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At Stanford, the New Applied Science is Social Engineering

By Williamson M. Evers

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently named Stanford University the worst higher education institution for free speech in the United States. Sadly, this problem is only one of many that are eroding student life at Stanford . Over the past several years, Stanford's activist administration has sought to transform almost every element of student life radically. The Office of Student Affairs, which had fewer than 50 employees just three decades ago, now employs more than 400 administrators who micromanage students and infantilize adults who pay for an education at Stanford.

The current assault on student adulthood began six years ago with the adoption of what are euphemistically called Stanford's "Standards of Excellence." With these standards came social contracts and performance agreements that today apply to almost all Stanford organizations. Nonperformance can be assessed and penalized. Stanford's "student customers" have been transformed into something more akin to marionettes.

The latest development is a program called ResX . Each new student now receives a university-mandated assignment during his or her freshman year to a "neighborhood" where students are to remain affiliated for their entire undergraduate careers. This "reimagining" of student life now determines — when students live on campus — where they eat, sleep, and socialize. Administrators are thereby centrally planning what they deem to be acceptable residential cultures.

From ethnic-themed dorms for the "Black Diaspora" and "Chicanx/Latinx" students to apartment buildings promoting "the IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in a Learning community)," students are sorted by singular attributes and shielded from those who look different and think differently. Not too long ago, liberals would have called such school-sanctioned isolation and discrimination "segregation."

But residential life is only one area where Stanford administrators have seized adulthood from the students. Administrators aim to run their social lives as well.


Williamson M. Evers is a senior fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford, and he retired as a Stanford employee in August 2019.

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