Vice Provost for Student Affairs, ASSU Executives Weigh In On FMOTQ
by The Editorial Board
Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Greg Boardman, submitted this letter to the Editor:
I am writing to set the record straight about a number of points made in your March 2nd article.
First, what Brandon Hill read to the Senate was a draft of something I have been considering. As a first step in consulting with student leaders, I reached out to Brandon and John-Lancaster Finley two weeks ago about ongoing concerns surrounding Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ), asking for their thoughts and feedback.
Second, over several discussions with Brandon and John-Lancaster, we agreed that the ASSU could be a leader in spearheading a discussion with students about problems with FMOTQ and the possibilities for creating a new tradition to replace FMOTQ, supported by both students and the administration.
The Daily article quotes Brandon as saying he is “not for cutting ritual and tradition without kind of thinking about what else we can do.” I couldn’t agree more, and my draft states as much. While I do not support FMOTQ and what it has become, I also want to work with students to create something new and exciting, one that is inclusive, safe and fun and one that the university can support administratively and financially.
Traditions are important to all communities; and I understand that Stanford has many traditions that are loved and cherished, that create many fond memories of the time spent on the Farm. However, traditions should also be challenged and changed when they cease to represent the values of the community, as well as its needs.
FMOTQ is not the tradition it once was. It started out as a way for senior men to welcome first-year women by giving them roses (of course, even in the beginning FMOTQ was grounded in a paternalism that favored heterosexual relationships). Over time, this tradition has changed into an event that, frankly, results in non-consensual behavior, medical emergencies and undue social stress and anxiety. It is time to rethink FMOTQ and what it has come to stand for at Stanford.
Challenging traditions is not new at Stanford. With every class I work with, I see students questioning the past and creating new customs and practices that more accurately reflect the values of the collective. And I am proud of the students who change the course of tradition and history and create new rituals and new meaning.
I invite the ASSU and the student body to work with me to come up with a new tradition and ritual that represents the values of our community of inclusivity, diversity and respect.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
ASSU Executives John-Lancaster Finley and Brandon Hill submitted this letter to the editor:
Dear Stanford fam,
Our school is known for its unique culture and the vibrancy of student life on campus. A number of traditions contribute to this Stanford way of life, including one of our most famous rituals–Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ).
FMOTQ has been a Stanford tradition in one form or another, and it has certainly evolved over time. Recently, there has been discussion between various stakeholders in the administration about reaffirming Stanford’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, safety, and mutual respect. As you may be aware, over the past several years there have been fairly consistent reports of sexual assault, incidents of over-intoxication, and cases of non-consensual behavior at FMOTQ. And in the context of Stanford’s values, the future of FMOTQ has come into question by many people.
I also want to clarify a misunderstanding that happened at the undergraduate senate meeting on Tuesday at which this discussion was held. It was originally reported by campus publications that the university had made an official decision to discontinue FMOTQ entirely. While there is certainly a strong leaning from Student Affairs and other parts of the administration to no longer support FMOTQ, I want to clarify that what was originally printed was incorrect–the decision to terminate FMOTQ has not been made. I credit the Stanford Daily and Stanford Review for updating their stories to reflect this point.
Administrators who have thought about this issue have called for us as a campus community to reimagine a new tradition in place of FMOTQ that is safer, more inclusive, and more representative of our values as a campus community.
As for where we stand, John-Lancaster is confident that we as a campus community can do better than FMOTQ in celebrating our collective identity and values. I personally have enjoyed the positive aspects of the tradition every time I have been–fellowship, quirkiness, high spirits. And I believe that the combination of those social themes in general have made the undergraduate Stanford experience so special. That said, John-Lancaster and I believe in the creative force of Stanford students and don’t think that it’s impossible that with proper support we all could imagine a better, safer tradition.