Create virtual dorms at Stanford University

Create virtual dorms at Stanford University

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Jiangfeng Chu started this petition to Stanford University

As the start of the 2020-2021 academic year at Stanford draws near, many frosh face uncertainty in the upcoming autumn quarter. Although we have experience learning remotely from the previous semester, finding new friends at a new school is an entirely different scenario. Without roommates and in-person classes, it’s likely that simply engaging in a meaningful conversation will become a difficult task.

I’ve seen many posts on the official Stanford Facebook group advertising Groupmes and Snapchat groups for students with shared interests, and even a Google Doc listing these groups. I think they can serve as a viable replacement for clubs and student organizations. But clubs have limited reach and tend to stratify the student body. What we’re missing is the dorm-style community that includes all frosh, even those who aren’t as active on social media, and brings students of different backgrounds and different interests together.

What if we could group students as roommates in virtual dorms to simulate the college experience before the pandemic? Stanford has traditionally kept the identity of first-year roommates a secret until orientation, a practice that is said to cause some confusion, but also helps students forge lifelong relationships. Virtual dorms would preserve the elements of surprise and randomness and let roommates learn from their differences. Students taking a gap year could also join groups to meet their future classmates a year early.

Each dorm room could house 8-10 students to ensure efficient communication and a high likelihood of finding new friends. Roommates could plan group projects to build collaboration and encourage genuine interactions. If something doesn’t go as expected, a student could request to switch groups and be matched into a new dorm.

But this would be a daunting task without the resources of the university. Stanford has access to our Approaching Stanford forms, including all of the letters we wrote to our future roommates. With this information, the administration should be in a better position to assign “housing” to all undergraduate students, regardless of where they live.

Please share this petition with your fellow Stanford classmates, especially those who plan to enroll remotely this upcoming academic year. This is a friendly message to university administrators, aiming to address an issue they may not have considered. Without Stanford’s assistance, those of us who are staying at home face the possibility of spending a quarter or even a year cut off from the rest of our classmates, depriving us of an essential element of college life. Join me in asking Stanford University to provide virtual dorm assignments for freshman students who have been forced to enroll remotely!

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