Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Stanford’s War on Social Life

By Palladium

JP’s favorite college story is the night he built an island. In the fall of 1993, JP was a junior in Stanford’s chapter of Kappa Alpha. The brothers were winding down from Kappa Alpha’s annual Cabo-themed party on the house lawn. “KAbo” was a Stanford institution, a day-to-night extravaganza that would start sometime in the morning and continue long after midnight. The girls wore bikini tops and plastic flower leis, and the boys wore their best Hawaiian shirts.

That year, the brothers had filled the entire main level of Kappa Alpha’s house with a layer of sand six inches deep. The night was almost over; the guests were leaving and the local surf rock band had been paid their customary hundred dollars in beer. The only question was what to do with all the sand.

No one remembers who had the idea to build the island. A group of five or six brothers managed the project. One rented a bulldozer; another shoveled the sand off the floor. Their house was not far from Lake Lagunita, the mile-wide lake on Stanford’s campus. The only holdup was the strip of university-owned land between the house and the lake.

It was JP who talked to Stanford’s head groundskeeper and convinced him to let the bulldozer pass. In the end, the groundskeeper admired their spirit. “If anybody asks you about it,” he said, “just send them to me.”

Later that year, the brothers installed a zipline from the roof of their house to the center of the island. They also built a barge, which they would paddle around the lake on weekends and between classes.


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