At Full Moon on the Quad, rain doesn’t dampen spirits

Oct. 30, 2015, 12:50 p.m.

Stanford students might not be accustomed to rainy weather, but that didn’t stop them from coming out by the thousands to Full Moon on the Quad, the annual undergraduate tradition a 2013 New York Times article called “an orgy of interclass kissing reluctantly but officially sanctioned by the university.”

Full Moon on the Quad might be sanctioned by the University, but it didn’t resemble an orgy this year. Even after the official “countdown” shortly before 11:30 p.m., after which an LED wall flashed the word “KISS,” not too many students could be seen kissing.

Still, spirits seemed high at the event on Tuesday night, which started at 9:30 p.m. and went until shortly past midnight. Hundreds of students milled about in a thick crowd laughing and talking, while student DJs hired by the junior class cabinet played music on equipment provided by the Stanford Concert Network. 

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Some students showed up to the event in various states of nudity, many of them sporting the traditional body paint despite the chilly weather, and congregated in an area near the front of the Quad.

“The weather doesn’t matter,” said one body-painted student who started giggling when approached by a reporter and declined to give her name.

Other students showed up in various costumes, while some came in regular clothes. Sarah Young ’17, the current Tree, walked around in her mascot costume.

At the event, Peer Health Educators (PHEs) staffed a table with water and cups of mouthwash, and some held “Consent Is Sexy” signs.

Students from the Sexual Health Peer Resource Center and HIV*PACT offered multiple types of condoms at another table, while sober monitors staffed a water table in front of Memorial Church.

Off to one side the Stanford Flipside ran a sparsely attended bingo game, while a few students waved rainbow flags to designate an LGBTQ-friendly kissing area.

New this year at Full Moon on the Quad was the LED wall that was built for the Ram’s Head Theatrical Society’s production of “Hairspray” last year. The student group Lighting, Innovation and Technology Education at Stanford programmed it for use at Tuesday’s event.

At tables outside the event, near Cubberley School of Education, free Krispy Kreme donuts and mini cupcakes were available starting early in the evening. Catered food from The Axe and Palm arrived at 11:45 p. m., and Lila Thulin ’17, who organized the food tabling, said the quesadillas and other food from the popular eatery were “demolished.”

The music and food are the result of efforts on the part of administrators and student organizers to ensure students can have a good time attending Full Moon on the Quad even if they choose not to kiss people there.

“For the last couple years, we’ve sent a pretty strong message that it’s not all about the kissing,” said Snehal Naik, assistant dean and associate director of Student Activities, who helped the junior class cabinet organize the event.

An email sent to all students by Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Chris Griffith on Sunday emphasized that “Kissing is NOT required.”

“If you choose to participate, then make sure to get affirmative consent — an uncoerced YES,” the email read. “Any form of sexual harassment, rude and unruly behavior or other misconduct will not be tolerated and will prompt student disciplinary action.”

While the issue of affirmative consent is currently a hot topic on college campuses, junior class co-president Hannah Hsieh ’17, the student head of logistics for the event, said it’s now a regular part of Full Moon on the Quad. She and the other organizers from the junior cabinet made a promo video for the event that emphasized the importance of consent in the kissing aspect of the event, and PHEs and volunteer event staff were on hand to watch for any nonconsensual behavior.

“It was great to see so many people asking, consenting and saying no in a respectful manner,” Hsieh wrote in an email to The Daily.

In addition to the 25 volunteer staff who helped patrol the event, sworn and unsworn personnel provided security and crowd management for the event.

Speaking at midnight at the event, Lieutenant Chris Cohendet of the Stanford Police Department said there had already been some medical calls linked to the event, but no arrests had been made.

“The event’s been going smoothly,” Cohendet said. “I think the reason why the event runs so smoothly is a combination of student planning, university planning and planning with the police department.”

Naik said there were several alcohol transports linked to the event but he did not know how many. He said he did not know of any arrests related to the event.

When asked whether Full Moon on the Quad this year went smoothly overall, Naik responded with ambivalence.

“Smoothly or successfully…it’s just so odd to say that with this event,” Naik said. “It’s hard to say. It was contained.”

Naik noted that the event has evolved, over time, from a low-budget student gathering to a $25,000 event (funded by student fees and the University). It’s made him wonder whether the current format is what students really want, he said.

“If we were to rethink a new tradition that costs $25,000, what would that look like?” Naik said, mentioning that Full Moon on the Quad is one of the most highly attended events for undergraduates.

“It would be interesting to see what other things we can do as a university to draw that many people for a few hours,” he added.

Naik said he wants to hear from students about how they feel about Full Moon on the Quad and said a survey about it may be carried out in the future.

“We assume because it’s a tradition that we must continue it exactly the way it is, but I think traditions can evolve over time,” Naik said.

However, Hsieh and the co-chairs of the event, junior class president Anna Zappone ’17 and cabinet member Julia Olson ’17, were positive about how this year’s event went.

“We had some challenges due to the weather and sound limitations, but overall everyone seemed to be really enjoying the festivities and the LED wall was a big hit,” Olson wrote in an email to The Daily. “Our main priority was to keep the event as safe, fun and as close to the tradition as possible.”

According to Zappone, who said Full Moon on the Quad was the reason she got involved in junior class government, the event brings undergraduates together for a celebration of Stanford culture.

“It’s amazing to see how quirky and absurd the night is ­— for many freshmen, it’s their first introduction to ‘rally,’ body paint and, of course, to the tradition,” Zappone wrote. “Every community and every costume seems to be represented in this one event and it really gives a distinct feel for what it’s like to be a member of the Stanford community.”


Contact Emma Johanningsmeier at ejmeier ‘at’

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