Palladium Archive: Stanford's War on Social Life
How Palladium helped fun strike back at Stanford
Nearly a year ago, Palladium correspondent Ginevra Davis published a viral article on Stanford University’s war on fun. It detailed the university bureaucracy’s increasingly ham-fisted attempts to restrict the colorful student life that gave the school its character, enabling the success of its graduates.
At first it began with sanctioning the practical jokes the school band performed at games. Then the university targeted fraternity houses. But it did not stop there—the administration later tried to shut down all self-organizing, concentrating student social life within the confines of its own artificial constructions such as geographically non-specific “neighborhoods” named after every letter in “Stanford.”
To ensure all the neighborhoods were truly equal, Stanford also had to remove student groups that were too popular or differentiated. As Greek life had declined in the late 2010s, Stanford’s social scene shifted to a group of four European theme houses clustered near the upper Row. The French and Italian houses, in particular, were known for hosting elaborate white-tablecloth dinners for upperclassmen with pizza and crepes. Those had to go. In fact, they all did, German and Slavic too. Without so much as an email, Stanford quietly slashed all four houses overnight. The first three were renamed 610, 620, and 650, respectively.
“Stanford’s War on Social Life” was widely read, and the article led to fun striking back at the university—it contributed to the momentum that helped grassroots student organizations challenge the university’s policies. David Brooks of the New York Times would later include Ginevra’s article in the annual Sidney Awards.
We urge all Palladium readers to put in the hard work to create their own organizations and interest groups to solve the problems they see around them.
Here’s what’s been on the front page lately:
ESG Is the Opium of the Investors by Nicolas Villarreal. ESG has created a luxury good out of symbolic pro-social investing. In practice, it mainly replicates consensus ideology. Those who want to go beyond it must act directly on the world.
Britain Is Dead by Samuel McIlhagga. Despite its early industrial dominance, Britain’s elites never managed to adapt to the new landscape of power. After more than a century of structural breakdown, its very future as a unified state is in doubt.
Entrepreneurial Statecraft Gets the Goods by Wolf Tivy. You don’t reshape society by starting a cultural movement. Instead, you need to implement direct action materialism.
Who Is the Art World For? By David Gelland. Art today often aims to shock rather than inspire. How did that change happen?
The Smallest Living Things, A Short Film. The health of the smallest living things is necessary for the survival of all life on Earth. This short film, directed by Charles Abelmann, tells the story of one self-made farmer’s quest to care for microbiomes—and call out the abuse of antibiotic overuse in livestock and people.
That’s all for now.