In the midst of the controversy surrounding the continued existence of Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ), The Stanford Daily took a look back through its archives to recount FMOTQ history.
While an unofficial start date of the event is unclear, clips of the makeout festival have been traced back to somewhere around the 1940s. FMOTQ was able to establish itself as a popular event on campus in the following years, beginning as a coming-of-age milestone for Stanford women.
“Senior men will have their monthly chance to snow the Farm femmes tonight with the full moon cast its spell over the inner quad,” reads a Daily article titled “Lovers Spoon at Full Moon” published on Oct. 27, 1958. “According to tradition, a Stanford coed becomes a Stanford woman only when she has been kissed by a senior man in the middle of Inner Quad at the stroke of midnight on the night of full moon.”
The event’s popularity grew in the coming years, but a series of pranks called for its discontinuation in 1961. “The whole thing began … when almost 250 freshmen showed up at the Quad, armed with not only balloons but with buckets, hoses and wastebaskets,” a Daily reporter wrote in 1975. “Screaming obscenities, they surrounded the Circle, trying to snatch fledgling women from their dates and running down those who had tried to escape with bicycles and electric carts.” The freshmen turned themselves in, and FMOTQ was discontinued. However, students slowly revived the tradition, and, by 1976, it was back on.
As it has progressed, FMOTQ has become less about Stanford girls becoming Stanford women and more about building an eccentric tradition in which the entire student body could participate. Full Moon photo captions published in The Daily attest to this, including, “Those who wanted it got it at Full Moon on the Quad” from 1998; “Freshman? Senior? Who cares! Stanford students waste no time at Friday’s Full Moon on the Quad” from 2000; and “Full moon fever hit the Quad on Tuesday night, giving campus lips a workout” from 2001.
Controversy concerning alcohol use and sexual misconduct surrounding Full Moon on the Quad has also followed the event’s history. “We are concerned that the University’s efforts to lessen alcohol usage across campus may have backfired, playing a role in the two arrests and at least four hospitalizations that occurred early Friday morning (following the night of FMOTQ),” a reporter wrote in “Full Moon should not die,” an article published in 2003. “But Assistant Dean and Director of Student Activities Nanci Howe said she had serious reservations about Full Moon on the Quad happening again.”
A Daily article from 2002 entitled “Safety should be a priority for Full Moon on the Quad,” also brought attention to the issue of sexual assault. “We feel that it is important that students know that there have been past assaults that resulted from Full Moon on the Quad and that any future assaults will threaten our beloved tradition,” the author wrote.
In 2009, the event was canceled due to an outbreak of the swine flu, and its temporary hiatus led to the reevaluation of what FMOTQ had come to signify as a Stanford tradition. A 2009 editorial, “It’s time to reexamine Full Moon on the Quad,” reads, “Absent this year will be the students routinely hospitalized as the result of overdrinking, the potential sexual abuse that emerge from the events and a reason for ‘creepers’ from the rest of the Bay Area to sneak in to ogle those who participate.” The writer emphasized an opinion that the event had more recently become a spectacle for people outside of the Stanford community, displaying “everything that is chaotic and dirty about college,” as opposed to a unique collegiate tradition.
Despite administrative concerns, many students throughout history have pointed to FMOTQ as one of Stanford’s most celebrated and iconic traditions. “Regardless of how you feel about Full Moon on the Quad,” a reporter writing in 2002 added, “it’s definitely a funny tradition, one that is specific to Stanford culture and one that brings a large intersection of the campus together.”