In the early hours of Oct. 20, a group of around 20 freshmen assembled on the Oval, ready to begin the construction of the “Octobunk.” Their plan was to stack eight dorm beds on top of each other in the Oval, making a tower that created a large bunk bed.
Nearly 100 students showed up to observe the event at around 2 a.m. — a combination of people who had heard of the tremendous feat by word-of-mouth, or people who had simply been walking past.
By that point, the organizer of the “Octobunk” construction had already been planning it for weeks. He agreed to speak with The Daily on the condition of anonymity, due to fear of facing disciplinary action by the University.
The organizer had rented a truck, which he picked up at around 4 p.m. that day and parked at a friend’s house near campus. At 1 a.m., the students met in front of Branner and loaded six bed frames and mattresses from a Branner storage room. The other two were beds from students’ dorm rooms — one was his own, and the other belonged to a friend who was hospitalized at the time and had given him permission for it to be used in the “Octobunk.”
At 1:40 a.m., the students arrived at the Oval with the rental truck, unloaded the beds, used a level to find the most horizontal area and began to stack. Shouts of excitement erupted from the crowd as the tower grew taller with each bed. They navigated the growing structure in the dark, illuminated only by a student’s car headlights and the glow emanating from Main Quad.
“We had people who were actually on the tower, pulling up the bunk beds to set them up. There were people on the ground making sure to either hold the structure or to tie the ropes,” said participant Bennett Zytko ’27.
Students cheered and snapped pictures as the eighth and final bed was added to the top of the tower at 3:30 a.m., completing construction of the “Octobunk.”
After completing the build, students climbed up the rungs and sat on the beds, reveling in their accomplishment. Confident in its stability, students daringly climbed to the eighth layer — 28 feet above the ground.
“At the end, about 30 of us hopped on the structure. We took one big group photo, which was great. And then people just took turns climbing the tower,” Zykto said. “The view from the top was so spectacular, I’ll never forget it. And being there with my friends is a memory I’ll never forget, a memory I’ll tell my kids.”
Around 8 a.m. that same morning, the “Octobunk” came crashing down. According to the organizer, Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) staff pushed the structure down, breaking most of the beds before throwing them away.
He had hoped that the “Octobunk” would have been kept up long enough where they could wait until the next night to take it down themselves. “We had a method. We were gonna push it down and hold it with the ropes — we had a strategy.” However, the organizer agreed that it “was the most reasonable way to bring it down” and doesn’t “blame them for taking it down that way.”
The idea of the “Octobunk” came from the simple desire to “just have fun,” the organizer said.
“I knew that a lot of people would find the ‘Octobunk’ stupid and a lot of people would find it pointless,” he said. “But what I really didn’t like was people asking me, ‘What’s the point?’ I thought that that was really emblematic of something I don’t like about Stanford — people here that are so focused on just the ends, they don’t think of just having fun and enjoying the moment and the process.”
Before coming to Stanford, the organizer had read an article in Palladium Magazine about the shift in Stanford’s campus culture, from students being given the freedom to build an island in Lake Lag in the 1990s to “Stanford’s War on Fun.”
“It literally read my mind in terms of my disillusionment with Stanford,” the organizer said. “I wanted to go to this school for so long, since I was 12, and I thought it was the place where all the kids weren’t just trying to climb the system, but rather buck the system.”
However, since reading the article and coming to Stanford, he felt that the administration “was not really encouraging [that type of] contrarian thinking that once made the school so great,” he said.
Prior to the event, there had already been a triple and quadruple stacked bunk in Branner, built by a different frosh resident, which ended up going viral on the anonymous social media app Fizz.
“Those were very spontaneous — that was like a MechE major getting drunk and just putting them together. But the ‘Octobunk’ was me,” said the organizer of the event.
While building, they ran into a few issues, but problem-solved along the way. Due to faulty pins that held the bunks together and an unstable sixth layer, they used ropes to harness the structure to the ground at all four corners, stabilizing the structure.
However, one of his biggest regrets with the “Octobunk” was that the maintenance staff were tasked with taking it down. “They had to risk their safety, wake up early on a Friday morning, and go out to the Oval to clean up our mess. That was a miscalculation,” the organizer said. “I should have figured that Stanford was gonna make them do that.”
As for the consequences of the “Octobunk,” the organizer hoped that “no individuals will be punished.”
According to the Residence Agreement Policies and Procedures, which was shared with The Daily by R&DE spokesperson Jocelyn Breeland, “University-provided interior furniture (e.g. common area and student room furniture) may not be moved outside, including to patios or balconies, for any reason.”
In the case that damage to University property “cannot be attributed to a specific person, the residence is billed and all residents are held jointly and severally liable,” Breeland wrote.
The Daily reached out to the University for comment on the potential repercussions for students and Branner, but they declined to comment on “student conduct cases.”