Oct. 25, 2011, 1:00 a.m.
(SERENITY NGUYEN/The Stanford Daily)

A crash, a bang, and a giggle woke Lauren Miller ’15 at 6:15 a.m. The dawn light seeped into the dorm room through the blinds as the cacophony in the hallway grew. She heard a flurry of hushed chatter before all went silent. Suddenly, the door roared with pounds and cheers of Stanford students.

“Sweatshirt, shoes, keys!” voices outside thundered.

Dazed and confused, Miller creaked the door open. A troupe of neon and spandex-adorned people crowded her doorway. “It was so early, I couldn’t even comprehend what they could possibly be there for,” said Miller. They introduced themselves as the Frosh Council. Lauren Miller was their newest addition.

Before she could comprehend what had happened, the troupe grabbed her and darted to the next dorm. Soon enough, Miller was standing at the door of the next victim, banging and clamoring just as others had to her door.

After the Frosh Council completed their dorm-to-dorm frolic, their final task was a sprint to the quad.

There’s something about bonding in the middle of that grand courtyard that you can’t get from inside a classroom, Miller said. “It means so much more than a congratulatory e-mail.”

After getting to know her new friends from some icebreaker games, Miller ate breakfast with the rest of the Frosh Council. She appreciated the setting, the people and the early morning bonding of the Frosh Council. After finishing her breakfast at 8 AM, Miller made her trip back to her dorm to get ready for an early-morning exam. The communal craziness came to the end.

Although every group does it a little differently, the basic concept of rollout is the same: an initiation in which someone is involuntarily taken from their room and compelled to hang out with their new group. Through this initiation process, these roll outs help build a strong extracurricular foundation.

As Miller conducted her own rollouts, she came to appreciate this early-morning awakening.

She was now part of a community of people, a group committed enough to plan and perpetrate this early-morning adventure. As she became familiar with her fellow council members, she said she couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of camaraderie.

“Last year’s Frosh council did the roll-outs and they got me excited to be a part of such a committed and enthusiastic group of people,” Miller said. The upperclassmen raved about their experience in the group, recounting the friends and memories they made, all while climbing up lounge windows and crawling through laundry rooms.

Rollouts also serve to secure allegiances. Competing groups that attract the same talented candidates try to roll out individuals before other, similar groups.

“Gaieties roll outs happened on a Friday while A capella groups did roll outs the day after, on Saturday,” said Annika Grangaard ’12, Vocal Director at Gaieties. “This definitely has some impact on where people end up.”

This tradition has ensued for decades. While back for alumni weekend, Branner alumni from the late ‘80’s discussed how rollouts have changed.

In their time, rollouts were rare and reserved for special inaugurations, the alumni agreed. They were conducted, for example, when new members pledged fraternities and sororities, or when new RA’s found out about their positions. On Valentine’s Day, suited-males in the dorm would roll out pajama-clad females. They walked them to a dining hall, which they had decorated before, and enjoyed a romantic breakfast.

Apart from the excitement of it all, the origin of rollout remains a mystery. Asking various longstanding campus figures will lead to speculation, sympathy and sometimes, outright evasion. Maybe their origin is a confidential secret known only to the founders of each group. Maybe no one truly knows how or why rollouts began. In any case, rollouts are a Stanford tradition, a cultural oddity and expedient bonding opportunity that keep the Cardinal spirit alive.

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