I attended several Stanford get-togethers for students in the Bay Area during the summer between my high school graduation and my first day at Stanford, and each made me more excited and antsy than the last. The majority of these events were hosted at the houses of alumni in the area, and there were always current students present, eager to answer questions and talk to us fresh meat about what we were planning on doing once we got to Stanford. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure shameless student group recruiting starts at these events.
The get-togethers always ended in a Q&A session with a panel of the current Stanford students, usually led by the alumnus (or alumni — let’s not forget about that scarily high marriage rate) hosting the party. These sessions were harmless enough; the students answered questions about what they were majoring in and what they liked best about Stanford, bestowing upon all of us a piece of wisdom they wish they had known before starting their freshman year.
Now, at every single gathering I went to, at least half of the current students gave us the same piece of advice: “Live in an all-freshman dorm.” This statement was usually followed up with endorsements such as, “I had the best time of my life! Larkin love forever!” or, “I met all my best friends in my freshman dorm!” The discussions tended to end in jocular arguments about whether Stern or Wilbur was superior.
At the time, I had no idea what Stern or Wilbur was, but I knew that, as an incoming freshman, I simply had to live there. So I ran home, filled out my housing forms and sent them off, eagerly waiting for the email response that would inform me of my residence for the upcoming year.
When my housing assignment finally arrived, I found myself staring at my screen in confusion. I had been placed in a four-class dorm — in West Lag, to be specific — and I didn’t really know what to expect.
All of my future classmates that I had met at Admit Weekend were eagerly updating their Facebook statuses. I saw multiple “Otero!!!!” and “OMG GUYS, I’M IN TWAIN TOO!” statements, but absolutely none that said West Lag. In that moment, it seemed as if every freshman but me had been placed into an all-freshman dorm.
Granted, once I arrived at Stanford, I quickly learned that the majority of the residents in my dorm were fellow freshmen, and most of my real fears went unrealized. Living in a four-class dorm didn’t prevent me from making best friends. To this day, my closest friends are the ones who lived in West Lag with me.
I entered the housing draw with six friends from Lag, and I still live with my roommate from last year (thank you, Stanford Housing, for getting that one right). I made one of the best friends I have ever had in that dorm. This friend had actually requested a four-class, so we would never have met if I hadn’t been placed in West Lag.
So if everything turned out dandy, then why this column? Because, despite the fact that I ended up having a great freshman year, I still managed to miss out on a few “key Stanford experiences” that four-class dorms tend to ignore. I got to enjoy all the awkwardness of Scavenger Hunt and Screw Your Roommate, but I missed out on events like the infamous Game and the (supposedly) epic mess of a night that is Dorm Storm. Hearing my fellow Fourteen-ers recount stories from those nights a year later, I can’t help but feel like I may have missed out on an experience I would have cherished for a lifetime.
This week’s column is nothing more than a plea to those currently going through the staffing application process. Some of you will get placed as RAs in four-class dorms. On behalf of the incoming Class of 2016, I humbly request that when you plan the upcoming year, please keep in mind that you have eager freshman residents in your midst, and there’s a good chance that quite a few of them requested an all-freshman dorm. Rather than ignoring this fact, four-class RAs would be better off trying to establish connections with East Campus freshman residences in order to ensure that no one misses out on any of the ridiculousness that is supposed to accompany freshman year.
Ravali wants to know where you stand on the ever-contentious Stern vs. Wilbur issue. Send your thoughts to ravreddy “at” stanford “dot” edu.