Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

No Free Lunch: Because Offices Can Go Anywhere

It’s no secret that living on the Row has its perks. Location wise it can’t be beat, and when it comes to the campus social scene, you’re in the center of nearly everything. From frat parties, to Wednesday nights at EBF or Kairos, to parties at Casa and Xanadu, to Exotic Erotic at 680 or hanging out around Columbae’s fire pit — most of the campus social scene seems to be focused around the Row.

 

This might simply be because of the location; maybe if you tore down all of the Row and replaced it with Suites, the space would be just as social and energetic, but we think there’s something else at play. Just living in a house makes a difference — eating, cooking and cleaning with your housemates in co-ops and self-ops create a stronger sense of community and promote the urge for fun.

This energy is one of the great things about Stanford. Not that there is anything wrong with wanting a quieter corner of campus and not that other dorms and locales around Stanford don’t throw down as well, but the Row taken as a whole contributes hugely to Stanford’s ability to be a fun, social and energetic campus. We pride ourselves on that, on our ability to excel at one of the best research universities in world while still knowing when to put aside the problem-set, open up a beer (or age-appropriate EANAB) and celebrate going to school here.

So it follows that these houses are among the most sought-after assignments in the world of Stanford housing. Places like Mars and Xanadu are typically filled with those who received low tier-one draw numbers, and there was more than a 36 percent increase in those trying to pre-assign into co-ops this year.  Housed sororities and fraternities are in high demand, and some of the un-housed Greek organizations would give many members’ left arms for a house of their own — it’s common knowledge that Chi Omega has been, and is, fighting tooth and nail for a house of their own.

Given all of this, it seems obvious that the University should do all that it can to promote a vibrant Row life. It is in high demand and serves as the social epicenter of campus. So why, over the years, has the number of Row houses been limited? Ask anyone who was here in the 60’s and 70’s about the Row and — Animal House style stories aside — there were simply more student residences. The answer is pretty simple: as the University grew, and there was demand for new space, tradeoffs had to be made. Row houses were converted to office space or demolished altogether. This is understandable, but considering the constant rhetoric on campus about student housing and strong residential communities, it seems like these would have been treated more like actual priorities.

For instance, why is the Row Office located in the Lausen Row Center, a beautiful house in a prime location at the bottom of the upper Row? They keep a plant in a shower because nobody uses it anymore, and what once were residential rooms have been hastily transformed into offices — offices that could be located anywhere on campus. Any student on campus would gladly choose to walk or bike a few more minutes whenever they had to visit the Row housing office in exchange for a few more beds on the Row.

The same goes for Serra House (the Clayman Institute for Gender Research), Mariposa House (the Faculty and Staff Help Center) and Rogers House (the Bridge Peer Counseling Center), all located across from FloMo, where Mayfield turns. The Bridge has a legitimate reason for wanting to be near a population center on campus, but the others could easily be moved to less residential areas without a hit to their productivity. Even the Bechtel International Center — right across from FloMo if you, like the majority of campus, have never been there — would be an excellent location for student housing.

And what exactly to put in any or all of these new houses? Let the students decide. Do we want more theme houses, co-ops, Greek houses or general Row houses? If we did it right, we could have one of each and bring more students towards the center of campus.

The University needs to realize something — all of these resource centers and accessible services etc. are great, but in terms of our lives, they are trivial compared to who we live with, what the atmosphere at lunch and dinner is and who the person down the hall is. We should be using the limited space we have on the Row in the smartest way possible. After all, offices can go anywhere.

 

To apply to live in re-repurposed Row office space, Contact Dave (daveg4@stanford.edu) or Zack (zhoberg@stanford.edu)