The Stanford Daily
Famous all-freshmen dorm to houseupper-classmen next year
By CHRISTINE MCFADDEN
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
When Robert Picazo ‘79 M.A ‘81 first setfoot on the Farm in 1971,he entered a newlyco-ed residence on Escondido Road:Branner Hall.Over the course of his fresh-man year,Picazo would fall in love with thedorm—and the girl down the hall.Picazoand fellow Branner freshman Carolyn Ellis‘79 married two years after graduation,withPicazo’s roommate Mike Cresto ‘79 servingas best man.Since its opening 85 years ago,Brannerhas hosted a range of students from JerryYang ‘90 to Sandra Day O’Connor ‘50,J.D.‘52.Many,like Picazo,have had life-shapingexperiences at 655 Escondido Road—Branner is well known for its strong commu-nity.But as part of the new master housingplan,the beloved dorm,which has housedexclusively freshmen for four decades,willbecome an upper-class dorm.
Branner has had a variety of gender con-figurations in past years,from housing allmen,to all women and finally to its currentstate as the largest co-ed,all-freshmen dormon campus.Opening winter quarter of 1924,Brannerbegan as an all-male,four-class dorm.InJuly of 1946,it was announced that Brannerwould switch to an all-female,four-classdorm.It remained females-only untilSeptember of 1968,when the dorm turnedco-ed.Stern and Wilbur were both made co-edthat year as part of a one-year experimentthat ended up lasting longer than expected.Freshmen who experienced living in a co-edBranner during the first year called it an“unqualified success,”and even drafted andunanimously signed a petition to keep thedorm co-ed.The top floor,coined the “Penthouse,”was kept all-male—but it,too,eventuallyfollowed suit and switched to co-ed whenthe dorm underwent renovations 2002-2003.The dorm changed from four-class to all-freshmen between 1968 and 1971.Currently,Branner houses over 170 froshand is known for its large,two- and three-room triples.
Reaction to the Change
Nancy Buffington and Clyde Moneyhun,Branner’s resident fellows (RFs) for the pastthree years,told The Daily that they areexcited about the switch,but acknowledgedthat Branner will lose more than just itsfreshmen.“There will be losses and gains,”saidMoneyhun,who is an assistant director forthe Program in Writing and Rhetoric(PWR).“For three years,we’ve reallyenjoyed the liveliness of all its activities:New Student Orientation,Crossing theLine,Screw Your Roommate and so on.Thedoors to all the rooms are open nearly allthe time;people are coming and going at allhours,study groups are sprawled in the halls.It’s fun!“But we’re looking forward to recreatingBranner as an upper-class house,and we’recollecting ideas from everybody who willtalk to us about how to engage and supportupper-class students,”he continued.“Weplan on keeping it fun.”Many of the traditions mentioned byMoneyhun,along with Branner’s reputa-tion,will inevitably be replaced.“We’ll see which traditions will still makesense to upper-class students and retainthings they will like,”he said.“Maybe we’llbe lucky enough to create some new activi-ties that become traditions.”Moneyhun cited Branner’s reputation asbeing a lively,tight-knit community createdby the residents.He speculated that it willshortly become one of the most desirableplaces to live,with many students vying forits spacious two-room doubles next year.Both Moneyhun and Buffington plan tocontinue as RFs in the next year.Georgia Wells ‘10 shared similar excite-ment about the upcoming switch,but didn’tagree with Moneyhun about Branner’s com-munity.“As a frosh,I found Branner to be too bigfor me and I was envious of my friends insmaller dorms who seemed like they hadtighter-knit communities,”Wells said.“It justdidn’t seem that cohesive.”Wells noted that the large number of freshmen living in Branner had a tendencyto make hallways cliquey and hindered thedorm from bonding as a whole unit.“You share their Branner pride withthem,but you don’t really know them,”Wells said of the relationship among someresidents.Wells acknowledged that Branner’simage as being large,young and energetichas won it a reputation as a party dorm.Shepredicted that modifying it to upperclass-men-only next year will make Branner com-parable to its quieter,upper-class neighbor,Toyon.Former Resident Assistant (RA) Alif Khalfan ‘08,unlike Wells and Moneyhun,isnot enthusiastic about the switch.Khalfanlived in Branner his freshman year butreturned senior year to be an RA.“I am mainly frustrated that they areactually going through with it,”Khalfansaid.“When I was a freshman in Branner,our annual play that we put on was centeredaround the ‘conspiracy’ that [Vice Provostfor Undergraduate Education John]Bravman wanted to change Branner to anupper-class dorm.We laughed it off as animpossible theory at the time,but as theyears passed,it came closer to being anuncomfortable reality.”“On the other hand,knowing that we canno longer fight Stanford on the issue,I alsofeel very fortunate to have been able toserve as an RA there while the true Branneratmosphere still existed,”he added.In terms of how Branner’s reputation willchange,Khalfan believes strongly that itswild character will subside.“Branner is Branner because of the peo-ple who lived there,”he said.“The only‘good’ that will come out of the switch is thattrash-talking Branner for its community willdecrease.People will no longer be chanting‘Branner sucks’ because they are jealous,but will now be saying it because it actuallysucks compared to how it used to be.”Current RA Anisha Patel ‘09 holds simi-lar views to Khalfan in that she feels fortu-nate to have been an RA while the dormwas still all-frosh.Although she said that shemight not have chosen to RA in Branner if it was upper-class,Patel recognized that thesituation has its positives.“As sad as it is that this will be Branner’slast year as a freshmen dorm,I think theswitch has its pluses,”she said.“For example,all of the Branner alums that are still under-grads now have the opportunity to drawback into Branner.And how could someoneever pass an opportunity to live in beautiful,beautiful Branner? I’m curious as to whatfreshmen dorm is now going to be picked onthe most at New Student Orientation andother freshmen events in future years!”Current freshmen in Branner held differ-ent opinions,mostly agreeing with Patel andexpressing excitement about the potential of living in Branner again during theirStanford careers.“I’m very excited,”said Nathan Barnett‘12.“I want to live in Branner twice.I feellike implementing a seniority system makesit necessary for Branner to be upperclass-men.”“The upperclassmen who get the oppor-tunity to live in Branner are lucky students,”added Brian Tolkin ‘12.“To make theserooms two-room doubles is like living in aHilton hotel.”
Some alumni,who hold fond memoriesof their times in Branner,have expresseddisappointment with the change.“It’s a little of a shock,and I’m saddenedby it,”Picazo said.“It was such a neat expe-rience coming in and having that be my firstencounter with Stanford.”“I’m sure some people wish Brannercould remain the all-frosh house they livedin,”Moneyhun said.“I hope they see thismost recent change in the context of Branner’s history of change.”“I can’t speak for all of the Branneralumni,but I feel that the most commonemotion will be that of disappointment,”Khalfan added.“Branner was a unique placeto live in,and knowing that none of theincoming frosh will be able to get theBranner experience is what bothers memost.”Picazo stressed that Branner’s all-froshquality was an important factor in easinghim into college.Being in the same boat aseverybody else was reassuring,especiallywhen that atmosphere existed in a self-con-tained house with the most freshmen oncampus.“I don’t know if it’s this way now,but atleast back in 1975,we felt [Branner] was thebest freshmen dorm,”he added.“We felt,whether it was or wasn’t,that it was the bestdorm on campus.”However,Picazo understood the logicthat went into making the switch from all-frosh to upper-class,acknowledging thatBranner is similar to an upperclassmenresort given to lucky freshmen.“It was the best freshmen facility,”hesaid.“There’s a little bit of a clout that wewere fortunate to be there.People wouldcomment on how tight the people atBranner were.There was a certain degree of jealousy and envy at the time.”Picazo elaborated on the closeness of thedorm,and how his friendships that were cre-ated then have been maintained throughoutthe years since graduation.Branner alumnifrequently hold reunions amongst them-selves,and Picazo noted that he met some of his closest friends to date during his fresh-man year in Branner.Picazo’s advice to all matriculating fresh-
MASARU OKA/The Stanford Daily
Branner has always been a center of freshman class pride and spirit as the largest all-freshman dorm on campus. Following the implemen-tation of the new housing plan, however, it will have upper-classmen, changing the face of the famous residence.
Wellness Room opens in Old Union
By CALLA HUAN SHENG
After months of preparation andmuch debate surrounding its fund-ing,the Wellness Room opened itsdoors for the first time last night.Located in room 120 of OldUnion,the room will be home toongoing events that promotehealthier,happier and more bal-anced living on campus.Above all,itis intended to be a space for relax-ation open to the Stanford commu-nity.Students filled the first floor of Old Union last night as ASSUExecutives Jonny Dorsey ‘09 andFagan Harris ‘09 took the stage.“We’re really,really excited andfired up,”Harris said.The audience burst into applauseas the Executives thanked the manystudents and administrators whomade the Wellness Room possible,among them Associate Provost for
,page 4Please see
Executives “fired up” over new health resource
JERRY LEE/The Stanford Daily
Wellness Room Coordinators Mary Liz McCurdy ‘09 and Annie Alpers ‘09 show off the Wellness Room. The room’sopening featured a talk by the ASSU Executives and performances by Talisman and Spoken Word.