Activities and Communities on Campus
Stanford’s countless opportunities can prove quite empty without the right people by your side. The fantastic news is that Stanford’s social spectrum spans far and wide, and so you can spend freshman year seeking out communities till you find the ones that fit just right. There are student groups, theater troupes, sports teams, ethnic groups, dormitories, email lists, greek organizations, and so much more on campus. Here’s our guide within a guide to navigating those communities.
Get Involved in Your Freshman Dorm
As a freshman, you’ll be living with other freshmen, whether you like it or not. From all-freshmen dorms in Stern and Wilbur, to the juggernaut that is Roble, to the familial communities that comprise ethnic-themed dorms, there will be other bright-eyed, bushy-tailed first years with you.
No matter what your living situation, there is virtually no downside to getting to know your fellow freshman. A pro tip is to form a study group with other people in the same classes as you, or at least with similar interests in classes; more often than not, these people will end up being your friends. Freshman dorms do a lot together, everything from eating dinner together, to having the proverbial 2am philosophical talks together, to arriving 4 hours early to the first football game of the year together, so this experience is one that you will not want to take for granted.
Explore your Interests
While your freshman dorm will prove to be a microcosm where you’ll meet all kinds of people, you’ll also want to seek out people who share your interests. The Activity fair on the first Friday of fall quarter is a great way to find student groups. The neat thing about Stanford is that people tend to mix and match interests, so don’t worry about joining groups that have nothing to do with your choice of major. Use these communities to explore your interests, be it writing, social advocacy, or juggling.
Explore your Disinterests
Try something you never thought you would try; you’re only in college once. Get involved in a community where you wouldn’t necessarily place yourself, whether it be a student group, religious group, dorm study group, or even a random lunch table,and try it out for a few weeks. Most people will be welcoming, so even if the activity doesn’t even up interesting you, at least you’ll have made some friends.
There are an inconceivable number of events happening at any given time all over campus: speakers, performances, lectures, screenings, conferences, exhibits, readings, and much more.
Unfortunately, there’s no one ultimate resource to easily keep tabs on all events; there are, however, a few different resources to help you out. A word to the wise: don’t try and attend every single event you find interesting (unless you find very few things interesting). Having a social life is important too.
With over 600 University recognized student groups on campus, every single person here can find a place to belong plus ten places you want to belong but can’t find the time to fit into your schedule. The trick is to find your own niche and be willing to let some things go. If you visit mygroups.stanford.edu/search, you will find a list of all of the organizations and clubs here on campus, complete with contact information and description.
If for some reason you can’t find the club you want, you can easily start your own (but seriously, look to see if it exists, because there are already 600 clubs). Simply visit Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) (formerly called the OSA) at Old Union Room 206, and you will find kind advisers who can guide you through the registration application.
You should definitely attend the Activities Fair at the beginning of the year. It takes place in White Plaza almost immediately after the start of classes and is geared towards freshman. Groups will scramble to get you to sign up, and that might be overwhelming but it will be worth it. Clubs will not be upset if you join and then decide to quit—in fact, they expect many people to do so. So sign up for stuff that interests you, try it for a few weeks and then drop the activities that aren’t working for you. We cannot even begin to touch on all of the clubs and groups Stanford has to offer. To make your life a little easier, however, we have divided this section into groupings based around different interests to get you started. Good luck!
Activism and Service
The Haas Center for Public Service: haas.stanford.edu. The Haas Center has an enormous array of resources to help you engage in community service or learn more about service at Stanford. Definitely worth a visit.
The official student arts website on campus. Visit this site for event information and up-to-date news and reviews.
This site features a multi-media guide with information on all art groups at Stanford.
Stanford Live brings the best in performing arts to campus, including performances by internationally renowned artists and exceptional emerging talent from around the world. They offer performances in classical and world music, dance, and theater, at a 50% discount to Stanford students. They also offer educational and outreach programs including open rehearsals, master classes, pre- and post-performance discussions, and extended residencies with music, dance, and drama departments.
Stanford’s Dance Division provides students with opportunities to explore the historical, sociological and cultural aspects of dance, as well as to take classes focused on technique and style. Whether you’re a beginner or an old timer, don’t miss out on Richard Powers’ social dance classes that will prep you for the annual Jammix, Ragtime Ball, Viennese Ball, and Big Dance. In addition, some dance groups, like Los Salseros de Stanford and Stanford Ballroom Dance Team, offer free dance workshops throughout the year.
You can take a class, try out for a production, or if you like working behind the scenes, sign-up to work stage crew. The drama department produces a full season of theater throughout the academic year on campus, open to students and the public. Beginning classes such as TAPS 20 or 120A are great for actors of any skill level.
Ram’s Head Theatrical Society rams-head.stanford.edu—They put on Gaieties, Winter One-Acts, and a spring musical.
StanShakes shakespeare.stanford.edu—StanShakes is a repertory acting and tech company that performs two of Shakespeare’s plays—often utilizing creative outdoor spaces—each school year.
Asian American Theater Project (AATP)—AATP is dedicated to sharing and creation of work that addresses the Asian/Asian American experience through theater and the performing arts.
Stanford Theater Lab—Lab serves as a flexible artistic home that produces intimate and contemporary theatre.
Freex Theater—The Freex want to make free, independent performance that is accessible and exciting.
At The Fountain Theatricals—At the Fountain is dedicated to working on musical theatre and arts education.
The Stanford Savoyards—Stanford’s first Gilbert and Sullivan opera group, the Savoyards are a student run theater that allows students produce, direct, and perform one of a kind operettas.
Stanford Classics in Theatre—They research, rehearse and perform classical theater.
Robber Barons Sketch Comedy robberbaronscomedy.com—Stanford’s sketch comedy group that puts on a free, entirely original show every quarter.
Stanford Improvisors simps.stanford.edu—Besides performing, SImps also act as TAs for TAPS 103: Beginning Improvising, which might just be the best class at Stanford. They also do improv workshops and small shows throughout the quarter and a bigger end of quarter show.
Stand up, D—They meet weekly to work on jokes, host comedy open mics and put on end of quarter shows.
Stanford Sitcom Project sitcom.stanford.edu—The Sitcom Project writes and produces a new sitcom every school year, so they welcome writers, actors, editors and anyone who wants to learn about how tv shows get made.
Stanford Music: music.stanford.edu is an umbrella organization including the Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Chorus, Chamber Chorale, University Singers, Choral Activities, Wind Ensemble (Symphonic Band), Stanford Jazz Orchestra, Stanford Taiko, Stanford Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble.
Ballet Folklorico de Stanford
Catch A Fyah (Caribbean)
Stanford Chinese Dance
Common Origins, DV8, HD
Crew, Jam Pac’d
Stanford Bhangra Team,
Stanford Hindi Film Dance
Urban Styles (Jazz)
Bent Spoon (Contemporary)
Mua Lac Hong
The Dollies (Band Dancers)
Shifterz Breakdance Crew
Stanford Tango Club
MUSIC & ACAPELLA GROUPS
Stanford Concert Network (SCN): scnstanford.edu
LSJUMB — The Stanford Band
• Counterpoint (all female)
• Everyday People (R&B)
• Fleet Street (All-male Comedy)
• The Harmonics (Rock)
• The Mendicants (All-male)
• Mixed Company (Co-ed)
• Raagapella (South Asian)
• Sigma Delta
• Talisman (Spiritual and African Songs)
• Testimony (Christian)
• Volta (Jazz)
Whether on the field or in the stands, Stanford is known for its athletic prowess and school spirit. Here’s how to get involved:
With top-of-the-line facilities, NCAA championship legacies (39 years and counting of at least one), and Stanford’s 21 straight U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup titles, it is no wonder Stanford attracts top athletes from around the country each year. Regardless of whether you’re playing at the top of your game, or just playing your game, Stanford is ideally suited to an athletic lifestyle. Stanford’s varsity teams generally aren’t very accessible to non-recruited athletes, although some teams have more space for them than others (in some years Crew has relied on walk-ons to build a roster, and then gone on to win national championships).
Alternatively, club teams are a great option for those who still want to play at a competitive level. Because club sports only receive funding from The Stanford Fund, the members have to pay dues and the teams are a bit more rag-tag in their traveling accommodations. But they can also be a lot more fun and relaxed. Most club sports teams are like mini frats or sororities, complete with initiation for new members and social chairs who plan events. For those just looking to have a good time with friends, Intramurals are seasonal, low-key, and pressure-free, and you can always grab some friends and just play a pick-up game.
If being on the field isn’t your thing, there’s always room in the stands. Depending on the sport (and the season—if the team is not doing well, Stanford students have a tendency to think hard about the opportunity costs of attending games), there are different options for fans. For most sports, not all, admission for students is free.
Cultural & Community Centers
The best way to understand the purpose and environment of a community center, is to visit one. All of Stanford’s Community Centers are welcoming and accepting spaces. Many community centers have special programs just for freshmen, so you can use this as a chance to get acclimated to both the center and school. Besides the free printing that many of them offer (yeah, you heard us right), they also offer a wide range of resources and support, from sponsoring tutors, hosting events that focus on life on campus and beyond, to providing a place to chill between classes.
The fantastic news is that Stanford’s social spectrum spans far and wide, and so you can spend freshman year seeking out communities till you find the ones that fit just right.
On any other college campus, Greek life can be a very contentious and divisive issue among students on campus. But when has Stanford ever been like anywhere else? Here, Greek life takes a variety of forms, from the traditional Animal House inspired craziness at some of the more raucous frats to the more intellectually savvy places. And one must not forget the large number of multicultural and AAFSA Fraternities and Sororities here as well. Stanford even has co-ed business and community service focused frats. But as much as Greek life is alive and kicking on campus, don’t feel like your social life goes down the drain if you don’t join one. If it’s not for you, trust me, you can find plenty of things to do to keep you busy.
The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is like most student governments. But if you want any say in your representation, you should know a little about it. ASSU is primarily responsible for student group finances and appropriations: they control over one million dollars in funding and provide student groups special funding when necessary. See a free student group show on campus? You and every other student are paying a few cents for it, via ASSU. Not bad, considering many groups (from sketch comedy to a capella to all kinds of dancing) hold these free shows.
ASSU also hosts big campus events, such as Mausoleum Party on Halloween, and tries to improve the school. Campus-wide elections are held every spring, but be warned: like all politics, ASSU has to deal with a huge uncompromising bureaucratic institution, dichotomous interests, and a lot of frustrated constituents.
Cultural Community Centers
Asian American Activities Center (A3C)
Black Community Services Center (BCSC)
El Centro Chicano
Center for Latin American Studies
Native American Cultural Center
American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Program (AIANNHP)
Women’s Community Center
LGBT Community Center
SSE manages businesses for students and by students. They educate and invest in their student employees so that they can develop and practice a relevant set of business skills through operating our enterprises. They give new meaning to their employees’ education by helping students to synthesize and apply their academic knowledge. Similarly, they enhance student life in general by creating valuable, student-centric services that financially support the freedom of groups and organizations across campus.
SSE is comprised of students of a diverse backgrounds doing business at the crossroads of curiosity and hustle. They are collectively defined by three shared traits: (1) an interest in making a real impact, (2) a commitment to getting any job done well, and (3) a desire to serve the Stanford community. Their mission is providing students a professional experience, providing relevant services to students on campus and contributing to the financial viability of the ASSU.
SSE Business Internship Program (For Frosh)
The Business Intern Program is the premier introduction to SSE for freshmen at Stanford. A yearlong internship program, participants help drive innovation in all of SSE’s divisions. Participants go to team meetings and run their own projects. Along the way, they learn from each other and the SSE upperclassmen. All efforts are celebrated at program social events, including company retreats. Likewise, a $500 stipend will be awarded to interns upon completion of the program. No prior business experience is required. They are looking for talented members who will take all the resources BIP offers and grow into more senior roles at SSE. Apply for BIP online at SSE’s website. If you aren’t a freshman, but still interested in getting involved, please visit sse.stanford.edu/jobs to find all currently available positions.
The Stanford Student Enterprises Advertising Division prides itself in being the sole advertising group on campus that helps local and national businesses and organizations connect and infiltrate Stanford student culture. With their five annual product offerings, which includes the Stanford Unofficial Guide (13,500 copies distributed), the Stanford Directory (18,000 copies distributed), the ASSU Campus Calendar (13,000 copies distributed), the Stanford Map (55,000 copies distributed to visitors and in surrounding area), the Stanford Flyering Service (they work with over 50 organizations), and online advertising options they can help you target specific demographics and increase visibility of your business across campus.
The production and distribution of SSE’s advertising products employs over 50 students throughout the year. Because the Advertising Division is student run, it puts them in a unique position to give their more than 300 clients valuable insights on how to best connect to the student body and staff–whether it is through one of their core publications or through a custom advertising campaign.
Capital Group is a student-run financial services organization offering a full range of banking services in addition to asset management, audit protection, and record keeping. With deposits in excess of $6 million and managed assets of approximately $14 million, Capital Group is one of the largest of its kind. Their clients and customers include over 800 student groups, the Associate Students of Stanford University, and their parent organization, Stanford Student Enterprises. Headquartered in the heart of campus at Old Union, their team of over twenty Stanford students and accountants work closely with their clients to process and approve banking and funding requests effectively and efficiently.
The Stanford Student Store is a non-profit run by students, for students. We here at the Stanford Student Store all adhere to the same implicitly ingrained Stanford motto: “Work hard, play hard.” Due to our extensive commitments to both achieving greatness and having a great time while doing so, we have established a storefront that allows us to develop hands-on retail and business experience while simultaneously cultivating a student-life center. Moreover, all profits generated through the Store are distributed to the student body through numerous channels via the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU).
Media and Publications
The Unofficial Stanford Blog tusb.stanford.edu Stanford’s open-content blog on campus life, culture, and anything else you want to write about. Unrelated to the Unofficial Guide, but we’ve teamed up to help write what you are reading right now.
Stanford Chaparral stanfordchaparral.com Humor magazine. Weird, fratty humor. A lot of drinking.
The Claw Magazine theclawmagazine.com Quarterly magazine of in-depth pieces on arts and culture and related high-falutin things.
Stanford Daily stanforddaily.com Stanford’s daily newspaper.
The Dualist stanford.edu/group/dualist Undergraduate journal of philosophy.
Stanford Flipside stanfordflipside.com best part of Mondays; weekly satire and puzzles.
Stanford Journal of International Relations: stanford.edu/group/sjir Serious things happening far away.
Leland Quarterly lelandquarterly.com Undergraduate literary magazine and related high-falutin things.
The Stanford Progressive progressive.stanford.edu The campus heavily-liberal-leaning magazine of national politics. (At Stanford, moderate is equivalent to moderately liberal).
The Stanford Review stanfordreview.org The campus conservative-leaning magazine of national politics and local happenings.
Unofficial Guide to Stanford Unofficial.stanford.edu What you are reading right now. Meta.
KZSU Radio Station kzsu.stanford.edu Located in the catacombs of MemAud, KZSU is Stanford’s student radio station. You can have your own show on which you can play music you like and talk about things that are important to you, such as puppies and froyo.
SCBN-TV stanford.edu/group/SCBN-TV Yes! Stanford students do have our own TV station that produces its own shows.
Stanford Film Society stanford.edu/group/sfs Features film-making workshops for beginners and advanced filmmakers and hosts the annual Stanford Student Film Festival every spring.
Stanford Arts Review stanfordartsreview.com Edgy, artsy, topical and dripping with coolness, the Arts Review should be your go to for campus arts, performance and culture.
West westmagazine.net West in a general interest magazine with a focus on arts and literature. They usually do articles in both print and online.
Mint issuu.com/mint_magazine Mint is Stanford’s fashion and culture magazine, featuring music, travel and student style.
Pulse pulsemagazine.stanford.edu/ An online platform tapping into student profiles, fashion, culture, wellbeing, dialogue and stories.
The Office for Religious Life religiouslife.stanford.edu
The Dean, Senior Associate Dean, and Associate Dean for Religious Life provide leadership, services and programming in matters of religion, spirituality and ethics. It is their responsibility to support all religious traditions represented at Stanford. While each of the three participates in and leads worship and study in his/her own religious community, they also operate as a multi faith team to work with all students, faculty and staff of the University, regardless of their religious background (or lack thereof). The Office for Religious Life oversees and supports Stanford Associated Religions (SAR): forty different religious organizations invited to offer their spiritual services to the campus. In addition to SAR, there are also several religious groups on campus, which affiliate solely through Student Activities Leadership (SAL).
For a complete listing of religious groups on campus, along with their contact information and description, visit web.stanford.edu/group/religiouslife/cgi-bin/wordpress/.
(Center for Inter-Religious Community,
Learning, and Experiences)
Located on the 3rd floor of the main Old Union building, CIRCLE offers a common room, a few seminar rooms, an interfaith sanctuary, a student lounge, and library.
Many students have one or more part-time jobs while also being a student. If you are looking for a job on campus, the best place to check out first is the Career Development Center or their website. Other job opportunities can be found on mailing lists, in specific departments or institutions on campus, or with a given professor. Ask a faculty member— they often know people in industry and can make great contacts.
Career Development Center (CDC)
cdc.stanford.edu. It’s their job to help you get a job.