Despite advertising itself as a university that values diversity, equity, and inclusion on official websites and recruitment materials, students of color at Stanford often have a difficult time finding spaces where we actually feel included. Historically, students of color have have experienced violence and racism on this campus, necessitating safer, more inclusive spaces for these students. Recognizing a need for spaces dedicated specifically to center the experiences and healing of students from historically marginalized communities navigating Stanford, students advocated for the Ethnic Community Centers and Ethnic Theme Dorms we have today. The four Ethnic Theme Dorms (Muwekma, Okada, Casa Zapata, and Ujamaa) serve as spaces where students of color know that they will not only be included, but will be celebrated for their diverse backgrounds with an opportunity to engage critically in issues that affect communities of color. Ethnic Theme Associates (ETAs) serve as pillars of the Ethnic Theme Dorms, cultivating a community that engages in academic discourse, dialogue across difference, and the unpacking of political issues with personal ramifications. For us, these conversations are not just abstract academic concepts — they are discussions about, and informed by, our very own lived experiences. Given the normalization of racism and intolerance in today’s political climate, our communities are under attack more than ever, and the very existence of our ETA position and our dorm communities have been questioned and invalidated.
Monied clusters of Greek organizations, geographically segregated ethnic houses, and nepotistic, thematically-lifeless Row houses plague Stanford’s housing system, bemoan University administrators. Stanford has consequently adopted the belief that a vast overhaul of campus housing is the cure-all for these ills: the University’s ResX Task Force — a branch of Residential Education (ResEd), has recently been discussing what they call “the ideal neighborhood concept.” Substantive details on this proposed housing restructure are scarce. Nonetheless, we believe it would be useful to infer what the consequences of such systematic changes might be.
As part of Stanford’s ongoing Long-Range Planning process, the ResX Task Force has been working to develop a series of recommendations for improving residential life that will be presented to Provost Persis Drell at the end of fall quarter.
The demands of the Who’s Teaching Us movement has brought increased attention to the pay and working conditions of Ethnic Theme Associates, a kind of student dorm staff.
When Veronika Heckova ‘07 moved into her room in the four-class dorm Okada in 2003, she never expected that the person living next door, Albert Wu ‘04, would one day become her life and business partner.
The pre-assignment process received over 876 completed applications for the 2013-14 academic year.
At Stanford, there are four ethnic themed houses: Casa Zapata; Ujamaa, the African-American themed house; Okada, the Asian-American themed house; and Muwekma-Ta-Ruk, the Native American themed house.