Archive for the ‘Seen on Campus’ Category

Stanford Medical response team heads to the Philippines

November 26th, 2013

Last weekend, several members of Stanford’s emergency-response team headed to the Philippines to provide medical assistance in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Stanford Hospital videographer TODD HOLLAND was on the scene as the team prepared, and he captured the beginning of the journey in a video posted on the Medical School’s SCOPE blog.

Celebrating Professor Robert Simoni

November 25th, 2013

Current and former students, colleagues and friends were on hand for a surprise celebration at Biology Professor Robert Simoni’s final lecture in his Bio41 class on Friday, Nov. 22. President John Hennessy and the Stanford Band also joined in the festivities. Simoni, who is the Donald Kennedy Chair in the School of Humanities and Sciences, has taught the Biocore since 1972.

Fans brave Baltic weather to soak in Estonian culture

November 21st, 2013

From left, Liisi Eglit, Michael Keller and Kadri Viires

The first downpour of the season did not deter more than 100 hearty souls from across campus and the Bay Area from enjoying a dose of Estonian culture on Tuesday night. Planners expected a slightly bigger crowd but for the Baltic guests used to colder climes, a rare California rainstorm added a homey touch. Sponsored by Stanford University Libraries, the “Estonian Cultural Evening” in Cubberley Auditorium featured two documentaries and an overview of the growing Estonian and Baltic collections program led by Assistant Curator LIISI EGLIT.

University Librarian MICHAEL KELLER paid a special tribute to Stanford philanthropist OLGA KISTLER-RITSO, the tenacious subject of the first film, The Woman Who Gave Estonia a Gift of a Museum. Kistler-Ritso, 93, died in Redmond, Wash., on Nov. 18. “Olga really was an Estonian patriot,” Keller said.

A gift from the Kistler family recently established the Estonian and Baltic curatorship at Stanford and launched a collaboration between the library and the Museum of Occupations in Estonia, which the Kistler-Ritso Foundation built a decade ago. Museum Director KADRI VIIRES, visiting from Estonia, talked about her efforts to engage local visitors, many of whom do not want to dwell on their nation’s difficult Soviet and Nazi past, she said.

Filmmakers JIM and MAUREEN TUSTY, who share a long relationship with the Kistlers through their early support of the 2006 film The Singing Revolution, were also on hand to screen To Breathe as One. This new documentary, which will be broadcast on U.S. public television in spring 2014, tells the story of Estonia’s 150-year-old Song Festival, or Laulupidu. For two days every five years, 30,000 choral singers join an audience of 100,000 to form the largest choir in the world. More than a music festival, the Laulupidu helped unite Estonia and preserve its cultural identity during the 50-year Soviet occupation. The film tells the story of the Laulupidu from the perspective of the Bay Area Piedmont Children’s Choir, one of the few international groups invited to participate in the 2009 festival. After the screening, former Piedmont Choir member ALEX BROWNE, a senior at Head-Royce School in Oakland, told the audience that singing in Estonia taught him about the power of music. “I didn’t just sing the music, I felt the music,” he said. “It gave me vocal proof that it is possible to have a singing revolution, a peaceful revolution.” Estonia peacefully regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The next Laulupidu will be held in Tallinn, Estonia, July 4-6, 2014.

—LISA TREI, School of Humanities and Sciences

Train whistle, impaled Oski and Gaieties herald the 116th Big Game

November 19th, 2013
Beat Cal photo

The Beat Cal sign hangs from Meyer Library. (Photo: Kate Chesley)

Members of the STANFORD AXE COMMITTEE have begun marking the hours until the 116th BIG GAME against the University of California-Berkeley with hourly blows on the Stanford Train Whistle in White Plaza. The noisy tradition is just one of many festivities leading to the annual Big Game on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Stanford Stadium. At stake? The Axe, symbolic of the annual Big Game winner.

Other traditions include the “bearial” of a stuffed replica of the Cal mascot, Oski the Bear, which took place on Monday. Oski was impaled on the top of the Claw fountain in White Plaza by the Axe Committee and Stanford Band. A Big Game Rally was also held on Monday, featuring an eight-minute fireworks display. On Tuesday, the annual Rivals for Life blood drive pitted Stanford against Cal in a competition of blood donations.

Stanford Band photo

Members of the Stanford Band play with an impaled Oski in the background. (Photo: Kate Chesley)

Tonight, Wednesday, performances of Gaieties begin. Gaieties, a student-created musical comedy that pokes fun at Cal, is—at 102—one of the oldest traditions at Stanford. This year’s Gaieties is called Gaietiesburg: A Campus Divided and features a jaded Disney channel star, four hapless freshmen and a rift that threatens to end Stanford forever.

And, on Friday, members of the Stanford community will be able to purchase Nerd Nation T-shirts at the Arrillaga Alumni Center from noon to 2 p.m.

Saturday’s football game isn’t the only athletic competition between Stanford and Cal this week. On Tuesday, the two schools held the Big Sail, pitting the Stanford and Cal sailing teams in a competition on San Francisco Bay. Big Splash, also on Saturday at 10 a.m. in Avery Aquatic Center, is the annual clash of the Stanford and Cal men’s water polo teams.

For more information, visit the Big Game website, watch the Big Game video and check out the Big Game Axe Committee webpage.

Can’t make the game? Then watch it on Fox. Go Cardinal. Beat Cal.

Spanish royals visit Stanford

November 14th, 2013

From left, Stanford Fulbright Scholar Laura Aymerich Franch and Associate Professor Jeremy Bailenson, director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, escort the  Princess and Crown Prince of Spain during a visit to campus Thursday, Nov. 14.  Aymerich Franch and Bailenson gave the couple a tour of the lab. (Photo: Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News)

FELIPE, PRINCE OF ASTURIAS, the Crown Prince of Spain, and LETIZIA, PRINCESS OF ASTURIAS, paid a visit to campus Thursday, Nov. 14. They were greeted at the top of the Oval by Provost JOHN ETCHEMENDY; JEFF WACHTEL, senior assistant to the president; and SCOTTY MCLENNAN, dean for religious life.

Following a brief tour of Memorial Church, the delegation met JEREMY BAILENSON, associate professor of communication and director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab. They toured the lab and got a demonstration of its work.

The delegation then proceeded to Wallenberg Hall for an informal lunch with a group of about 50 students who are from Spain.

Stanford students stand in support of typhoon victims in the Philippines

November 13th, 2013



Members of Stanford’s Pilipino American Student Union were on White Plaza yesterday raising awareness about the super typhoon that hit the Philippines last week. (Photo: Aaron Kehoe)

When people ask JOMAR SEVILLA if he has family members in the Philippines, his response is, “They are all our family, and your family as well.”

The Stanford senior, who is majoring in electrical engineering, was part of a contingent on White Plaza on Wednesday, Nov. 13, talking to passersby about Super Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda.

Sevilla, who hails from Los Angeles, is co-chair of the Pilipino American Student Union (PASU). In the aftermath of the violent storm that hit the Philippines Nov. 8, the group has been raising awareness about the situation there and encouraging  donations to the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), a grassroots organization.

While members of PASU were on White Plaza Wednesday as part of an International Day of Solidarity for Victims of Typhoon Haiyan, their efforts will be ongoing. Sophomore hum-bio major ED SALONGA, who is from Guam, noted that typhoons are commonplace. “The Philippines is struck by typhoons at least six times a year. The conditions don’t change, even though the media doesn’t cover it.”

All agree that the devastation of this most recent storm is, as Sevilla put it, “heartbreaking.”

To find out about other activities PASU will be involved in, Salonga urges people to visit the group’s Facebook page.

Also, during University Public Worship on Sunday, Nov. 17, the Office for Religious Life will designate its weekly offering to the American Red Cross for relief aid to victims of the typhoon.



Stanford president honors veterans

November 11th, 2013

Each year for the past few years, Stanford has honored its veterans by placing floral wreaths in Memorial Court and in Memorial Auditorium on Veterans Day. The arrangements include a letter from university President JOHN HENNESSY.


Zani Nesvacil, a U.S Marine veteran of Desert Storm, stops to read a message from President John Hennessy placed with a wreath in Memorial Court on Veterans Day.



The day the Duck dynasty fell at Stanford

November 8th, 2013
Members of the Stanford Axe committee and the Stanford Band perform during the noon rally.

Members of the Stanford Axe Committee and the Stanford Band perform during the noon rally.

The excitement for the gridiron faceoff between the Stanford Cardinal and the Oregon Ducks on Nov. 7 grew during a noon rally in White Plaza and then continued to climb through the evening game. Cardinal fans cheered the team to a 26-20 victory over the previously undefeated Ducks. Photographers LINDA CICERO and AARON KEHOE  captured some of the festivities in this slideshow.

Haas Center and Stanford Bookstore collaboration seeks gently used laptops

November 7th, 2013 Amat Amat

A laptop donation program inspired by a Stanford alum makes it possible for high school seniors at Mission High School in San Francisco to have a laptop when they head off to college.

The recipients are participants in the Athletic Scholars Advancement Program (ASAP), an independent, nonprofit, year-round program, which aims to get more low-income students into college and help them succeed once they are there. ASAP currently serves 350 Mission High students involved in athletics, either as players or supporters.

In a partnership with the Stanford Bookstore and the Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford community members can now drop off laptops that are no more than five years old at the Bookstore. As an added incentive, the Bookstore is offering donors a discount on the donor’s next purchase.

Since it was founded in 2004, ASAP has helped more than 800 students attend summer enrichment programs on college campuses. Most ASAP students are from low-income backgrounds, and 60 percent are English-language learners. Ninety-seven percent are the first in their families to attend college.

The donation program was launched in 2011, when ASAP Executive Director LIZ BUTLER STEYER, ’86, ’91, learned that teacher laptops at her daughter’s private school were given away after three years. Steyer approached the school about contributing the computers to ASAP, and the program received its first eight laptops.

Two years later, VIVIAN WONG, ’12, working as a Stanford Public Interest Network fellow at ASAP, was asked to find a stable source of computers. Wong and Steyer thought of their alma mater and approached JEFF DEUTSCH, Stanford Bookstore’s director of stores, about institutionalizing the donation program to help low-income college students and, at same time, reduce e-waste.

Mission High School seniors who wish to receive a donated laptop apply by writing an essay on how it will contribute to their college success. Once they have a donated laptop, it is theirs to keep. Wong described one student who emphasized in her essay how having a laptop would make it easier for her to stay in touch with her support network as she adjusts to her new college life thousands of miles away in Pennsylvania.

ERIC GUTHERTZ, Mission High’s principal, emphasizes that for his students, college “acceptance and enrollment are only half the battle.” While he praises ASAP for its phenomenal work in creating a college-bound culture at Mission High School, he adds that the laptop donation program means that students are equipped with “the technology needed to access the full college academic experience.”

Any laptop donated to the program must be privately owned, five years old or younger, in working condition and Internet-capable. Donating a laptop is completely free and tax-deductible. Since all data must be wiped from the device before it is donated, donors can download the free DBAN software to wipe the laptop memory.

For more information about donating a laptop, contact SHELLEY HUGHES at or (650) 329-1217, ext. 375.

—LAURA MONKMAN, Haas Center for Public Service


“You Can Play” video designed to create a safe space for all athletes

October 29th, 2013

As a basketball player, TONI KOKENIS witnessed firsthand how toxic the culture of varsity sports can be for gay, lesbian and transgender athletes. Kokenis recounted instances where athletes have used the word “gay” as a synonym for stupid or uncool or as a way to characterize their opponents as inferior.

“People will say it in a joking manner, but we need to create an atmosphere where everyone understands that’s not OK,” Kokenis told TRES PITTMAN, who wrote an article about Kokenis’ experience for the Clayman Institute’s Gender News.

To help create a more open environment for athletes at Stanford, Kokenis and three colleagues founded Stanford Athletes and Allies Together (StAAT), which works to ensure that there is a safe space to discuss issues about gender identity, gender expression and sexual nonconformity as they relate to athletes.

In its first year, StAAT has hosted several group meetings to discuss current events on campus and athlete-specific issues.  They also collaborated with Safe and Open Spaces at Stanford (SOSAS) to host a panel at the monthly coaches meeting where LGBT athletes spoke to coaches about how to be strong allies. Working with those in power, Kokenis said, is the most important and effective way to ensure that their message receives the attention and credit it deserves.

The culmination of the organization’s first year has been its You Can Play video, a public service announcement created to convey the group’s message that “if you can play, you can play.” The video features 30 coaches and athletes, including Athletic Director BERNARD MUIR and head basketball coach TARA VANDERVEER. Kokenis said that the diversity of the group, with almost every varsity sport represented, conveys the solidarity behind StAAT and its ethic of acceptance.

Read Pittman’s story on the Gender News website.