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Andrew Who?

November 9, 2011

It's weird to be an arts person on a campus that's much more focused on business, science and sport.

Only yesterday, during a workshop I was leading with the few students who serve as writers and editors on the Stanford Arts Review, the university's recently launched online arts magazine, we devoted a great deal of time to thinking about how the make the arts more visible on campus.

It's telling that I couldn't get anyone from my fellowship to take me up on the offer of a free ticket to one of the last performances ever to be give by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company last week when they came through town. But a few days later, within about 30 seconds of posting a message to the Knight Fellowship email list, I had four offers for takers of a spare ticket I had in my possession for a Stanford Cardinals football game happening this coming Saturday.

It's also telling that on the first day of orientation, the head of my program talked about the university's big new initiatives on Human Health, the Environment and Sustainability and International Relations, but failed to mention the Arts and Creativity Initiative. (Mind you, he didn't give props to The Initiative on Improving K-12 Education either.)

On the other hand, I'm entirely ignorant about campus sports, which are a huge deal here. If I ran into Andrew Luck in the line at Ike's (a popular sandwich bar around here) I wouldn't know the university's star player from any of the other All-American boys that roam around campus in hoodies and short haircuts. And that's in spite of the gaggle of adoring undergraduates that can't help tweeting hysterically every time they catch a glimpse of the athlete. This profile of Luck in today's Stanford Report (the university's daily news circular) says it all.

I consider my ignorance about sports to be a terrible shortcoming. How can I expect people to pay attention to the arts around here if I'm just as blind to athletics?

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