By Connor Toups
On weekends here on East Campus, you will see a horde of frosh leave their dorms and begin the cold, hard journey to whatever fraternity is hosting an all-campus. I am often among them, wearing far too little in terms of clothing, muttering to myself, “It’s cold out, but I’m still dressing like a thotty ’cause a hoe never gets cold,” à la Cardi B.
As I understand it, these mass migrations occur less often than they once did; numerous articles in The Stanford Daily have lamented the slow death of Stanford’s unique social life, a social life formerly characterized by an abundance of all-campuses, mixers and non-Greek parties for all to enjoy. These articles implicate — correctly, most likely — the administration in this slow death: “In recent years, the administration has played a direct and proactive role in this slow degradation of campus nightlife,” Harrison Hohman wrote for The Daily. The administration seems concerned about dangerous drinking on campus. It’s a noble concern, but the administration has mistakenly responded to these concerns by simply ending social life on campus. Or, more accurately, it has worked to attack Greek life, to create a culture of fear for the organizations that provide the bulk of all-campus social life — the type of social life that characterizes a significant portion of many freshmen’s social lives.
As a freshman on this campus, one who would enjoy a more robust social life and one who also thinks that dangerous drinking constitutes a grave problem for this campus, I ask the University to do something that might seem counterintuitive: Offer more all-campuses. I think we can all recognize that students who want to drink will drink. The 2018 Frosh Survey Results indicate that 70 percent of frosh drink to “have a good time with friends.” That drive, rooted in a desire to share college experiences with those around us who we enjoy most, can not be easily extinguished, nor should it be.
While the University can’t prevent students from drinking, they can — and should — prevent students from drinking to excess, to a point where someone might be in acute danger. In that goal of reducing dangerous drinking, the University should work with students to offer more all-campuses. Offering more al- campuses would actually discourage freshmen from over-drinking, and would encourage a much more moderate drinking culture on campus. Today’s lack of all-campuses encourages freshmen to go especially “hard” when we know for sure that an all-campus is happening; unsure of the next time we will be able to drink at a social event, we want to ensure that we “make the most” of this all-campus. Psychologists or behavioral economists might call this the psychology of scarcity: Scarcity encourages short-term satisfaction over long-term benefits, and it increases the perceived value of whatever is scarce. We normal people call it FOMO, the “fear of missing out.” The relative scarcity of all-campuses encourages poor decision-making, and it increases the perceived value of alcohol-fueled parties, leading more frosh to drink to the point of danger.
That being said, critiques of fraternity parties have extended beyond just alcohol. Critics point out that fraternities are overwhelmingly white, socioeconomically homogenous and, by definition, all male, a combination that many worry promotes a culture of toxic masculinity, sexual objectification and racial intolerance. Without arguing the extent to which such is true at Stanford, it’s clear that there are students who do not feel comfortable with the Greek situation. As such, expanding all-campuses on campus should mean also expanding who consistently hosts all-campuses. Who hosts these parties matters; the vibe at a co-op like EBF is dramatically different than the vibe at a frat like KA or KSig. When we involve women, when we involve people of color, when we involve FLI students in planning social events, those social scenes are more conducive to those communities. Looking to houses — co-ops and self-ops — beyond just Greek houses would involve a more wider population of students and thus create a more inclusive social scene. Students deserve a diversity of social options that reflects the diversity of identities that we have on campus.
As I write this, I cannot help but reminisce on some cherished memories I’ve made here in my short time at Stanford: partying with friends after my first Stanford football game, getting caught in the rain on the way back from EBF, seeing a classmate from my THINK class at a frat party and spending the night getting to know them. The value of these memories, the value of feeling part of a community, the value of a robust social life cannot be understated; it gives us joy, purpose, kinship. However, as I think back to those memories, I am also acutely aware that one foolish night, that a series of poor decisions could rob me, and this community, of someone I love. I know that dangerous drinking can have terrible consequences, and I fear the day that an email arrives in my inbox informing us that a student passed due to alcohol poisoning. It is with both of those recognitions — that a robust social life forms the basis of any cohesive community, and that this community cannot afford to lose a single student to alcohol — in mind that I request the university work to expand the number of all-campuses: Doing so would create a safer, more inclusive, more enriching culture on campus — the kind of culture that this university deserves.
Contact Connor Toups at ctoups22 ‘at’ stanford.edu.