Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Housing assignments and the outlook for autumn 2020

In our fourth summer newsletter, we describe health and safety plans.

Hello students and families,

Our goal this week is to provide you with information to help you understand what life will be like on campus this autumn. Below our signatures, you’ll find updates on the housing allocation process; COVID testing, contact tracing and quarantine/isolation; measures to protect everyone’s health and safety in our residences and dining halls; and related topics.

First, here’s more on our current planning and considerations in light of the pandemic's worsening conditions both locally and nationally.

The national context and Stanford’s plans

Conditions are worsening by many measures, and several colleges and universities have revised their plans for opening this fall. We’re continuing to plan for having frosh, sophomores and first-year transfers in residence, and for a limited number of in-person classes. However, we’re also looking at what circumstances would prevent us from being able to follow through with these plans.

Because protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority, we continue to evaluate the public health strategies we must take to contain outbreaks and prevent the further spread of the disease. This includes tracking national concerns about testing capacity, in terms of both the availability of supplies and processing time, and state and county health orders that could severely constrain campus activities. Significantly, we are awaiting Governor’s Office guidelines for higher education.  

For these reasons, we may need to change plans. We expect to reach a decision in mid- to late August. If we do need to cancel the on-site aspects of autumn quarter, we will reconfigure our cohort plan so that frosh, sophomores, and first-year transfers do not have to wait until summer to be on campus. 

We will also do all we can in compliance with public health orders to allow as many students as possible who are approved through the special circumstances process (see below) to reside on campus while taking courses online. Even if students with special circumstances are allowed to reside on campus, instruction could move entirely online.

Considerations for students and families

If we’re able to move ahead with returning on-site this autumn, our plans to keep students safe will fundamentally change your campus experience right from the start. We are providing more information here to inform your planning and decision making. 

Families and guests will not be able to enter residential or dining facilities during move-in. We know that families provide critical support for our students, and that moving onto campus is a very special moment. Unfortunately, we will need to take extra precautions this year to protect everyone’s safety. 

Families will be allowed at vehicle drop-off sites near student residences. But then, we ask that families plan on departing campus right away. Exceptions will be made for students with registered accommodations. Unfortunately, given our need to reduce COVID transmission risks, we won’t be able to offer on-campus programming for families this autumn. 

For students, there will be significant restrictions on in-person classroom use, dorm life, social life, guests and travel. While there is much we can do systemically to help protect our campus and our people, we’re asking all students to join our efforts in keeping one another and our campus safe during the pandemic. 

To this end, face coverings and other public health precautions will become a regular part of everyday student life. Meals will be pre-packed and provided for take-out service only. Most classes will meet virtually. Depending on how conditions evolve, county or state orders may require us to return to sheltering in place. That would mean students could be limited to their rooms, exercise outdoors, and shopping for essential supplies. 

Since the pandemic and our responses are swiftly evolving, here are some practical recommendations: 

Please continue reaching out to us

COVID-19 has caused extraordinary uncertainty and anxiety for all of us. We know many of you are struggling with the health and economic impacts of this pandemic. We remain committed to providing information as quickly as we can so students and families have what they need to make decisions. 

Your feedback guides our work. To get involved, share your ideas, or express your concerns, please go here. If you have any questions, please submit a ServiceNow ticket here.  


Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Sarah Church
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Autumn Housing Allocation 

Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) will be reaching out to students shortly with information about the housing assignment process for autumn quarter. Only sophomores and other students who have been granted permission to be on campus will be able to apply for autumn quarter housing through this process.

Incoming frosh and transfer students will be assigned separately based on the information provided on their Approaching Stanford forms.

The senior and junior cohorts coming to campus for winter and spring will go through a different housing assignment process. More information will be sent to these groups during autumn quarter.

Typically, upperclass students apply for housing through a process called The Draw. We will not be holding a Draw to determine autumn quarter assignments. Instead, we will be running a new Autumn Housing Allocation process that places a greater emphasis on ensuring that friend groups can live in the same residence. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it may not be possible for students to visit other residence halls. Additionally, students may be assigned to dining halls based on their housing assignment. We want to be sure you are living in community with friends you have selected.

  • Students will be able to apply in groups of up to eight.
  • All group members will have the same housing choices in the same order. Splitting groups is not permitted.
  • All houses, except for the four ethnic theme houses (Casa Zapata, Muwekma-Tah-Ruk, Okada, and Ujamaa) will be all-frosh or all-upperclass students.
  • Students will rank large complexes (i.e. Lagunita, Governor’s Corner) instead of small houses (i.e. Adelfa, Murray). This will help us ensure that groups can be assigned together in the same houses.
  • We have reduced the number of students living in the traditional residence halls so that all students will have either a single or two-room double. The Suites and Mirrielees will be filled to their normal capacity.
  • The new Escondido Village Graduate Residences, Building A (EVGR-A) will be available for ranking on the housing application. All students in EVGR-A will be assigned to two-bedroom units where each student has a private bedroom and private bathroom. Priority for these spaces will go first to seniors, then juniors, then sophomores.
  • Pre-assignments will only be available for the four ethnic theme houses (Casa Zapata, Muwekma-Tah-Ruk, Okada, and Ujamaa).
  • An R&DE Stanford Dining meal plan is required for all residences except Mirrielees.

Autumn Housing Allocation applications will be due in early August. R&DE Student Housing Assignments will send more information about the process, including resources, to students later this week.

Housing for students with special circumstances

We launched this process on July 6. The application and review processes have ended, and students were notified of their application status on Monday. We had 1,204 students apply, and we were able to approve 73 percent of the requests with relatively equal distribution across class years. Although we are unable to guarantee that students will sustain the same housing assignment throughout the year, we will make every effort to prioritize friendship groups and continuity for students.

Testing, contact tracing and quarantine/isolation

Here is our general direction at this time, and details will come over the next few weeks.

All undergraduates will be tested twice during their first week on campus. These tests will be conducted on campus. Two tests will minimize the likelihood of false negative results. We will ask students to minimize contact with each other during their first week on campus. In addition, we will ask students who test positive to isolate in housing that limits exposure to other community members. We plan to continue to test students periodically throughout their 10-week stay on campus, and before they return to their homes. 

For contact tracing, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and Vaden Health Services have a working agreement: Vaden will perform exposure notification and care management for students, in accordance with county standards. We may ask those who have come in close contact with an individual who tests positive or who otherwise may have been exposed to COVID to quarantine and undergo testing.

Our goal is to prevent the spread of disease and ensure students feel safe and supported. This will include carefully communicating with each student their individual timeline for quarantine/isolation. As needed, we will provide wi-fi, laundry, linens, meal delivery, care kits, disability accommodations, gender-neutral bathrooms, and similar amenities and services to meet students’ daily needs. 

Again, this is a brief overview of our plans. We recognize you may have additional questions or concerns. To reach staff working on this plan, select “Medical Operations” in the feedback form here.

A community commitment to support our collective health and well-being

We are in this together, and together we will protect and support each other. Therefore, we’ll be asking all students to agree to a “campus compact.” Many other campuses are doing the same, including Columbia, Harvard, and Yale. Similarly, Stanford’s compact will include specific expectations regarding matters such as preventative health and hygiene; education, testing and exposure notification; quarantine and isolation; physical distancing, face coverings, and other behavioral expectations; travel; access and guests; and gatherings and social life.

Along with the compact, we’re developing an accountability process for students who do not follow university expectations to achieve a safe and healthy campus community. We will establish a Community Review Panel that can act quickly to review violations and recommend sanctions ranging from education to removal from campus. Given the urgent need to protect public health, there will be no appeal process. Serious, intentional, and/or repeated violations may also be referred to the Office of Community Standards. 

We will be sharing the compact as soon as it is finalized. We know you may have feedback, and we welcome your thoughts. To reach staff working on this plan, select “Policy” in the feedback form here.

Campus life 

The ability for students to gather with friends and as organizations while on campus will depend on state and county public health orders. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that campus events and parties will be allowable, and even smaller gatherings could be limited. 

Having said that, we are exploring what students can do. We have launched working groups for social life, student organizations, Greek organizations, community centers, and BEAM Career Education. All of these working groups will involve students, and share the same goal of making the Stanford experience the best it can be under these difficult conditions. 

The Student Organizations Working Group is currently seeking students who are interested in the following topics:

  • Setting up organizations for success while complying with evolving COVID-19 expectations from the state and county.
  • Developing best practices to support the continuation of our diverse and vibrant student organization community, including supporting recruitment, retention and connection via programming.  
  • Helping students remain engaged when they are not on campus.

Students can volunteer to participate in this or other campus life working groups here.

Protecting student and staff health and safety in our dining halls and residences

On behalf of Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE), Senior Associate Vice Provost Shirley Everett invites students to join us in ensuring the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff and the entire community. This is R&DE’s highest priority. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, R&DE has developed and implemented comprehensive programs to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to provide a positive housing and dining experience for students. It is extremely important that students follow the guidelines and abide by all posted health and safety notices in dining halls and residences.

Dining hall safety measures 

Since March, the R&DE Stanford Dining management team and staff have been hard at work putting in place new processes and procedures to provide a safe and secure dining hall environment for students and for the staff working there. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we have developed the CleanDining program that builds on our already high standards of food safety and sanitation in our dining halls.

Students coming to campus will notice new program requirements at mealtime, including: 

  • All students will have their temperature checked and must wash their hands as they enter the dining halls.
  • All students must wear face coverings and maintain a six-foot physical separation.
  • Nutritious meals will be pre-packed and provided for take-out service only.
  • Meals will be available for students with special dietary needs, including vegan, vegetarian, kosher, halal, gluten-free and allergy friendly.

In addition, R&DE Stanford Dining has put new procedures in place to keep dining staff and the food we serve safe. Dining staff perform the university Health Check and will have their temperatures taken to screen employees for illnesses. Staff must wear face coverings and gloves and wash their hands frequently. Dining halls will continue to receive enhanced cleaning and disinfecting using a hospital-grade electrostatic fogger that disinfects all objects and surfaces.

Visit the R&DE website for more information about the CleanDining program.

Housing safety measures 

R&DE’s custodial and maintenance teams have also modified their operations to protect students and workers. All R&DE staff are required to complete both university and department COVID-19 safety training. Staff wear face coverings and possibly gloves and other forms of personal protective equipment, depending on the work being done. 

Common spaces (such as hallways and bathrooms) and high-touch areas (like door knobs and elevator buttons) receive enhanced cleaning and disinfecting twice daily, seven days a week. If a student submits a work order, maintenance workers will ask the student to leave the room while the work is being done in support of physical distancing.

ASSU survey on grading policy for 2020-21

The survey remains open. You can take it here. The ASSU will share the results with the Faculty Senate, which is expected to make a decision on grading policy for 2020-21 by the end of July.

The mailing list for this newsletter 

We have updated our mailing lists to include all undergraduates including those on leave, and both the primary and secondary emergency contacts for each undergraduate, as identified by the student in Axess.

We want to hear from you!

Just a reminder in case you missed this above: To get involved and/or share your ideas, please go here. If you have any questions, please submit a ServiceNow ticket here.