Tradition – Stanford University

Stanford – Full Moon on the Quad

When incoming freshmen enter Stanford University, they are greeted with open arms.  Everything is arrayed in order to make their transition as easy as possible.  However, after a couple months, they are presented with an occasion which they may not be so comfortable with.  Usually taking place around October, the “Full Moon on the Quad” event draws hundreds of participants.  Freshman must wear name tags and line up in the quad.  Upperclassmen who choose to participate then get to kiss them.  Other activities may then ensue, though they are not condoned by the school, which for the most part chooses to look the other way with regards to this event.

My girlfriend Amie told me this interesting tradition at Stanford University.  She is from Southern California, Carson, in particular, and as such had no prior knowledge of this tradition before she enrolled in Stanford.  Coming from the same high school and living in the same general area, I was completely ignorant of the tradition as well.  I have talked to others my age who had lived within ten miles of the university all my life and they had heard nothing of it.  So, it seems to be a mostly Stanford-exclusive tradition, with the exception of a few unwelcome older individuals from the neighboring cities.  Amie noted that when she went there were numerous “creepers” which made her uneasy.  These were mostly older men, who by their behavior and appearance it was apparent that they were not Stanford students.  These outsiders were not supposed to be in attendance; however they had heard that a couple hundred eighteen and nineteen year olds were lining up ready to be kissed.  Whether it was sexual excitement or just mere curiosity, Amie reported that there were enough of them to make both her and her friends uneasy.

Amie explained that the event is rooted in the idea of the initiation or even hazing of newcomers.  The freshmen, not knowing anything in particular about the university, are introduced to their first “exclusive” Stanford event when they all attend this.  Here, they are more or less placed at the mercy of the older students, or as Amie noted, placed at the mercy of anybody pretending to be and older student.  Though it is not strictly enforced, the freshmen are supposed to let any of the older individuals kiss them.  This can understandably lead to uncomfortable situations for the freshmen.  She remembers somebody saying that this event was initially an underground sort of gathering which was eventually discovered by the university and adopted as a legitimate event.  While the university acknowledges it, it turns a blind eye to most of the event’s happenings.

Though they are in effect being hazed, the freshmen for the most part were eager and receptive.  Amie said that everybody she knew was open to the idea and nearly all of them were excited.  Perhaps this is because, although they are essentially being placed at the mercy of strangers for a night, they feel that this is the first step into becoming a true member of the Stanford community.  This excitement often leads to excessive drinking prior to the event.  Gullible drunken freshman coupled with strangers looking to kiss attractive youngsters inevitably leads to trouble.  It will suffice to say that many freshmen woke up the following morning full of remorse over their actions the previous night.