After a two-week process known as Tree Week, Sarah Young ’17 was chosen to be the new Tree for the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) this Sunday.
Half black and half Chinese, Young is the first woman of color to be the Tree in Stanford’s history.
“I’m really proud of Stanford as a whole moving in that direction,” Young said. “Stanford is such a diverse place, and it would be cool if [that diversity] was reflected in every aspect.”
Each year, Tree Week begins after Dollie Day, when the new Dollies are chosen. During Tree Week, candidates – whether members of the Band or not – have the chance to audition to be the new Tree, the Band’s mascot, by completing different stunts of their choice. This year, Tree Week lasted from Feb. 16 to March 1.
“Tree Week is an opportunity for different candidates to show that they have the guts to be the Stanford Tree for a whole year – that they have the dedication to put themselves out there and be a little crazy in front of large crowds,” said Collin Christner ’17, the co-public relations chair for the Band.
According to Christner, the Tree helps Stanford express itself in a different way than usual.
“We are this incredibly academic school,” Christner said. “We do have amazing different programs in every field … but we don’t have to take ourselves too seriously. I think that [the Tree] is just one of those things that keeps the Stanford nonconformity alive.”
This year’s Tree Week stunts included four candidates for Tree: Young, Tommy Meaney ’17, Joe Getsy ’15 and Noah Toyonaga ’17. One candidate carried a Christmas tree on his back from one end of the campus to the other while another created a Snapchat geofilter with his name as the new Tree. Young chose the theme of Treeyoncé for her stunts.
“I love Beyoncé. Everybody loves Beyoncé. So I wanted to do an ode to her,” Young said. “I did a costume every day from a different Beyoncé music video or iconic look… Lots of rhinestones, lots of heels. I wore heels for nine out of the 13 days, so my feet are just [doing] all sorts of protesting, which was totally worth it.”
One of Young’s stunts consisted of a group of her friends carrying her on a surfboard as a reference to Beyoncé’s music video for “Drunk in Love.” Others included having a Nerf war and drinking blended pizza mixed with peas. Through Tree Week, Young also slept outside in different places on campus.
“I didn’t sleep in a bed for two weeks,” Young said, “I made this little tent thing and I was sleeping outside… It was one of the things I wanted to do – be outside, live publicly like Beyoncé. Be with the trees.”
Every year at the end of Tree Week, former Trees get together with the leaders of the band to decide who they think is the best fit for the next year’s Tree. Around five in the morning on Sunday, March 1, the former Trees joined the Band to roll out Young from her dorm room.
“It’s such an honor to be part of that lineage, that legacy – to be such a public figure at Stanford,” Young said. “The goal that I have right now is really just be me and own it and just have a blast.”
According to Young, she felt especially lucky to be chosen as Tree because all of her competitors were “amazing.” Young also expressed gratitude to everyone who helped her through the process.
“It’s quite possible this is just all a dream, and I’m still asleep waiting to be rolled out,” Young said.
“I’m just overwhelmed, grateful that they chose me – just so honored and humbled by it. The whole process was just so positive,” she added. “It’s just been eye-opening, so beautiful, and just a good reminder of what humanity can be.”
As is tradition, Young is going to get the chance to design and make her own costume for Tree. She indicated that her costume will be gender-normatively female, with long eyelashes and red lips, though at the moment she is not sure exactly what it will look like.
Although Young is both overwhelmed and excited to be the new Stanford Tree, she hopes to make the most of her time as the mascot.
“Just to have all of the things I love about this institution and the Band and the support that I’ve had from friends and family at Stanford and outside of Stanford,” Young said. “To be able to combine that into one persona and try and give back all of the wonderful sense of community and excitement, and just sheer joy that Stanford is for me – yeah, that’d be really nice.”
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Young drank pizza blended with peas, not urine. The Daily sincerely regrets this error.
Contact Sevde Kaldıroğlu at sevde ‘at’ stanford.edu.