Stirrings at Stanford?
20 February 2009 (collegiateway.org) — Half of the top 25 universities in the United States have residential college systems or are planning or talking about the collegiate idea. One that has not considered the collegiate way is Stanford, and its students have begun to notice.
An opinion piece by undergraduate Luukas Ilves in today’s Stanford Daily laments the condition of Stanford housing—a familiar complaint on every campus in every age—but it notes as well that the residential colleges found at Stanford’s peer institutions are different and better.
“The average Yale or Harvard residential college or house has its own gym, photo lab, performing arts spaces, late-night eatery and other spaces, ranging from indoor squash and basketball courts to art galleries,” writes Ilves. “We have computer clusters and lounges.”
But surely this is just a matter of money, is it not? “No—our housing bill is a few hundred dollars higher than that of Harvard, Yale or Princeton.”
Harvard et al. pay great attention to their dorms for a reason—residential life plays an integral role in their undergraduate experiences, and there are strong alumni constituencies behind every residential college or dorm. An alum’s allegiance to his residential college often supersedes his loyalty to the school….
It’s not a question of money, but of priorities—there are lots of innovative ways to raise funds. Yale has an online catalog that lists the costs of sponsoring parts of its new residential colleges—a TV lounge for $250,000, a dining hall for five million dollars. How many wealthy alums wouldn’t want their name on a gleaming new residence on Escondido Road?
Even some enlightened folks at Berkeley, Stanford’s traditional rival, are taking important steps down the collegiate way. Isn’t it time for the folks in Palo Alto to do the same?