Tag Archives: Stanford woman

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

Stanford Tradition

The informant is a caucasian female in her 50s. She was born in Southern California to an upper middle class family. The informant was raised presbyterian, but now professes to follow no religion. She attended Stanford University and then settled back in Los Angeles. She works part-time as a high school drama teacher. The informant is married with one child.

The informant learned about this tradition from her mother, who also attended Stanford University. As a freshman, the informant decided to act out the tradition. She asked a senior, whom she had never met before, if he would participate in the ritual with her. She dressed up in romantically ripped clothes, wore ribbons in her hair, and gathered a group of her friends to join her, witness the ritual, and take pictures. She planned to send a picture to her mother as a joke. While she did get the picture taken, she never actually kissed the senior while under the arch, because she was too nervous to do so in public. This, however, resulted in her meeting her future husband. The two married within a year of this event and have been together for over 30 years.


There is a Stanford tradition that a woman going to the school can become an official “Stanford” woman by being kissed by a Stanford boy in his senior year under the Memorial Arch, in front of the Memorial Church, under the fool moon, at midnight. The woman can participate in the ritual at any point in her academic career but the man must be a senior.

Analysis: This story has become a legend in the informant’s family. The tradition itself is interesting, as it was passed down through a generation, but the informant’s individual experience has become the most important as it is the story of how she met her husband. Her performance of this story is interesting as it changes every time she tells it, depending on the audience and situation. When she started telling this story to her young daughter, she downplayed the sexual aspect and focused on the tradition and chance meeting of her husband. To friends the informant focuses on the ridiculousness of her ripped and beribboned garb and her audacity at asking an an older, complete stranger to kiss her in front of an audience. The informant is an active bearer, constantly telling stories. She is generally called upon to entertain at gatherings with her stories. Probably a contributory factor of her success as a bearer of lore is her ability to adapt stories to audiences and situations. Her variations on stories also mean that her audience can hear the same story more than once without becoming bored and that she can retell the same story with animation, as it is actually a slightly different story with each telling.