds. Among the issues raised:
• Challenging changes to the Axess system for paying bills online
• Cumbersome delivery of packages to their children, including delayed deliveries of overnight mail and long lines for pickup
• Whether Stanford takes steps to assure the human rights of workers who make university-licensed apparel
• The future of online education and of ebooks
• Federal privacy laws that allow students to keep their grades and university records private, even from parents
• The reasons for the high cost of higher education
• Whether sophomore seminars will still be available under proposed changes to undergraduate education
• Alcohol use—especially hard alcohol—among Stanford students
• The role of the arts and creativity in undergraduate education and the application of real-world problems to the curriculum
• Availability of recreational music opportunities on campus
• Whether Stanford should stress internships in light of a challenging job market
Mom Ayele Amavigan asked a question of the provost.
The question-and-answer period also offered a bit of levity. A mother who had complained last year that her son’s bike had been stolen on campus returned this year to announce that the bike had been recovered. She also took the opportunity to ask the provost to expand the Stanford Guest House, which is operated by Residential and Dining Enterprises and located on the grounds of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. She said the facility is reasonably priced and convenient, but complained that reservations must be made well in advance.
“Please get more rooms in the Stanford Guest House before 2014,” she said. “I’m bringing 12 people for my son’s graduation.”