A mistake or the right call? Students express mixed reactions to upperclassmen return

Feb. 26, 2021, 12:16 a.m.

Students say they are split on whether Stanford’s reaffirmed intent to bring juniors and seniors to campus for spring quarter is the right decision, though most are cautiously optimistic.

“I think it’s a mistake,” Cainan Cole ’21, a student currently living on campus, wrote in an email  to The Daily. Cole cited continued violations of the Campus Compact as his main reason for concern. Considering that unsafe gatherings threaten the safety of campus staff in addition to students, “I don’t think it’s safe,” he wrote. 

During the winter quarter, with 1,500 undergraduates living on campus, students reported large, maskless parties and a lack of enforcement of the campus compact. Amisha Iyer ’23 — another student currently living on campus — hopes that undergraduates will self-regulate to avoid the involvement of higher authorities.

Iyer and other students felt that overall, Stanford’s COVID-19 prevention protocols have been effective. “I think the decision will ultimately be beneficial, and kickstart the process to finally allow all students back on campus in the Fall,” she wrote in an email to The Daily. Iyer also specified that while cases may rise initially due to more people traveling, she believes Stanford’s “strict testing” and quarantining requirements have been effective at lowering positivity rates on campus.

Julia Hok ’23, a sophomore currently on campus, called the University’s prevention methods a “somewhat decent system” but wrote that she was still “hoping for the best” since some students may break rules. 

Some students have more faith in juniors and seniors adhering to COVID safety protocols. Alexa Ramachandran ’22, a junior living off campus, wrote the university “made the right decision, saying the household living arrangements and frequent testing will mitigate the spread of the virus. According to her, juniors and seniors “have already experienced college party culture” and are more likely to resist large gatherings.

Many students are eager to transition back to life on The Farm. According to a survey sent out last week by the Associated Students of Stanford University Undergraduate Senate (ASSU), the majority of juniors and seniors wrote they would “definitely” return to campus if permitted. However, 10% of juniors and 12% of seniors were just as certain that they would not take Stanford up on its invitation. 

Mwengwe Mpekansambo ’22, a junior currently living on campus, wrote she thinks students will find life on campus more restrictive than they expect. Juniors and seniors know what a “normal spring” looks like, she wrote, and may feel inclined to “relish as much of the quarter as they can” after getting their first few negative test results back.

Mpekansambo added that campus may feel less locked down in the spring for students who have already been on campus during the winter or fall, however.

Even those who are concerned with Stanford’s plans for the spring share an understanding of the emotional difficulties that come with a disconnected college experience. Despite his belief that Stanford should not plan for juniors and seniors’ return, Cole wrote being “cooped up” on campus “beats another quarter of Zoom University from home.” 

Marli Bosler ’24 is a beat reporter for the Daily from Kirkland, WA. In her free time she enjoys making Spotify playlists and daydreaming about Seattle coffee.Sam Catania ’24 is the Volume 262 Editor in Chief of The Daily. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer, the producer of the weekly video roundup, a news beat reporter covering COVID-19 on Stanford's campus and the assessment team leader of The Daily's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. Sam hails from Philadelphia and is studying Symbolic Systems. You can follow him on Twitter @sbcatania. Contact him at scatania 'at' stanforddaily.com

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