Social Life FAQ
Of course not! We want fun—Stanford has always had a sense of whimsy, fun, and irreverence alongside its academic rigor. That’s been part of our enduring zeitgeist, something that distinguishes us from many of our peers. And yet, in recent years, many undergraduates have shared that this hasn’t been their experience.
We are actively working to support students in rebuilding social life on campus. The pandemic was difficult. Even in the 2021–22 academic year there were many public health-driven limitations on in-person gatherings and events. This academic year has started with a lot more activity and we are seeing some great student-led events including poetry nights, flag football games, formals, and neighborhood tournaments.
While we’re learning more, here is what we are working on:
- Streamlining the party planning process
- Additional funding available to students
- Providing more low-cost space for student events
- Finding better ways to communicate what student events are happening on campus.
The Social Life Accelerator Task force has been working since April of 2022 to understand the problems of social life on campus and to make short and long term recommendations to the university for how to address those challenges. The task force, made up of alumni, students, and staff, made 14 short-term recommendations for a strong start this fall. Twelve of the 14 are in the process of being implemented, and long-term recommendations are coming in winter quarter. A detailed list of all recommendations and actions we have taken can be found here. The task force continues to meet with students, student leaders, alumni, staff, and parents and will keep the community updated on its progress.
The university’s progress with the short-term recommendations includes:
- Bringing back routine weekend events students can count on including Cardinal Nights and The Arbor at Tresidder, with its popular Thursday trivia and Friday live student performance nights.
- Bringing back Stanford traditions like Band Run, Mausoleum and Big Game Week activities such as Gaieties, Big Game Rally and providing buses to over 500 students to Cal.
- Bringing back the NSO programming that occurred before the pandemic.
- Creating an Explore the Bay event series open to all students and featuring day trips to many landmarks including theme parks, movie theaters (things like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), and professional sports venues (San Jose Sharks game).
- Providing $3,000 grants to Row Houses to support event planning efforts.
- Launching each neighborhood with many welcome/welcome-back activities including NSO socials, all-class BBQs, and other signature events, all promoted and highlighted in new, bi-weekly newsletters and Instagram accounts.
- Hiring 16 student interns to help plan and promote social life and programming for each neighborhood.
- Providing a process for neighborhoods to “theme” any of their affiliated Row houses.
- Introducing a process for community councils (students/RFs/RAs/staff) to name Row Houses currently known by their addresses.
- Making plans for a neighborhood intramural tournament.
- Transforming White Plaza and the Old Union courtyard into places where students can hang out with friends by adding seating, hammocks and more.
- Reopening late-night spots such as late-night dining, The Axe and Palm, and Student Unions.
The party planning process helps students plan safe and fun events that are in compliance with Santa Clara County’s Social Host Ordinance. The ordinance, implemented in 2008, holds responsible parties (most often adults) accountable for serving alcohol to underage people. We have heard and agree with student feedback that the university’s related processes can be challenging to navigate. We have been gathering feedback from groups that frequently use the party planning system to improve the process and user interface and hope to roll out improvements by winter quarter.
Many Stanford traditions continue including events like Band Run, Mausoleum, Gaieties, Big Game, Senior Nights, and Frosh Formal. Students continue to show enthusiasm for these events with over 700 students attending Mausoleum this fall. There are traditions that no longer happen on campus like Exotic Erotic, which students decided to discontinue years ago, and Secret Snowflake, which was discontinued by a committee of students and staff after reports of sexual harassment. Traditions are an important part of our campus and we want to continue them in ways that students support and that keep our campus healthy. We also want students to build new ones!
No. The university believes Greek letter organizations provide exemplary contributions to our community by supporting academic excellence; deep friendships and community bonds; a commitment to philanthropy and advancing the social good; and opportunities for leadership development and mentoring. Stanford remains committed to Greek letter organizations and to ten houses for Greek-letter organizations. Currently, twelve organizations are housed in ten Row houses, five houses with five fraternities and five houses with seven sororities. All Greek-letter organizations in good standing have the opportunity to apply for available houses. Each organization is given a four-year commitment, with the opportunity to apply every four years to remain in housing.
We know that students want to find ways to bring back the types of events that the language and culture houses offered, like Pizzeria and Crepe Night. To help support this, Residential Education has earmarked $3,000 for each Row house to host these kinds of events and graduate and professional staff are available to support event planning. In addition, all Row houses can apply to their neighborhood council for additional funding to host events.