Marx House in Suites will become the new entrepreneurship-themed “eDorm” starting in the 2012-13 academic year, as a result of collaboration between E2.0–a student group focused on providing help and services for entrepreneurial students–and Residential Education (ResEd), along with other administrators.
According to ResEd’s website, students living in the eDorm will form start-up teams, as well as attend seminars, guest lectures and dinners with mentors.
According to Dean of Residential Education Deborah Golder, ResEd typically receives proposals for multiple prospective dorm themes each year, but decided to pursue the eDorm because of its potential to reach all types of students.
“From any academic discipline, a student could say they have an idea, and they want to explore it in the context of eDorm,” Golder said. “You don’t have to identify with a certain group. Literally any upperclass student could express interest in this community of thinking and learning together. The notion of entrepreneurialism is truly universal in the Stanford context.”
Half of the 40 students in eDorm next year will pre-assign into the house through ResEd, and half will draw into Marx individually or with a group.
“The pre-assigned students will be selected based on their entrepreneurial nature, their love for innovating and their diverse skill sets and backgrounds that they can bring to the community,” said Viraj Bindra ‘15, director of marketing for E2.0. “Peter Thiel B.A. ‘89, J.D. ‘92 will be the faculty sponsor, and he’ll oversee selection.”
According to Golder, Suites was chosen for the location of the new dorm theme because students manage those spaces, and the new themed dorm has a goal of emphasizing student-initiated action.
“E2.0 is an organization on campus with some incredible resources, and we were trying to find one of the best ways to channel these resources to create maximum output at Stanford,” Bindra said. “What we identified as a chief mode for us to give those resources to students at Stanford was through a collaborative effort like eDorm.”
E2.0 and the eDorm
E2.0 was a branch of ASSU until it separated in October, and had been working on establishing an entrepreneurship dorm prior to the split.
ResEd and E2.0 held meetings with staff and University administrators, including heads of Student Housing and President John Hennessy, to shape and approve the project.
In the past few months, E2.0 executive members Chase Harmon ‘13, Stewart Macgregor-Dennis ‘13 and Dan Thompson ‘13 met with advisers to revise plans.
eDorm is one of a number of projects that E2.0 is currently working on. Other undertakings include an eResource Map to direct students to entrepreneurial resources on- and off-campus and Startup Bus, an effort to connect with entrepreneurial students across the nation.
The organization has received some criticism about the level of success and effectiveness that the new themed dorm will have.
“This is a prototype of the concept of E2.0, and we’re trying to see how well it will work,” Bindra said. “We have eTracking in place, which is our initiative to monitor the success of all our initiatives, including eDorm. We’ll be tracking it throughout the year and making sure that it’s successful and we’re getting the maximum amount of utility out of our resources.”
ResEd agreed with this experimentation-based philosophy.
“If we find out that this works, we could create a model where we start piloting different programs, seeing if there’s enough student interest and creating a process that allows some houses to evolve,” Golder said. “We want to get some data and make decisions based on that.”
Response from Suites
Current Marx residents were not notified of the change apart from an update on the ResEd website.
“The entrepreneurship theme seems stimulating for people that choose to follow that life path,” said Michael Zoldos ‘12, club manager of Beefeater’s Eating Club, where all Marx residents eat. “Overall, I think it will be something that positively benefits those individuals that live there and participate in the dorm activities.”
Morgan Priestley ‘12, CFO of GovCo Dining, which manages the four eating clubs in Suites, does not expect any major changes to eating club operations but is
slightly concerned about the clash of cultures that eDorm might have with the rest of Suites.
“As long as the program stays within its bounds and doesn’t completely change the Suites environment, doesn’t completely take things over, then I think it’s going to be great,” Priestley said. “We’re a little apprehensive of having them be at Suites mostly because the culture doesn’t seem to fit, but I don’t think it will be a big issue. Suites is a very independent place as it is.”
Not the first “eHouse”
eDorm will not be the first housing option in Stanford’s history to have an entrepreneurship focus. Naranja dorm in Lagunita had a social-entrepreneurship theme when it was a four-class dorm, starting in the 2001-02 academic year. Social entrepreneurship is a type of entrepreneurship based on starting a business or organization for the benefit of others.
Andrew Deagon ‘09 was the theme focus assistant during Naranja’s last year with the social entrepreneurship theme, in charge of organizing guest speakers and informing students about entrepreneurial events on campus. Deagon described the theme’s success as “difficult” because few students knew the dorm was themed until they lived there and only a handful of students were really dedicated to the theme.
Resident Fellow Thomas Massey was the driving force behind the dorm’s entrepreneurial focus, and after his passing in Jan. 2009, no one else took on his role.
Regarding eDorm, Deagon said, “I think it has the potential to be extremely successful if it’s marketed to the right students because there are a lot of great minds that could gravitate toward that, but I think that if the people that end up in Marx are there by accident, then it will be difficult to maintain.”
E2.0 is currently working on a marketing campaign to inform students about the new housing option.
“We are hoping by encouraging this collaborative, creative atmosphere, we will give a lot of people the opportunity to create great ideas and help others with theirs in order to start something really remarkable,” Bindra said.