I am writing to set the record straight about a number of points made in your March 2 article, “ASSU Senate talks University defunding FMOTQ.”
First, what Brandon Hill read to the Senate was a draft of something I have been considering. As a first step in consulting with student leaders, I reached out to Brandon and John-Lancaster Finley two weeks ago about ongoing concerns surrounding Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ), asking for their thoughts and feedback.
Second, over several discussions with Brandon and John-Lancaster, we agreed that the ASSU could be a leader in spearheading a discussion with students about problems with FMOTQ and the possibilities for creating a new tradition to replace FMOTQ, supported by both students and the administration.
The Daily article quotes Brandon as saying he is “not for cutting ritual and tradition without kind of thinking about what else we can do.” I couldn’t agree more, and my draft states as much. While I do not support FMOTQ and what it has become, I also want to work with students to create something new and exciting, one that is inclusive, safe and fun and one that the university can support administratively and financially.
Traditions are important to all communities; and I understand that Stanford has many traditions that are loved and cherished, that create many fond memories of the time spent on the Farm. However, traditions should also be challenged and changed when they cease to represent the values of the community, as well as its needs.
FMOTQ is not the tradition it once was. It started out as a way for senior men to welcome first-year women by giving them roses (of course, even in the beginning FMOTQ was grounded in a paternalism that favored heterosexual relationships). Over time, this tradition has changed into an event that, frankly, results in non-consensual behavior, medical emergencies and undue social stress and anxiety. It is time to rethink FMOTQ and what it has come to stand for at Stanford.
Challenging traditions is not new at Stanford. With every class I work with, I see students questioning the past and creating new customs and practices that more accurately reflect the values of the collective. And I am proud of the students who change the course of tradition and history and create new rituals and new meaning.
I invite the ASSU and the student body to work with me to come up with a new tradition and ritual that represents the values of our community of inclusivity, diversity and respect.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs