It’s Time for Us to Grow Up, Collectively Organize, and Fight Back: Protecting XOX (and yourself) from Stanford’s “Era of Infantilization”

by Luke Wigren, ’11

Author’s note: This is necessarily long. Grab a cup of tea, and take this essay in at your leisure. Just make sure you take it in.

In the 1960s, before the Student Free Speech Movement took hold at UC Berkeley, it was commonly understood that major universities had become host to governmental biddings for nuclear weapons research and other forms of Cold War muscle flexing. Education was seen as a central component in outpacing the Soviet Union’s military and economic power, and so, for a period, schools became the front lines in what administrators narrowly conceived of as their new mission: to aid in the nation’s “production, distribution, and consumption of knowledge.” In this “Knowledge Industry,” classrooms became assembly lines and, as UC Berkeley activist Mario Savio famously claimed, students were seen as little more than the passive “raw material.”

However, by the end of the Free Speech Movement, students (many of whom, I should mention, had been first introduced to activism and came of age working on interracial, cross-class campaigns within the Civil Rights Movement) succeeded in overturning this dehumanizing vision on the role of our educational system, striking a blow to the era’s stifling conservatism, and gaining invaluable rights for political demonstration on the college campus. More symbolically, the movement achieved recognition that college students were not just inert human beings, but rather, capable and confident agents of change. This important series of victories, as researched by Stanford Professor of Sociology, Doug McAdam, allowed for continued freedom struggles to take root on campuses throughout the 1960s and early 1970s from Anti-Vietnam War organizing, to feminism and queer liberation.

But, while students in the 1960s may have triumphed against student dehumanization, I believe we are now recognizing a new symbolic threat. That is, we find ourselves in the “Era of Infantilization.” Here at Stanford, we are not safe from institutionalized infantilism and, in fact, may find ourselves to be at its heart, especially due to our school’s recent history in the pockets of corporate America and in bed with Silicon Valley – two industries that make a habit (and a profit) treating their consumers like cartoon-addicted junkies and fruit roll-up obsessed four year olds.

I ask you to consider, first, how our campus culture has adopted “infantilism” into our language and social imagination. Think about the quaint, joking comparisons of Stanford to Disneyland, or students and professors likening our campus to a “bubble” – the latter which has always struck me, a little eerily, as resembling the womb. Think about the larger bubble of Palo Alto, the fro-yo, the pro-fros, the co-ho, and the way you always feel like you’re going a little farther than mom and dad said you could when you cross the 101 into East Palo Alto to get your Ikea furniture. There does seem to be a definite tendency for students here to solemnly recognize, yet be perfectly content with, this fuzzy, intoxicatingly gleeful, but awfully disconnected, reality.

We live in a place where no spill goes uncleaned and our biggest crises are what to wear to Exotic Erotic. And, because of this, some have argued that we are indifferent. However, it seems more correct to suggest, rather, that we are hyper-insulated and thus unable to become truly, viscerally critical of the very pressing world issues of our time – issues such as our nation’s perpetual foreign occupations, virulent racism in the form of anti-immigrant sentiment, and runaway corporate greed, creating enormous concentrations of not only wealth, but land and resources, in what has become a kind of global feudal slavery.

I guess, with all that in mind, I can’t blame us. Who wouldn’t want to be five years old again, at least for a little while – say like four years – to be able to ignore the endemic social injustice in our economic and political systems? Still, isn’t it a little disturbing to think that we simultaneously want to be future leaders?

Now, before I get on a tangent, I would like to guide your attention to cooperative home Chi Theta Chi’s (XOX’s) current situation and a new perspective that all is not well here in the “happiest place of higher-education on earth.” See, if Stanford is a Disneyland, and its palm tree studded bubble is an unwalled magical kingdom, then I believe that inhabiting its campus-loop moat are students increasingly in a state of intellectual serfdom, where, being unable to find shared ownership over an ounce of land or even the walls of our dorm rooms, our relationships with each other and with our very own decision making has been co-opted (no pun intended) by bureaucratic forces within the university, namely ResEd and Student Affairs. Going beyond what Karl Marx describes as industrial capitalism’s “alienation of labor,” under these hyper-restrictive, yet seemingly free environments, we come to an even more devastating total alienation of ourselves from our very own desires and companionship.

After the tumult of the 1960s on college campuses, it may be that those in power learned their lesson not to be quite so contentious or blunt in their repressions of student grievances and demonstrations. The status quo, it turns out, is much better guarded by devising an illusion of freedom and conditioning people to accept it. Why waste energy breaking student protests, occupations, and highly publicized sit-ins, when you can work less hard over a longer period of time, to convince every student that they would be crazy to want life any other way. At Stanford and most elite colleges, we responsibly handle the repression of self, ourselves, these days, as we are persuaded into thinking that buffet-style dining halls, buildings permanently (and repeatedly) under-construction, a nearly invisible low-wage cleaning staff, year-round green grass, and spacious living quarters are the acceptable norm. At the same time, somewhere along the way, we also got the idea in our head that occupations and strikes are a waste of our precious time and that, if we really want to change the world for the better, we should go work behind a desk at an NGO.

Still, even if you don’t subscribe to any of these beliefs, and recognize the truth that no freedom struggles throughout history have ever been won without massive collective actions and grassroots community organizing, it’s hard not to be buttered up when you hear over and over, “You deserve it! You deserve it all!” But behind all the fanfare, if one listens closely, what we really hear Stanford ingraining into our heads is the phrase, “We know what’s best for you!” It burrows deep into our subconscious, so deeply in fact, that we begin to believe it, allowing the university to assume a lulling power of paternalism over us which promotes the mute passivity to which we have become accustomed.

The university’s invasive behaviors, aimed at manufacturing consensus, are nowhere near as alarming as at XOX, which now – even after working congenially with Student Affairs and disproving ResEd’s deceptive claims of “pressing life safety issues” – has received confirmation after closed door negotiations, that they remain intent on terminating the lease. The administration’s behavior, we must now recognize clearly, is seizure of alumni-owned property, and no “two year interim period” can cover up that fact, nor can we excuse their unwarranted abuse of our lease agreement in the first place.

Furthermore, the more recent accusations by an unknown “administrator X” (whose anonymous diatribe shamefully used a student journalist to hide behind) have exposed an even more disgraceful and manipulative side to the administration’s motives. The anonymous administrator’s allegations that Chi Theta Chi has been irresponsible “to the point of vandalism” acting in “obliviousness and arrogance” towards their home, are neither qualitatively accurate, nor are these things, in any legal sense, grounds at all for the termination of a lease. Instead, beyond indicating what continues to be a shocking lack of transparency in administrator motives, it points to a much more serious issue at hand: that the university has pathologically begun to think of and treat its students like small children to be punished and pushed around, and not as the leaders it claims to want to empower.

What’s worse, XOX has for three decades been an independently owned, up-to-code, completely functioning house and is, by some accounts, “the last free social space” on campus. Not to mention, for students on financial aid, the fact that the home has control of its own finances allows for its residents to bypass the university’s 96% monopoly of undergraduate student housing, and save over $4,000 per year on their room and board bill ($8490/year versus $12,721/year), an amount that, even when compared to the several university-owned cooperatives, ranges from $1,365 to $1,865 cheaper.

Even if you don’t care for the XOX community in particular, I urge you to consider the ramifications of the far-reaching privatization, propagandizing, and administrative bureaucracy encountered at Stanford on your own life – with the invasive regulation of our housing communities, the coddling of students with hedonist comforts, and actions the Board of Trustees and President Hennessy have taken that continue to encourage an entrepeneurial-dominant campus atmosphere. It is becoming increasingly obvious that at this university, students have little to no say in any of our school’s major developments or in guiding how best to follow our school’s academic mission to “promote the public welfare.” Case in point, the Board of Trustees approval to dole out community space for a $345 million dollar Nike funded business management school at the heart of our campus (completed in 2011), though probably a good business movedoes little for Stanford students other than further inculcate the old “go-it-alone, at-all-costs” mentality of monopolization, which we are beginning to see worldwide is a failing model – certainly in terms of contributing to the general public welfare.

Taken together, by witnessing our school’s seemingly never-ending explosion of business opportunity, while simultaneously watching a slow dismantling and neutering of all our school’s most meaningful and free communities, the cumulative effect is that we are slowly being led to believe that community has absolutely no value whatsoever. So, instead of committing to one another, we commit to our majors. We spend time networking and scheming on start-up ideas rather than making friends. And, instead of reasoning morally, we begin thinking monetarily, coming frighteningly close to believing free-enterprise and free-will are one and the same. On and on this goes until even on a campus as vast and breezy and sunny as this, we find it alarmingly easy to put our principles indefinitely on hold and, like children in a large sand-box, more-or-less willingly, resign ourselves to becoming corporate pawns so long as it is “fun” and can provide us snacks.

My main issue with this is not that I loathe business or am not grateful for technological advancement like the “resolutionary” iPad3, but simply that I think we are making a grave mistake if we believe we can go through life content, either, with having limited or institutionally coerced decision-making. This is especially true in these formative post-adolescent years. How can our state of “willful arrested development” not adversely effect our ability to make ethical judgments throughout the rest of our adult life? How – and against what real issues – can we hammer out our moral compass? More pressingly, why have our highest aspirations strayed from maintaining local communities and involving ourselves in meaningful political struggle, to beginning start-ups with narrow social agendas and two-syllable names that sound like a child in the early ‘babbling’ stage of speech development?

The rigid normalization of student life and infantilization of our desires by an unaccountable, undemocratic, and nontransparent administration, is detrimental to the life of the mind and the heart of the curious student, which together thrive on cooperative problem solving and the disorder of even simple things such as cooking one’s own dinner or cleaning a filthy toilet. Chi Theta Chi’s residents have a handle on this, sometimes all too well. Residents of XOX have also begun to recognize a key anthropologic truth, which is that our personal identities are reflections of both our communities and our physical surroundings and so follows, that when put in asylum-like conditions – where we are unable to affect, share ownership, or construct an organic feeling of home in these places – we easily slip downwards until we become emotionally stifled and mentally enslaved ourselves. Sure we might end up looking good on the outside, with a well-manicured Curriculum Vitae and a heavily watered ego, but beneath the surface could be hiding a reality which is deeply dissatisfied and emotionally unstable.

The ultimate tragedy is that, here at Stanford, by systematically isolating us from meaningful decision-making and shared community – things that have been understood within sociology as some of the most extreme sources of pleasure for human beings – I fear that we as students will submerge ourselves deeper and deeper into a state of anomie, nihilism, and meaninglessness, that threaten to undermine the truly liberating potential of higher education.

Our only option then, beyond not caring and taking another piece of german chocolate cake from Arrillaga dining, is to collectively organize and save Chi Theta Chi from the thieving grips of a faceless, undemocratic institution! 
But then again, why, once we have the momentum, would we want to stop there?

More than a century ago, before there was any mention of a 99% or Occupy Wall Street, it was our school’s founder, Leland Stanford Sr. himself, who warned of the social inequality our nation would encounter if labor and scholarship were placed at the mercy of industry and large accumulations of wealth. He foresaw the nefarious problems that would arise if power were left unchecked in the hands of private enterprise and vulture capitalism. So, in a stroke of benevolent wisdom, it was Leland Stanford Sr. who wisely placed “co-operation” at the heart of our school’s mission statementdeclaring in his writings, that “the principle of co-operation of individuals is a most democratic one…It is the absolute protection of the people against the possible monopoly of the few.”

Had Leland Stanford Sr. been alive to see his school overrun, as it is today, with industrial forces and the corrosive obsession with money and status, he may have told us to grow up and one can imagine him rolling over and over in the mausoleum at the thought of losing XOX, the last independent cooperative on campus. Furthermore, the miserly control of our $16.5 billion endowment would seem practically criminal, especially as it lacks what would seem to be obvious stipulations barring investment in companies that commit ethics violations, like those of companies and banks, today, who continue to make record profits off of the same global economic and political instability that they are causing. Should Stanford University have anything to do with the companies and banks taking part in the military weapons industry (Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman), anti-immigrant and drug-criminalization fueled mass-incarceration (CCA, Geo Group), and land, labor, and resource exploitation both foreign and domestic (too many to list just a few)? The answer, I hope, is, “Absolutely not!”

So, in honor of a besieged XOX and in the hopes of creating a more just world, could we not (over the next two-years, as XOX sits on the chopping block) organize a related campaign to divest from these unethical companies if, by simultaneously assuming cooperative responsibility for ourselves as the Stanford Daily recently suggested (i.e. cleaning, cooking, democratically guiding our curriculum, and – better yet – creating new cooperatives), we were also able to eliminate the administrative offices of Student Affairs and ResEd altogether (no offense Greg Boardman and Deborah Golder), and thereby cut costs on our university’s $4.1 billion operating budget of which a whopping 54% goes towards salaries and benefits? Think about it, with the money saved by students self-organizing, we could free up endowment funds to reinvest into companies and projects that directly address human needs such as providing affordable education, housing, food, and healthcare to more than just the most privileged few who have happened to make it here. In other words, by pursuing cooperative living right here locally, we could help solve economic inequality globally!

Maybe I am too idealistic. Maybe I should be the one growing up to face the cold facts of life, bowing before the almighty dollar. But, then again I feel like idealism and looking for alternatives is what college is all about. And luckily, having come to Stanford and having had the opportunity to live at XOX, I feel and, in fact, know, that I am in good company. Not only did my wonderful fellow XOX residents demonstrate the advantages of a cooperative lifestyle to me day after day – but I also now firmly believe that it was a dream of Leland Stanford Sr. that “co-operation” become both a blueprint for our university and an antidote if we ever found ourselves, like we absolutely do today, in too dangerous an impasse with corporate monopolies. Stanford believed that principled reasoning and brotherhood could elevate us high above the messiness of human greed and lust for power and, therefore, he did all he could to ensure that it became a part of our school’s academic mission.

Beginning with a fight to protect XOX from university monopolization, we, the students, workers, and faculty of this university, have an opportunity to push back even further, building a movement which transcends XOX becoming a broad fight for cooperation and community democracy on our campus as a whole. Such a movement could eventually steer ourselves and this school back on its historically intended course, allowing students and faculty to take the reigns in guiding how this university sways its influence locally and globally. We need no longer be children at the hands of a university which seeks to coddle us into passivity and emotional vacancy as we crawl towards an entrepreneurial future.

Instead, let us come together to seize on this urgent moment of campus, national, and global transformation, which just this year has grown, before our eyes, to become a showdown between global capitalism and grass-roots community democracy. Let us join together on the side of community independence, free expression, shared common spaces, and true student democracy (as well as a more just world).

And, finally, I ask you to join in as I share with you the popular cry of solidarity from my weirdly beloved home, Chi Theta Chi, as we call upon our university to move onward and upward towards a “cooperativist” future, triumphantly hollering “Bring us with us!” Say it aloud. Trust me, it’s fun.

Luke Wigren is a 2011 graduate of Stanford University in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity with a concentration in “Art, Community Organizing, and Social Movements.” He is working on cinematic projects about “revolutionary tourism” and, though he will – like most – be moving on in life, would like to continue to be able to call Chi Theta Chi and the Stanford community home and actually mean it. Otherwise, it’s been a good five years. Nice to know you.

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18 thoughts on “It’s Time for Us to Grow Up, Collectively Organize, and Fight Back: Protecting XOX (and yourself) from Stanford’s “Era of Infantilization”

  1. Anonymous says:

    While I do see your point and I stand with XOX, your hyperbolic polarizing rhetoric comes off as a bit too much. I hope that in the future XOX residents can bring some perspective into the discourse; for now it seems lacking on both sides.

    But perspective is difficult in the Stanford “bubble,” that is for sure. Yes, the residents of XOX can claim to be disenfranchised by the University. But we Stanford students are a collection of the luckiest people on the planet; even the “poorest” of us has access to resources most of the world can only dream of. The nation’s 1% is more like Stanford’s 99%. There’s a whole world of disenfranchisement beyond that puts ours to shame. Hint: start with those that cut our grass, cook our meals, and clean our bathrooms (yes even XOX residents have to pee during lecture).

    So heres my advice, take it or leave it: Stop acting like a victim. You are insanely lucky to be who you are, to have lived where you did, and to have been educated where you were. I commend you for trying hard to change things for the better, but no, Stanford’s administration is not “evil” and XOX is not where the revolution begins. Use your polarizing rhetoric in a real conflict. What this situation needs is a civil, measured, and reasoned conversation, which is practice for real reform.

    • Luke Wigren says:

      All these issues (from Stanford’s monopolizing of resident life and consciousness to the growing worldwide corporate empire which is usurping land and low-wage labor in a “Global neo-feudal slavery” as I call it) are connected, and if you pay attention to the article, I express that. The fact that we don’t seem to care about the global 99%, as I again have argued, is symptomatic of the lifestyle we lead here (and in the US at large) — one that is sheltered, patronized, and conditioned to the point of passivity. XOX is but one co-op and, yes, it is also my home, but more than just that, it is the “independent cooperative spirit” that it exudes which I am truly fighting for! THAT is what Stanford administrators will be doing away with if they give XOX the axe. And, no, I never said our administration was “evil” –just like I don’t think the majority of American people are evil even though our nation has been waging unjust wars throughout our history — however we do all need to be held accountable when we are ignorantly complicit in repression.

  2. Anonymous says:

    While I do see your point and stand with XOX, your hyperbolic polarizing rhetoric comes off as a bit too much. I hope that in the future XOX residents can bring some perspective into the discourse; for now it seems lacking on both sides.

    But perspective is difficult in the Stanford “bubble,” that is for sure. Yes, the residents of XOX can claim to be disenfranchised by the University. But we Stanford students are a collection of the luckiest people on the planet; even the “poorest” of us has access to resources most of the world can only dream of. The nation’s 1% is more like Stanford’s 99%. There’s a whole world of disenfranchisement beyond that puts ours to shame. Hint: start with those that cut our grass, cook our meals, and clean our bathrooms (yes even XOX residents have to pee during lecture).

    So heres my advice, take it or leave it: Stop acting like a victim. You are insanely lucky to be who you are, to have lived where you did, and to have been educated where you were. I commend you for trying hard to change things for the better, but no, Stanford’s administration is not “evil” and XOX is not where the revolution starts. Use your polarizing rhetoric in a real conflict. What this situation needs is a civil, measured, and reasoned conversation, which is practice for real reform.

  3. lil respect! says:

    lets have a little bit of respect – this forum is meant to be arrived at with a hope for understanding!

    lukes arrival at xox as a nexus point of conflict is no doubt grounded in his own collegial experience, but the questions he arrives at seem to inflate like a balloon in the microcosm of xox. i would invite such impassioned criticism of the system — the 4billiondollar annual cost of operation is a monetary expression of just what a massive vehicle is at work . . . the undergraduate population is no doubt just one small part of the equation, and student living spaces a smaller subset of importance, and then you could just consider xox a small fractal of light an aberration on the genuinely sparkling facade of leland jr’s resting place. broken wine bottles and open doors, oh my! do we really think this home is so alien to the rest of campus? it is a wonderful home.

    until a couple years ago there were grad students in xox and other co-ops. we learn from eachother in this tradition we continue to put our faith in … ‘residential education’ . . . years ago there were eating clubs as a social alternative to fraternities and sororities. . . this summer the toyon eating clubs will be destroyed. . .it’s hard not to appreciate the incredible construction all across campus… the research and life force being generated on every level of stanford is mind blowing. the university’s metabolism is off the charts. how much do we care for its cultural memory?

    how can stanford inspire truly-mind-border-transcending ‘innovation’ well it will probably rest much of its strength on collaboration and team-work. getting rid of xox is nothing like a ‘final blow’ to the spirit of campus, but why the penalization of something that is a beautifully functioning community? Luke points out a number of patterns and offers an interesting and raw solution. At least he attempts to communicate to the University some of the perspective which is being disregarded by the administration

    • momo says:

      I enjoyed this post like I enjoy freeform jazz: I have a vague understanding of its concepts, but I might never understand its nuances.

  4. Holdout says:

    My main issue with Stanford Housing is the mental health and welfare of ALL of the students. It is so important to provide different living situations for different students with different needs and capabilities. I have been to XOX and I love the sense of community there and would be sad to see it go. Thanks for standing up for your community! Thanks for standing up for fellow students who are up to living in a cooperative kind of community where the Golden Rule is what rules the day. Don’t let people who don’t even read the whole article and who somehow avoid the facts bring you down. xox forever!

  5. Bruce says:

    I suppose if ever there were evidence of the “infantilization” of Stanford, this writer would be Exhibit A; the quantity of infantile complaining in this article is absolutely astounding.

    Now don’t get me wrong, a little complaining now and then is perfectly acceptable, but for the love of kale, at least be consistent in it. When you complain about everything that you can possibly think of, with the rational analysis of a drunken 4th grader, the exercise tends to become one in futility, not to mention comedy.

    A personal favorite was your complaint about the “privatization” of Stanford…which was followed, in the very same sentence, by further whining about the far-reaching bureaucracy of Stanford.

    I also found myself sympathetic with your ire towards the school’s focus on such things as entrepreneurship, real-life applicability in studies, and investment in companies that are not Ben & Jerry’s or MSNBC. Especially when it all comes at the expense of “making friends.”

    This last complaint is particularly amusing, considering the significant portion of the diatribe you spent bemoaning Stanford’s coddling of its students. One can almost imagine an irritated middle-schooler, stamping his foot on the ground and pouting, “But why? Why do I have to do homework? I just want to hang out with friends!” before bursting into tears and collapsing to the floor.

    Well, believe it or not, Luke, that’s not the way the world works. You do indeed have to do your homework, you do indeed have to put in the hours and become a useful, productive member of society. Maybe if you spent a little bit less time formulating endless arrays of grievances, you’d have a little more time for friend-making and real, productive activities. Come to think of it, maybe that would be a great place to start in fixing this culture problem you see at Stanford.

    I don’t know if Stanford is to blame for your current disposition or if that’s been in the works for a far longer time, but here’s a suggestion: be the change you want to see, Luke. Instead of complaining about how Stanford is “infantilizing” its students, stop embodying the very thing you bemoan and conducting yourself like a veritable infant. Instead of decrying how Silicon Valley makes “a habit (and a profit) treating their consumers like cartoon-addicted junkies and fruit roll-up obsessed four year olds,” don’t buy their products and move on with your life.

    There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “Wringing your hands only keeps you from rolling up your sleeves.” Roll up your sleeves Luke, because right now you are the very embodiment not of Stanford’s culture of “infantilization,” but of this country’s. We have far too many people complaining and far too few producing, and complaining more isn’t going to fix it.

    But short of that, the next time you log onto your MacBook Pro to complain about something, be it XOX, corporate profits, not enough friends, etc., at least remember to appreciate, if only at a bare minimum, the people that are in fact truly doing something about our culture of “infantilization,” and not simply reinforcing it.

    Best of luck with the community organizing, Luke.

    • david says:

      looks like someone got hit a little too close to home, huh? i’m sorry you confuse things like entrepreneurship dorms with “real, productive work”, and think “community” is just about “making friends” and therefore less important than anything else. i believe this is precisely the attitude that is being questioned, here, and i’m sorry you don’t seem to be able to wrap your head around it (for instance, you think privatization and bureaucracy are opposites??) what with all that important work i’m sure you’re doing right now. when does your startup launch, again?

      • Braun says:

        David – Bruce took the tactic of posting a truly unfair and questionably credible response … to which you came back with a similarly unfair but not-that-credible response. (He was, for example, quoting Luke with the “making friends” part.)

    • Luke Wigren says:

      ad hominem attack much?

      I’d like to, as you say, “collapse on the floor” sometimes from all the heinousness and injustice I see in the world and especially, because now I realize that I have unwittingly since birth, been tacitly a part of it by living in the United States and then going to Stanford — a university that turns a blind eye to corporate ethics violations in the name of the DOLLAR.

      At this rate though, sadly, there may be no ground beneath me when finally I do fall. Or, if there is, chances are a bank will own it, and someone with a name-tag will tell me to move along, or threaten to call the police.

      On community organizing I go!!! 😀

  6. Anonymous says:

    This post is absolutely pathetic. If you haven’t noticed, other than your residential circle, the students don’t give a damn about your “plight.” And not apathetically, but justifiably–it’s no plight. Take your delusions of true justice and invest them in something meaningful. What this is not.

    This is a university. A PRIVATE university. You applied to get in, you pay to come here. You don’t have to be here. In fact, for all your bitching, we really don’t want you here.

    Your house is being revoked. Deal with it. Now move on.

    • david says:

      as someone who is not a member of the XOX or co-op residential circle, i and many people i know give plenty of a damn about their “plight”. some of us actually care what becomes of stanford, the place that is supposed to produce the leaders of tomorrow. the culture of this place has untold impact on the world that we go on to create.

      appeals to membership in a private organization are terribly misldeading– it is precisely his right, as a member of the Stanford community, to appeal to his fellow community members for a change in direction.

      Also, I’m glad to see you’re mature enough to handle people different from you being around you. i’m sure you’ll do just fine in the real world.

    • Anonymous... says:

      So this post is clearly a space for people to have an outlet for their ideas and share those ideas–best of all in a forum where people, including “Bruce,” are actually forming some sort of critical opinion. In no way is your comment a part of that…actually, your comment is just fucking annoying. What you doing/thinking? (Don’t actually answer that.)

  7. Stefan says:

    “XOX becoming a broad fight for cooperation and community democracy”. Hardly. It seems more of a breeding ground for exclusivity and conformism to “alternative” culture.

    Stanford owns the building. Theta Chi is in the draw. Your housing fees are paid for (probably by your parents) through Stanford Housing. Get over yourself.

    If you want independence, don’t look for it in a University owned building. Stop whining and move off campus if you are really that committed to your cause /communalism/ democracy/ anti-capitalism/ whatever other buzzwords you come up with.

    • john says:

      And what is the rest of University-owned housing but a “breeding ground” for conformism to the mainstream culture? What, so only your culture should get to “breed” on campus? Sure, why not, fuck all the people who don’t want to be the next Mark Zuckerburg, if they want to experience alternative ways of living and relating to each other they can just go buy a house in Palo Alto. I mean, they go to Stanford, so they are obviously rich, right? Otherwise we wouldn’t want them here.
      Also, exclusivity? Have you ever been to XOX? I mean, their door is literally always open.

      • Anonymous says:

        having a door that doesn’t lock and being an open community are two very different things. Besides, if we all support your position, wouldn’t that then make XOX way too mainstream and conformist?

      • david says:

        @Anonymous — no, that would make you a fellow human being. The way community is *supposed* to work is that we all support each other even when we disagree, because we value each other despite our differences. I have never lived in XOX, but I think Stanford is an immensely better place for having it.

        The University’s opaque, sudden, drastic action is reprehensible. I think Luke is correct in connecting it to a long string of recent events (which I have been intimately involved in via my various roles in student group leadership) intended to sterilize Stanford’s long history of heterogeneous culture and liber(tarian/al)ism. It is clear that Hennessy has found the road to easy money for the University, and it is schmoozing up to the valley and placating the incoming generation of helicopter parents and their infantilized children. He would rather we all be MacGreggor-Dennises than Wigrens, and as an alumnus I am frankly appalled.

    • Stanford does NOT and NEVER HAS owned the Chi Theta Chi house. It was built by a 21 year old student who founded a fraternity chapter, negotiated the lease of the land directly with Leland Stanford himself, got a loan based on the lease, and hired the contractors. The house has been owned by its alumni for 120 years. Stanford is taking $3 million in property and $200,000 in annual income stream away from the alumni owners of this house into its own pockets. Stefan, you made assumptions based on the Disneyland world Stanford has become. Chi Theta Chi is a small remnant of the American dream of people owning their own property, maintaining it with their own resources, and living in freedom, but Stanford’s more powerful property rights are taking that away. In its first 65 years, Stanford created space ON CAMPUS for student independence. It has been closing this space since WWII, and once it takes away the Sigma Chi house from its alumni, it will have finished the job.

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