by Holly Fetter, ’13
When I tell people that I’m studying race and ethnicity, I get one of two reactions. The first, undoubtedly inspired by my pale skin, is the inevitable “Why did you decide to major in that?” The second comes from a more practical perspective: “What are you going to do with that?”
It seems that the dominant perception of a college degree is that is must be lucrative. It’s fine to use one’s undergraduate years to experiment with new hairstyles, narcotics, and sexual orientations, but the end result must be a good shot at a six-figure salary. College is only “worth it” if you gain some marketable skills.
As soon as I declared my love for interdisciplinary thinking, I felt that I had to make a decision — would I major in Econ and be ushered into Stanford’s college-to-consulting pipeline, or shun that world in favor of classes in which I could write about queer rappers and racist Halloween costumes? I entered sophomore year with a notion that these were two divergent tracks, and that it was imperative that I pick one over the other lest I spend my post-graduate years in some sad, unemployable limbo.
I think this dynamic helps explain the infamous Stanford apathy. Embedded in our campus culture is the notion that pursuing a pre-professional major and getting an activist education are mutually exclusive acts. Continue reading