In what has become a trend at Stanford lately, the rug was pulled out from under yet another tradition for no clear reason. Sigma Chi Nationals has run their “Summer Chi” program for years, which has given students the opportunity to live on campus in a close-knit community over the summer. While students were away over spring break, Stanford axed the program.
According to a press release obtained by the Review, “For several years, [Sigma Chi] has offered Stanford use of the residence in the summer, if Stanford actually needed the housing for a summer program. Stanford has turned down that gracious offer each year, and does so by early February. They have never used the House. This year, the University was given until February 17th. At that time they had no[t] expressed use for it.”
As a result, planning on Summer Chi went ahead. RAs were hired and students reserved rooms in the house. Additionally, “vendors were signed to deliver free breakfast two days a week. Arrangements were made for Saturday barbecues. Planning had begun for weekly student events, all funded by [Sigma Chi].” It is unclear why Stanford would allow this level of planning to happen if they had no intention of allowing Sigma Chi to use the house (that the fraternity built with its own money) this summer.
Colby Clark, one of the RAs, commented on the situation, “We have been working to set up the program and almost 40 students have already reserved rooms in the House. I found out over Spring Break that this great opportunity for students has been canceled. We all are still hoping that the Summer Chi tradition can be saved.” If it is not saved, dozens of students will be forced to scramble to find summer housing—all because the Stanford bureaucracy couldn’t get their act together in time to crush yet another tradition.
Last fall, students protested after university administrators cracked down on social events and banned the Tree. The slogan, “Stanford Hates Fun,” has become the new motto of students upset with what they perceive as the university’s “war on social life.” The move to quash yet another fraternity event and tradition proves that this targeting is real and active.
In just the past few years, Stanford has made drastic changes to its undergraduate social scene by strategically censoring social events at fraternities and sororities. After beginning the rollout of the new ‘neighborhood’ system last fall, which requires students to live in one of eight neighborhoods throughout all four years, the University put a dozen Greek organizations on probation for nebulous reasons in the spring. When students returned to campus from the pandemic, they were met with a radically diminished dorm and social life at Stanford. The lockdowns created an opportunity for greater crackdown and overhaul of social life on campus, one which Stanford bureaucrats did not allow to go to waste.
There is also a symbolic element to the move. To the best of our knowledge, Summer Chi was the last vestige of outside control of on-campus housing. With its cancellation, due to the vast swaths of land controlled by Stanford and its sprawling campus, anyone who wants to live anywhere close to Stanford’s campus must now play by Stanford’s increasingly draconian rules.
This is also not the first time that the Stanford administration has responded to the Sigma Chi house in a seemingly inappropriate way. In 2017, before the fraternity was kicked off campus, the Review reported that “an administrator encouraged Sigma Chi to take down the American flag flown in front of its house in order to improve its image on campus.” As is clear to anyone who walks by the house—now renamed 550 Lasuen—the American flag no longer flies outside. The intimidation tactic worked, and it looks like Stanford is merely back for more.
As for the response, the Summer Chi students and RAs plan to push back. “An organizational event had been planned for this Friday for those students who had reserved their housing spots. According to organizers, that event will go forward Friday at the Historic Sigma Chi House at 6:30 p.m. It will now be a ‘Save Summer Chi’ rally. A taco truck will serve free tacos until they run out.” How the university will respond is yet to be seen.