Arbor reopening rekindles campus nightlife

Oct. 16, 2022, 9:55 p.m.

Tresidder Memorial Union was illuminated with outdoor lights that hung above a lively crowd of over a hundred during The Arbor’s first trivia night event of the year Thursday.

The Arbor, a student-run outdoor bar open to students of all ages, has been a staple of campus nightlife for three years after its opening in fall 2019. After a year-long hiatus during the pandemic, the bar, known affectionately to students as “Barillaga,” reopened to students last spring. The outdoor bar’s first live performance of the school year took place on Oct. 7. 

From 7 to 10 p.m., students can enjoy live music performances from independent Stanford artists on Fridays and trivia night on Thursdays at Tresidder Memorial Union. The outdoor bar is closed during the colder winter quarter.

Alcoholic beverages are available to those over 21, but students of all ages are able to purchase pizza, soft drinks and other food from Treehouse and CoHo. 

“The Arbor is just a nice place to sit outside with your friends and have a chill drink,” said Jared Poblete ’23, the bar’s communications lead. “No ragers are going on at The Arbor, it’s just a nice place to sort of wind down for the night.” 

This relaxed scene provides an alternative for students, who have expressed frustration with what some see as the lackluster social life on campus in the fourth academic year touched by the pandemic. 

Some students said the campus party scene is muted compared to previous years on campus or in their hometowns. 

Aditi Limaye ’23 remembered a more accessible party scene on campus before the pandemic. This year, she said the nightlife “has been pretty lackluster. I feel like a lot of frats have taken their parties off campus.” 

In addition to providing an appealing nightlife activity, students go to The Arbor for the opportunity to eat, drink, spend time with friends and “the allure of cash prizes,” said Brian Lin ’24. 

During trivia night, the announcers were set up on the raised foundation in front of Treehouse, using microphones to announce questions, with every table below them filled.

Three rounds of trivia took place, each with 10 questions of a different theme, such as pop culture and Stanford facts. Winners were announced at the end of the three rounds, and the first-place winner of each round received a prize. 

Daisy Ford ’26 said she appreciated the pub-like atmosphere of the Arbor. Ford is an international student from England, where pubs are common in student nightlife. 

“Coming from England, [nightlife on campus] is quite weird,” Ford said. “It’s just a very different drinking culture and party culture. In England they have pubs.”

The Arbor is the closest thing to a pub on campus, Ford added, which attracted Ford and her friends, who found out about the event through emails from the Office of Student Engagement. 

About halfway through the trivia night, Ford and her friends began making plans to return the following week, next time with “a bigger group of people because we need to get more answers [correct],” Ford said.

Students said the Arbor’s reopening gives them a place to go on slow nights, and they’re glad to have the opportunity.

“Some of those trivia nights get way more teams than I expect,” Poblete said. “We get nervous at the start, we usually say, ‘Oh we should shut down,’ [but then] we wait one minute and every seat in Tresidder courtyard is filled.”

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