Drain the Stanford Swamp

Drain the Stanford Swamp

On April 20th, the Olive neighborhood, one of Stanford’s eight arbitrarily created housing groups, held an all-campus party where students could “enjoy fine dining, a live band, and a dance floor.” Attendance was lackluster, as only around 100 people showed up over the course of three hours. The kicker? This mild party cost Stanford around $60,000, or $600 per student that attended.

The party was organized by a group of Stanford administrators “in collaboration” with the rest of the Olive neighborhood council, a group of student representatives. The intention was to facilitate a sense of community among students and, implicitly, to push back against the “Stanford hates fun” narrative. It may be unrealistic to expect a frat party-level showout for an admin-led party, but for the amount of money, time, and student input that went into making this a reality, you'd expect at least several hundred people to show up, or at least the very students organizing the event to attend.

As it turns out, student representatives weren't so well represented. They originally had plans for an Ancient Greece-themed party, where people could show up in togas to a field with large columns and other ornamentation, but this harmless idea for a community-bonding event was vetoed because it was deemed to be “culturally insensitive.” Apparently, an Ancient Greece-themed party would implicitly associate themselves with Greek organizations on campus that have a history of being exclusionary.

In competition with other events happening on the same day, including the Holi cultural event, TedX night, and 4/20 activities, an overly doctored recreation of a previously popular celebration simply couldn't compare.

Stanford has over 10,000 administrators, some of whom are responsible for organizing events like this for students. But often, what they're really doing is ensuring students comply with Stanford’s sometimes overly restrictive political correctness. Considering that economies that are centrally planned by bureaucrats and disconnected from citizens in countries like the Soviet Union were ineffective, it is no surprise that parties centrally planned by woke administrators fail to garner significant student engagement.

The issue is, of course, much deeper and more insidious than just wasteful spending on parties for students. These are simply the finances that students have a glimpse into. Imagine what universities like Stanford are spending on other useless bureaucrats, committees, task forces, etc. The dissonance between the Stanford administration and student body is a pervasive issue that has resulted in administrative bloat, as the task of “understanding” and supporting student's sense of community is getting delegated to more and more new staff. 

Silicon Valley giants like Google, Tesla, and Meta recently performed significant layoffs to increase operational efficiency and become more nimble, and Stanford should take note. Instead of throwing more money at the problem and further bloating our cumbersome bureaucracy, we need an administration which can facilitate natural socialization and take it upon themselves as a priority to serve students and, by extension, the future of Stanford. 

Students’ tuition dollars should not be spent on these wasteful, stale events. We must drain Stanford’s administrative swamp to empower an organic and vibrant social scene.

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