The typical loud cheers and cardinal red Stanford shirts filled the student section during Saturday’s football game against Washington State. But this time, many of the shirts and chants had little to do with the actual game. Instead, students were adorned in shirts that all read the same message: “Stanford Hates Fun.”
“Stanford Hates Fun,” a student-led movement, protested Friday and Saturday in solidarity with the 44th Stanford Tree, Jordan Zietz ’24, and called on Stanford to improve social life on campus.
Zietz was suspended from his role as the Stanford Tree after unfurling a banner that read “Stanford Hates Fun” at the Oct. 22 homecoming football game.
According to the people behind the movement, the protests were coordinated on Fizz, an anonymous social media platform for Stanford students. Representatives of Stanford Hates Fun, who declined to provide their names, wrote in a statement to The Daily that they are calling for a simplified process to register small student parties and changes to the alcohol policy, and broadly the restoration of “the houses, traditions, events and programs that made life at Stanford zesty and memorable.”
They also requested more resources for self-governance and a habeas corpus policy for student organizations on probation. Stanford Hates Fun also created a petition calling on the University to reinstate Zietz, which has gained 725 signatures.
Zietz wrote that he believes the Band’s decision to suspend him did not come from the students but the band director.
University spokesperson Dee Mostofi wrote that both the band director and students on the executive committee can suspend members. “The band’s student leaders decided to suspend this year’s Tree for the remainder of fall quarter, applying principles articulated in their internal rules and standards of participation,” Mostofi wrote in a statement to The Daily.
Some students connected the protest of the Tree’s suspension to administrative shifts within the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB), which they say concentrates power in the hands of the director and executive committee.
“The suspension of the Tree is a singular element in a long standing battle between band members and what we feel is the destruction of our community and our abilities for free expression,” said Ky Friedman ’23, a LSJUMB member.
Grayson Armour ’22, the 43rd Tree of the LSJUMB and Zietz’s replacement until January, compared his return to “riding a bike… not really forgettable.” Along with the tree costume, Armour wore a “Stanford Hates Fun” shirt.
Outside the stadium on Saturday, volunteers passed out free shirts that read “Stanford Hates Fun” and “Free The Tree.” Students said they noticed an increased security presence at Saturday’s game, from Menlo Park Police and Apex Security Group.
As chants ensued during halftime, some students held up a banner that read, “Stanford Hates Fun.” Apex Security guards attempted to take the sign but after booing from the crowd, allowed students to keep the banner. When asked about the incident, the Apex Security guards declined to comment.
Carl Schoeller ’23, who was wearing a toga labeled “Free the Tree,” said he was turned away from the game by gate security. Schoeller said a director of security told him they didn’t want him to “disrupt the game” and that they didn’t know what was under his clothing.
Schoeller said his removal from the stadium “felt like a policy made up on the spot without any backing behind it.”
Stanford Hates Fun criticized the actions of security in a Saturday statement. Students were “restricted from entering the football game with signs and banners … regardless of size and format,” according to the statement. Banners are not currently included on the list of items banned from Stanford Athletics facilities.
Mostofi wrote that while banners are “not specifically called out” on the list of banned items, “fan signage has been prohibited at all of Stanford Athletics’ ticketed venues for many years,” and that “security and event staff have consistently worked to prevent the entrance of all signage at the Stanford Stadium and to remove” any signs displayed.
Stanford Hates Fun described the presence of armed police and Apex Security as “significantly higher than usual games.” They also expressed concern over students being asked “to partially remove their shirts to confirm that they weren’t carrying any signage under their shirts, most of whom had no signage.”
They argued that this amounts to a violation of Stanford’s free speech obligations under California’s Leonard Law. They plan “on following up through the appropriate legal channels.”
Hannah Kenneth ’25, a student who attended the game wearing a “Stanford Hates Fun” shirt, said the University doesn’t “understand at all what the students need” and that they are making “a really hostile environment for all of us.”
A few members of the LSJUMB kept “Stanford Hates Fun” signs on their instruments. Some members also boycotted performances at the game.
Mostofi wrote in an earlier statement that the University was working with the Social Life Accelerator Task Force, which put together 12 short-term recommendations to improve social life and are currently developing more long-term recommendations.
Short-term actions include providing $3,000 grants to Row Houses to support event planning efforts, hiring student interns to help promote and program social life on campus and collaborating with students to re-implement Stanford traditions like the Band Run, Mostofi wrote.
Some students also participated in a protest on Friday. Despite Fizz posts about the first protest receiving over 600 upvotes on the platform, only 13 students gathered on Main Quad.
Stanford Hates Fun said students “felt uncomfortable protesting in such a public place during the normal school day.”
Students who attended the Friday protest passed out signs with various slogans, including “Stanford Hates Fun” and “Cancel Cancel Tree Culture.”
“All in all I just wanted a free shirt that just said ‘Stanford Hates Fun,’” said Isaac Yi ’26, who attended Friday’s protest. “I just support the message, and that’s why I’m here.”
Some critics said that the movement detracts from other social justice protests on campus, though others note they are not mutually exclusive.
Chris Rilling ’22, who works with Fossil Free Stanford, wrote that campus protests aren’t “a zero-sum game.” He added that he would “love to see the Stanford Hates Fun campaign introduce new folks to a culture of social engagement.”
Schoeller said that his toga, along with other students who painted their body green or attempted to bring in a live fir tree into the game, exhibited uniquely Stanford qualities.
“Quirkiness is kind of a staple of Stanford culture,” Schoeller said. “We want to show the uniqueness of every Stanford student, but admin is trying to systematically put us into boxes, and kind of have this ‘one size fits all’ Stanford student experience.”
This article has been updated with comment from the University.