Originally published in the Stanford Daily as part of a column series known as Adventures in Academia that explored issues related to the Stanford University community.
In this space, I generally focus my energies on education policy, with brief forays into mental health and personal reflection. However, there are times when my complaint box overflows and I have to clear out the backlog. Here are four everyday life issues I feel need most addressing right now at Stanford.
Issue 1: Banning drinking games at Stanford
There has been a movement in recent weeks to ban drinking games in Stanford housing (either in just public lounges or in all rooms in student dorms). I have been informed that the development of this policy comes from the actions of a handful of residents who may imbibe a wee bit much in the early Saturday hours. That situation is a cause for concern, but banning drinking games on campus is a fundamentally incorrect approach to solve the problem.
Stanford's current policy on alcohol can be described as an educational model that focuses on personal responsibility and social norming. The goal is to increase the number of moderate drinkers so that the drinking culture on campus stays reasonably tame. This policy has had great success compared to the prohibition policies of other campuses.
It is deeply disappointing that a policy that has worked reasonably well for many years would be affected by just a handful of irresponsible people. We are adults at this school with personal responsibility to handle ourselves with dignity. Those members who violate that trust should be punished, but their actions should not affect those who are responsible. As a non-drinker, I hope that we can maintain our moderate drinking culture by stopping this poorly conceived policy.
Issue 2: Stealing drinking cups
Stanford's openness also extends to our dining halls, which allow students to take food, trays, utensils and cups back to their rooms as long as they are returned quickly. Lately however, there has been a notable lack of cutlery and beverage-carrying objects in our dining halls, largely a cause of theft and irresponsibility.
There have been discussions that the cups were stolen by a small group of dedicated rogues on campus. That might be the main cause, but they are not the ones who are throwing away thirty or more plates and utensils into my floor's bathroom trash.
To my fellow students: the trays, plates and cups that Stanford Dining provides are the property of the university. If you can get admitted to one of America's top schools, you can figure out the tray return turnstile. Bring those items back for your fellow diners.
Issue 3: Hiding menu items at dining establishments
I learned upon my arrival at Stanford that In-N-Out is the height of California cuisine. While the food is of course delicious, the restaurant is also famous for its spartan menus, behind which belies an extensive array of options including the bizarrely named "Animal Style."
Unfortunately, Stanford Dining has decided that it has to follow the lead of the gourmet restaurant chain by keeping an extensive number of items off the dining menu at major establishments. The Dish menu apparently has more than just sandwiches, and there is an entire unhealthy menu at The Axe and Palm that is not mentioned on the colorful menu posters.
When I am studying late into the night, I do not want to guess at what items are on the menu. Please put out a list with the complete menu - I will probably buy more too.
Issue #4: Housing Move Out Schedules
With Spring Quarter coming to a rapid close, it is time to prepare to move out of my current residence into my new summer home. And when I say prepare, I mean, literally down to the minute as Stanford Housing provides students just two hours to move their belongings across campus.
I know that moving hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of students between dorms is not an easy task logistically. However, asking students to move in a period of 120 minutes seems just a little Herculean. I may be on the right tail of the normal distribution in terms of the amount of junk I have accumulated, but I question just how many students can move all of their belongings across campus in such a short period of time.
It is probably too late to fix the timing this year, but please note this protest - I just need another hour or two.
Posted on May 18, 2010