Student stunts kick off Tree Week

Feb. 18, 2010, 1:03 a.m.

IHUM professors, lock your classroom doors, and students, start flocking to White Plaza — it’s Tree Week.

Six hopefuls are performing stunts across campus as they compete for the coveted title of the Leland Stanford Junior University Band’s beloved mascot: the Stanford Tree.

Student stunts kick off Tree Week
Rachel Lindee '12 covers herself in food to become a human birdfeeder in White Plaza on Wednesday. (MATTHEW ALEXANDER/The Stanford Daily)

The 10-day competition, which began on Monday and ends with the announcement of the new Tree next Thursday morning, is the period during which Band management and former Trees judge the current contestants — often called Saplings.

“Before Tree Week, everyone is nothing, and just in Tree Week you have to show us you deserve an interview and by the most creative means possible,” said current Tree Jonathan “Shu-Fry” Strange ’11.

The current competitors include band and non-band affiliates alike. The band contingent includes Ben “Bollox” Cortes ’11 and Kirk “Big Dickosaurus” Erickson ’10, both in the drum section, and Robbie “Donkey Fluffer” Zimbroff ’12, who joined the trumpet section in the fall. He is still learning the instrument.

Non-band Saplings include Chris Hadley ’10, who ran for Tree in 2007, and Rachel Lindee ’12, the only female candidate. The final candidate, Victor Em ’13, has yet to perform a stunt, but appeared at the Band Shak dressed in boxers, a wifebeater and a cape-like costume covering his face.

“Someone actually told me I was too creepy for the Band for some reason,” said Em.

There are currently four main ground rules: no fire, no electrocution, no serious bodily harm that would result in a trip to the hospital (even if the candidate chooses not to go) and nothing illegal. “I always forget about that one,” Strange said. If Saplings violate these rules, they face disqualification.

Even though the week is young, there have already been numerous colorful public stunts.

Student stunts kick off Tree Week
Robbie Zimbroff '12 performs a skit in an IHUM classroom on Wednesday morning. (MATTHEW ALEXANDER/The Stanford Daily)

Zimbroff, who has been publicly endorsed by quarterback Andrew Luck ’12, kicked off his America-themed campaign by driving up to the Shak in a covered wagon — which is currently camped out in White Plaza — and performing a choreographed dance with numerous supporters.

On Tuesday, Zimbroff and supporters stormed an IHUM classroom with a rehearsed skit in which Zimbroff, in colonial gear, was tried for treason and faux-tarred-and-feathered before performing a short rap.

Thus far, Hadley has been covered in red, white and green paint — a homage to Stanford and Tree pride — and he shopping-cart jousted with a contingent of Sigma Nus in White Plaza on Tuesday at noon. Carts were decorated with slogans including, “Wake up in the morning feeling like Tree Diddy.”

Lindee, whose campaign slogan is “Lindee for Tree, Lindtree for life,” has performed two stunts as well. On Monday, she performed the rap “Lean Like a Tree,” a spoof on the Kilo song, supported by backup dancers, and she made herself into a “human birdfeeder” in White Plaza on Tuesday, covering herself with syrups and cereals.

Cortes has been serenading the band and bystanders thus far. He played ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” on the roof of the Shak, and recited “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” after inhaling a variety of gases from balloons that altered his voice between high and low ranges.

Erickson announced his candidacy from the top of a tree more than 40 feet tall.

“I wanted to swim through barracudas in the Claw, but it turns out that you need an exotic animals’ license for barracudas, and the Claw doesn’t have any water, so it just became a little too much trouble to go for,” Erickson said.

Student stunts kick off Tree Week
Chris Hadley '10 engages in shopping cart jousting as part of a stunt on Wednesday. (WYATT ROY/The Stanford Daily)

But much of the excitement remains to be seen. Lindee is planning a public event in White Plaza on Thursday after the basketball game at 10 p.m. Cortes is planning a “Twilight” tribute and encourages readers to “keep their ears to ground” to join in a “roaming gorilla zombie party.” Other candidates have stunts planned throughout the week, but are holding off on details in efforts to surprise students.

Although many stunts are public, many others happen in a more secretive manner, with a Band-only audience. At the end of the day, only Band management and the former Tree decide the winner.

“You really gotta prioritize who you really are trying to impress,” Strange said,  “and if you aren’t impressing me then you aren’t going to be Tree.”

According to Band officials, any remaining Tree hopefuls have until Friday to announce their candidacy.

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