USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘stanford’
Customs
general
Initiations
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Rituals, festivals, holidays

Full Moon on the Quad at Stanford

My mom went to graduate school at Stanford. This is her interpretation of the “Full Moon On the Quad” Tradition:

Mom:”The original tradition holds that if you are a freshman girl at Stanford, you are not really a Stanford woman until you’ve been kissed by a senior under the full moon on the quad. For decades the story was often told, but the occurrences of these kisses would happen spontaneously – or not. Individual girls would report their initiation into Stanford womanhood with a mix of scandal and pride.”

Me: But is there an actual event where people meet on the Quad?

Mom:”These days, it has become an organized thing. Throngs of upperclassmen wait on the quad while scores of freshman females arrive to be kissed, and kissed again and again by a steady stream of upper class students– most of them strangers. This happens on the first full moon of the fall quarter.There are monitors to insure that consent is being given, there are express lanes for gay, straight, and bisexual preferences and there are even health center advocates who distribute mouthwash to help kill infectious viruses and bacteria being passed mouth to mouth.”

Me: Did you ever think this was an odd tradition for a prestigious school like Stanford to uphold?

Mom: “Yes. There was a saying when I went to Stanford that Stanford women were all either boobless brains or else brainless boobs. (If they were smart they were ugly and vice versa) What an astonishingly sexist tradition. Yet maybe it is no surprise that this is the elite school that also fostered an environment that taught Brock Turner to see rape as an extension of fun and games.”

Analysis: I agree with my mom in that it surprised me to learn that this tradition still exists at Stanford. I wonder how it will change in this generation- where gender, and being a “Stanford woman” may be harder to define. At one point in time, this tradition represented the idea that women must be verified in order to hold some validity on campus. I think that to be a genuine Stanford woman, a person should simply be enrolled at the school.

 

For more on the Full Moon on the Quad Tradition: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/orgy-stanford-freshmen-love-full-moon-quad/story?id=20759670

Customs
Humor
Initiations
Legends
Myths
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Berkeley-Stanford Ax Story

In the late 1800s, there were two universities in the Bay area. One of them was the University of California in Berkeley and the other was a small junior college across the bay founded by the criminal Leland Stanford Junior. These schools had a sports “rivalry.” Basically, each year, Cal would Beat the junior college in track, football, baseball, and other sports. The Junior college were running low on money to fund their failing sports program. They were so desperate that they were considering cutting down their redwood tree mascot. However, before they could, a meteor came down and crashed in the sewage at Stanford. This sewage splashed on the walls of all the buildings of the college. To this day, the buildings are still covered with this excrement which give the buildings at Leland Stanford Junior College their distinctive adobe appearance and smell. The female college students decided to take the meteor to a blacksmith and have it shaped into an ax They would use this ax to rally around during sports games. Only the female Stanford students were strong enough to carry it, and to this day, any male Stanford student who is able to lift the as, all by himself, will be crowned King of Bowdell Hall ( the women’s dorm). Anyway, the Stanfurdians brought this ax to the Cal-Stanford games with no effect. During the first football game with the ax, which Stanfurd naturally lost, some Cal athletes watching the game decided to steal the ax for a trophy. They were pursued by Stanfurd students to San Francisco where the Cal students had decided to get the handle taken off the ax,. There was a crazy pursuit through San Francisco. The police searched all Cal students on their way back to Berkeley through Oakland but were unable to find the ax since a Cal student hid it under an old girlfriend’s skirt. The next year, Stanford almost stole the ax back. Cal was just about to catch the Stanfurdians as they crossed a bridge on their way back to Palo Alto, but the bridge was raised before they could cross it. It was later discovered that the bridge operator was a suma cum laude graduate from the Leland Stanford Junior College Engineering school. It was the best job he could find. Cal and Stanford continued to steal the ax from each other. The robberies grew so intense that the leaders of the respective schools decided that the ax would be awarded to whoever won Big Game each year.

This funny story is told to freshman Berkeley students as a means of initiation. The story gives a history of the school, the Ax tradtion, and it’s age-old rivalry with the nearby Stanford, telling how these things came to be. Any true UC Berkeley student or alumni would be intimately familiar with this story and able to recount it as a member of the Cal community. Often the story is recounted over a bonfire to get students excited for the “Big Game.”

Legends
Narrative

The Botanist

This is a legend the informant tells when reminded of either botany or memories. She learned it at some point while working in the administration of a college (she cannot recall which)

Story:

Okay, so the story is that there was a um… botanist who was a professor at Stanford university, and he became president of the university, and in his inauguration he said that he was going to learn the names off all the students on campus. So, the first few months, he went around campus, shaking hands with all of the students and trying to learn their names and working very hard at it. And then after a few months, his staff noticed that he’d kind of stopped doing that. And, so, they ask him very gently uh “Professor, why have you stopped doing this?” And he says, “Well, I’m a botanist and the trouble is, every time I learned the name of a student, I forgot the name of a plant!”

The informant told the story after I had mentioned that I used to remember certain things that I had since forgotten. She likely told it to inform as to the importance of prioritizing what one memorizes because the mind only has room for so much information.

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