Dragon Day at Cornell. The Dartmouth Winter Carnival. Rice’s Beer Bike. Cal Tech’s Ditch Day. Berkeley’s Naked Run.
What does everything on this list have in common? They’re all famous campus traditions. While they don’t quite exemplify the academic rigor of their respective universities, they embody its spirit and history. They give legions of exhausted college students the chance to take a break from their studies, and celebrate their communities. Years after graduation, alumni look back and fondly recall those events as some of the highlights of their college days.
Among the best known of these is our very own Full Moon On The Quad (FMOTQ). For those freshmen who haven’t yet heard of this event, FMOTQ is a Stanford tradition that goes back to 1891 and the inaugural class of the university. It has taken many forms over the years, from simple exchanges of red roses between senior men and freshmen women to its most recent incarnation — a rave where students often make out.
It was that high-charged environment, with a potential for transports, arrests, or even sexual assault, that prompted a great deal of discussion last year about possibly defunding the event. In order to save FMOTQ, the junior class cabinet was forced to make several modifications to “depressurize” the event, and encourage the university to give it another chance.
Last quarter, the Review sat down with junior class presidents Kelsey Page and Catherine Goetze, to discuss exactly what is different about this year’s FMOTQ and what has remained the same from last year.
They confirmed that FMOTQ has been moved from fall quarter to January 12th of winter quarter in order “to give new students time to become more comfortable with the new campus and their own sexuality”. White roses will be handed out at the entrance to all students, which they are free to give away or keep as they please.
As Page and Goetze described,“this is done with the goal of reducing the pressure to make some kind of romantic gesture. It provides students with an alternate, lower stakes means of participating. The purpose of the event is to celebrate Stanford and the students who attend it.”
“Like the NSO event Band Run, FMOTQ this year is intended to be a fun, exciting night centered around campus community.”
There will be no DJ on January 12th, nor will there be a club-like electronic light display. Prior to their suspension by the administration, the Leland Stanford Junior Marching Band was supposed to play everyone in as they entered the event, and play them out as it concluded. At the moment, the class presidents are reaching out to student bands to arrange entertainment. The time frame is also now shorter, ranging from 11:30 to 12:15, instead of going on for several hours, as has been the case in years past. There will be no barricades to lessen traffic in and out of the event, and students are free to enter the Main Quad from any entrance.
The two junior class executives explained, “the reduced timetable and more understated aesthetic does not mean the event will be reduced in scale. We still expect the usual turnout of one to two thousand people, and are planning for an event of that size.”
As usual in the weeks leading up to FMOTQ and in the previous fall quarter, there has been consent programming. The Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse is cosponsoring the event this year. The junior class cabinet plans to speak to residential staff about how to prepare freshmen for FMOTQ, emphasizing not only affirmative consent, but also that they can participate in the new version of FMOTQ as actively (or inactively) as they please. Page and Goetze mentioned that Peer Health Educators in the dorms will lead their students in workshops where they can write a nice note to hand along with the white rose.
There will still be a SHPRC table, but it will not be the first thing students see as they enter the event as it has been in years past. Page and Goetze also disclosed that, “mouthwash will be provided on request as opposed to being displayed on the tables. This is to emphasize that kissing someone there isn’t expected of you. It’s a choice the students are free to make.”
However, by that same token, one must then wonder if RAs handing out condoms in bowls outside their doors is an indication that sex is normalized and expected in the dorm. The space in our residential areas is certainly less pressurized than a wild all campus party, yet the precedent set by this reform would call for a reevaluation of other aspects of sexual education and policy at Stanford from the perspective of normalization. It might also be worthwhile to ask how these policies affect the most recent freshman class’s expectations and understanding of sex at Stanford.
Page and Goetze described that these alterations to FMOTQ have been largely implemented because of administrative and student concerns about an uncomfortable and unsafe environment at FMOTQ. The threat of cancellation remains, and if there is even one transport or an incident of sexual assault, it is certain that the event will be discontinued. The junior class cabinet has planned FMOTQ with those stakes very much in mind because it would be tragic for us to lose completely one of the few traditions that our campus has, and even more tragic still for someone to be seriously hurt this quarter, as has happened in the past.
Some have argued that FMOTQ is in essence training wheels for partying on campus, in regards to teaching both consent and safe drinking habits; administrative oversight creates a safety net for freshmen to explore what is generally an unfamiliar setting for them. I have no doubt that this regulatory system puts checks on potential excesses, and teaches the student body a great deal about consent and how to interact with other students. Yet at the same time, if 20 administrative officials, five Emergency Medical Technicians, 16 police officers, and 40 sober monitors are necessary to keep the event safe, then perhaps we do need to consider what kinds of expectations have been set for FMOTQ in the past years, and that changes might be wise.
Recently, the administration has cracked down on several different aspects of our campus’s culture, most notably by suspending the Stanford band. The band is an important Stanford institution and there are valid reasons to criticize the way the university has handled the situation. But if we want administrative support for our traditions, and want the university to keep us safe from any potential dangers, we inevitably grant them quite a bit of authority in setting policy.
Goetze and Page closed by saying, “we can go to frat parties every week. FMOTQ ought to be something more special and these changes reflect that.”