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About Stanford Optical Society

The Stanford Optical Society promotes optical science and technology. We plan exciting events including outreach events, talks, SUPR, and social events!

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A Message From Our Leadership

Dear community,

As leaders in the Stanford Optical Society, we would like to take this moment to directly address our fellow grad students, postdocs, professors, and staff members. We are saddened and appalled by the countless acts of systemic injustice and violence against the Black community, including the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade. We condemn the divisive rhetoric from national leadership and are disappointed with the silence from scientific and institutional leadership.

For us, a PhD, and in general higher scientific learning, is not only about gaining credibility and objectivity -- it also comes with a duty to research and educate. When we speak, others believe us and listen. To paraphrase from this article, remaining silent on issues of racism does not make us more “objective”; it makes us complicit in a system that oppresses members of our community. Especially in subjects like physics, it is important to ask who benefits from the status quo and whose voices have been left out. Black perspectives add value to all fields, not only to fields where Blackness is central to the subject matter.

To our Black friends and colleagues, we cannot understand your pain and will hold ourselves accountable as individuals to recognize our role in perpetuating systemic racism. To our leaders, with the power to enact departmental and school-wide change, we urge you to speak loudly and bravely. Maintain this sentiment in the broader scientific community: to reminisce about a time where scientists and engineers “just focused on science” is to return to a time where we actively neglected to confront inequity and injustice within and beyond academia.

Some of the core issues championed by the current protests are that reforming use-of-force policies and evaluating divestment from police are necessary and urgent. The resources provided below offer some evidence-based actions that we can advocate for or donate to as students. Contacting local government representatives and voting in local and state elections are small actions that serve a larger movement.

It can be uncomfortable to raise our voices when there are gaps in our knowledge, but ignorance and silence has never and will never protect us. Please take care of each other and yourselves. Black Lives Matter.

Lucia Gan and Chris Perez, with the support of Rebecca Hwang, Nate Abebe, Dylan Black, Brandon Buscaino, Alyssa Cartwright, Evan Wang, Payton Broaddus, John Roberts, Simón Lorenzo, Anirudh Vijay, Sunil Pai, Leah Brickson, Jason Herrmann, and Hrishi Srinivas

Resources (by no means an exhaustive list):

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) - research on local policing policies

Campaign Zero - research-based actions for police reform (co-founded by Stanford alum)

NAACP Legal Defense Fund - legal aid and education

National Bail Fund Network - list of community bail funds

Amplify the voices of Black researchers

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi - audiobook available for free on Spotify

Bay Area protests - please take actions to stay safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19