Stanford creates task force to rejuvenate social life on campus

April 11, 2022, 10:29 p.m.

A group of Stanford alumni, students, staff and families is launching a new initiative called the Undergraduate Social Life Accelerator Task Force, with the goal to reinvigorate Stanford’s social scene. 

The group aims to find ways to boost students’ engagement in campus social life and opportunities to connect with one another, according to the task force’s co-chair JT Batson ’05. These ideas will be based on focus groups with students, feedback from alumni and ideas from peer institutions, according to the group’s website.

The task force’s leadership is comprised of two co-chairs, Batson and Dottie Jones Serure ’16 M.S. ’19, as well as representatives from each undergraduate class: Maya Guzdar ’22, Ecy Femi King ’23, Easha Nandyala ’24 and Andrew Mancini ’25.

For Batson, Stanford’s social scene was part of what made the school feel like home when he was an undergraduate, living thousands of miles from his hometown Augusta, Georgia. Yet many students feel that Stanford’s social life “hasn’t felt as vibrant as it could be,” according to the task force’s website. Batson said he sees the formation of the group as a positive way to remedy this problem.

Stanford’s social scene has experienced a unique type of change in the past few years, mainly due to the pandemic, according to Nandyala. This is a perspective that Nandyala said she feels is shared by many students in her class, and one that she hopes to represent on the task force.

“A lot of sophomores can’t help feeling like we missed out or that we’re operating at 75% right now, especially when you hear from upperclassmen how different their time was,” Nandyala said. “Everyone wants that once-in-a-lifetime experience they can tell their kids about, but I’m hopeful it’s getting better.”

The creation of the task force is “a strong statement that social life on campus is important — that it’s something that faculty, staff, alumni and students and the Board of Trustees value,” Batson said. To him, the task force is an effort to make sure that he and its other members “have a good handle” on both the good and bad aspects of social life on campus. Members of the force also seek to “come up with a plan that we can all believe in and deliver on — that makes Stanford the place where we all want to be,” he added.

The task force hopes to publish a report with recommendations for how Stanford’s social scene can be improved by fall quarter of the upcoming school year, according to Batson. As for what those recommendations will be, “anything is on the table,” Serure said.

Serure said she anticipates that holding focus groups with current undergraduate students and hearing from alumni about their experiences from their time on campus will guide the task force’s findings. She also said she hopes the task force can create a sense of continuity between class years so that traditions can be passed down. She cited as one such tradition the large-scale tailgates hosted by multiple student organizations before home football games when she was an undergraduate.

With a student body as diverse as Stanford’s, the task force expects to hear varied feedback on what to do to improve the campus social scene. Carlos Alcantar ’25, for example, said he hopes more attention is given to Cardinal Nights, which is Stanford’s alcohol- and drug-free social programming.

“I think Cardinal Nights is an opportunity for people of all sorts of backgrounds to just come together,” Alcantar said. “Because it isn’t a party that only attracts the really social kind of people. It just brings out so many new faces that you normally wouldn’t see, and you just get a greater diversity of people.”

The task force encouraged students to share their ideas — interested students can contribute through the group’s Google Form.

Tammer Bagdasarian contributed reporting.

Luc Alvarez ’25 is a Desk Editor for the Science & Technology Desk and Staff Writer for the News Section. A design major originally from Downers Grove, Illinois, he can be found taking in California’s nature while working through CS psets and making niche Spotify playlists. Contact him at lalvarez ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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