Students report large gatherings on campus

Sept. 29, 2020, 10:51 p.m.

Undergraduate students have reported large gatherings — some involving 40 to 50 students — on campus. Undergraduates said the reported gatherings have led them to be concerned about their safety and future housing, while also creating a growing sense of division and hostility on campus.

University spokesperson E.J. Miranda declined to confirm the reported gatherings. Both indoor and outdoor gatherings between members of different households are prohibited by the University.

Two students who work for 5-SURE on Foot (5-SURE), a campus organization which has been distributing personal protective equipment, confirmed seeing several parties, recalling a large gathering on Sept. 18 on Arguello Field. One 5-SURE employee reported seeing 40 to 50 frosh on the field, with other groups of upperclassmen or graduate students on the field as well. “Many were cuddling and most were not wearing masks,” the employee wrote.

On another evening, the two employees saw around 30 frosh joining other groups of people on Arguello Field.

One student employee said the job had now become “demoralizing.” Another, who said they have an immune deficiency, said concern for their safety had now become a regular part of the job.

An anonymous message was also posted on the Stanford Missed Connections Instagram page on Sept. 21, expressing contempt about the alleged gatherings by frosh and older students. 

“I just don’t understand how you could prioritize your willingness to break the campus compact (so … egregiously) and jeopardize the safety and well-being of folks who literally live in the same building as you …,” wrote the anonymous poster.

Miranda noted the COVID Community Concern Reporting Form and the commitment of the dean of students to respond to each one, citing the importance of the Campus Compact to the functioning of the University.

“We have a collective responsibility to keep our campus and our local community as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Miranda wrote.

Many undergraduates are also calling attention to the threat gatherings bring to their health and housing security. Beyond Arguello Field, gatherings have also been seen near EVGR A, where many undergraduates on campus are housed.

Andreea Jitaru ’23, a first-gen and/or low-income (FLI) student from Moldova, said she was concerned that the behavior of students on campus is endangering her housing. She added that it would be difficult for her to find somewhere to rent or a plane ticket home if asked to leave campus. 

Goli Emami ’21 said she was worried about health risks posed by gatherings and the potential to have to leave campus during the quarter.  

“For a lot of people like me, for instance, some people have disabilities so it’s very hard for us,” Emami said. “In addition to the health risk that has for me, I will be forced to move to another building and even the thought of that — it’s very stressful for me.”

Students both on and off campus emphasized their concerns that if large gatherings continue, it may impede their ability to return to campus later in the year.  

Crystal Chen ’24 said she viewed fall quarter as a test run for possible student behavior in the future. 

“I’m scared of how the administration is going to see this, and how we’re going to be able to get on campus for the winter if we know that a bunch of people are still going to gather, even with repeated warnings,” Chen said.

Kheshawn Wynn ’23 encouraged students to follow University social distancing guidelines.

“A lot of the people on campus are housing insecure, and they’re relying on everyone to do their part,” Wynn said.

Miranda declined to comment on the impact student behavior could have on the University’s plans to invite frosh, sophomores and transfer students in the winter. He added that state and county public health guidance will play a significant role in the decision-making process, without addressing the role of the current behavior of students on campus in the plans. 

“If public health conditions and requirements allow, we look forward to welcoming frosh, sophomores and first-year transfers on campus for winter quarter,” Miranda wrote.

Frosh also raised concerns about generalizations being made or blame being unduly placed on all members of the Class of 2024. While frosh have received significant attention in the SMC posts about the gatherings, students have also voiced concern over the behavior of upperclassmen. 

Frosh said the increased attention on allegations of frosh partying has created tension between the Class of 2024 and upperclassmen on campus that is getting in the way of mentorship and friendships.

“I think it’s better to hold individuals and people you know more personally accountable, rather than groups of arbitrary people you might hear about, like frosh,” said Nathanie Doralus ’24. “I think that’s when class tensions arise.” 

Frosh who said they are following guidelines and prioritizing safety reported being chastised by other members of the Stanford community. Kyle Lambert ’24 said he feels “extremely anxious” when leaving his room, even when adhering to the social distancing rules.

“It seems as if they’re looking for someone to chastise — for someone to blame,” Lambert said.

To Lambert, community-based approaches like speaking with individual students, instead of generalizing the behavior to an entire class, would be a more effective way to address the gatherings.

The University recognizes that other approaches may be needed to address the issue of students breaking the Campus Compact, according to Miranda.

“We are emphasizing educational and restorative interventions and asking students to speak to one another about their concerns,” Miranda wrote. “However, we recognize that other approaches may be needed.”

Contact Malaysia Atwater at matwater ‘at’

Malaysia Atwater '23 is a senior staff writer and former Vol. 260/261 managing editor in the News section. She is a political science major from Centennial, Colorado, and she enjoys dancing and re-watching Grey's Anatomy in her free time. Contact her at matwater 'at'

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