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Week 5: Winter Quarter Updates, Election Resources

Five ways to cope with election stress, Flex Term opportunities and current campus conditions.

Hello students and families!

We will cover two important topics this week: the U.S. elections and our plans for winter quarter 2021. We’ll focus on the elections in the body of this message, and then we’ll provide updates on campus conditions and winter quarter below our signatures. We will cover:

  • Information for all students regarding living on campus this year. 
  • Undergraduate Student Research Grants and Cardinal Quarter fellowships. 
  • The winter quarter housing allocation process (it will begin tomorrow).
  • The prevalence of COVID at Stanford (the numbers are quite low). 
  • Reported Campus Compact violations (none have been forwarded to the review panel).
  • A quick summary of other guidance for students living here.

But before we proceed, here’s some very good news in case you missed it: 

Stanford economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson have received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. They “used their insights to design new auction formats for goods and services that are difficult to sell in a traditional way, such as radio frequencies … Their discoveries have benefited sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world,” said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in their statement. Please join us in congratulating Professor Milgrom and Professor Wilson!

Stress, self-care and the election

Now, on to this year’s U.S. elections. Many of you may be voting for the first time. For those who are not eligible to vote, engagement in social change movements may be your mode of active engagement. This has been a difficult year! We would like to offer some tips and resources.

StanfordVotes Instagram post showing California student Jessica Nguyen, '23.

Make a plan. If you haven’t registered to vote yet and are eligible, don’t delay, as voter registration deadlines are approaching in many states. Check out StanfordVotes for additional information. Become familiar with the candidates running for office and the issues prior to arriving at your designated polling place, and prepare for the likelihood of delays. For those who live locally in Santa Clara County, you may vote in person or drop off your ballot at Tressider, an official polling place, from October 31 through Election Day. Mail-in voting is also an option. 

A list of 5 ways to cope with election stress and a vote lapel pin. This is a clickable link.

Acknowledge your feelings. You may be experiencing a range of emotions during this time and after the election. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and acknowledge that your emotions are real and valid. Others around you may not share the same points of view as you do. Find people to connect with and healthy outlets where you can express how you feel. We may not know the election outcome on November 3, which may intensify your feelings and lead to distress for yourself and those around you.

Respect diverse ideas. Stanford aspires to be a community in which an intellectually rigorous and fact-based approach gives us common ground for fruitful discussions, even about the most contentious topics. We are in a period of extreme political divisiveness yet we must not allow this to undermine our commitment to being a place where academic freedom, respect towards one another and a diversity of ideas are embraced. This may be especially challenging as you try to manage the charged political climate with those in your immediate surroundings, who may hold different belief systems, and is further exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Be safe. Participating in this election may be more challenging this year with the need to take COVID-19 precautions. Wear your mask and bring your hand sanitizer to the ballot box if voting in person and follow social distancing guidelines. Demonstrations frequently lead up to and follow an election. We recognize that it is important to gather in solidarity and support in times of great significance, or great tragedy. We can offer assistance in helping you plan, facilitate and lead community gatherings that align with our broader university values. You’ll find more information on this below, under “campus resources.” Please be safe as you exercise your right to be civically engaged.

Take care of yourself. While it’s tempting to stay glued to social media or the TV for the latest update on election news, try to maintain your normal routine and engage in health promoting activities. Fostering balance in your life is especially important during this time as well as maintaining connections with others. We encourage you to seek connection and ground yourself in communities that foster a sense of safety and support.

Campus resources

If you find yourself struggling or unsure of your feelings and want to talk it out, Stanford support services are here for you.

If you take away one thing from all of this election information, we hope it’s that we are here for you. Staff in all of these offices are ready to help.  

We want to hear from you

You can reach us here with your general suggestions, comments and concerns about this unique year in several ways. If you have a personal question, please submit a ServiceNow ticket. For academic planning discussions and related questions, please make an appointment with your academic advisor.

Best wishes,

Susie & Sarah

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Sarah Church
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Re-Approaching Stanford for Winter Quarter

Important information for all students

  • No student is required to return to Stanford for an in-person quarter. 
  • Undergraduate students must live on campus in student housing in order to attend on-campus classes or participate in any on-campus activities.
  • Undergraduates must be enrolled to live on campus (during the spring and summer, students can appeal to live on campus during their Flex Term if they are involved in a full-time on-campus opportunity such as an Undergraduate Student Research Grant or a Cardinal Quarter fellowship).
  • In-season, student athletes approved to participate in contact activities and who live off-campus may be permitted for on-campus activities in the Athletics Zone only, in accordance with county guidelines.

Flex term opportunities: Undergraduate Student Research Grants & Cardinal Quarter fellowships

Expand your learning beyond the classroom with full-time, Stanford-funded opportunities offered through Undergraduate Research Student Grants and Cardinal Quarter service fellowships. Join a faculty member’s cutting-edge research project, partner with a local or global community organization to address issues of inequity and injustice, or receive a grant to pursue project ideas keeping you up at night. 

Students are advised to plan accordingly and save their Flex Term for the spring or summer quarter if they are considering applying for any full-time research, public service, or other opportunities sponsored by Stanford. Students only receive one Flex Term per academic year. Students must be using their Flex Term during the quarter that they engage in any full-time, Stanford-funded opportunity. For the 2020-21 academic year, full-time undergraduate research and Cardinal Quarter service opportunities are only available in spring or summer.

Winter housing allocation process begins this week

Residential & Dining Enterprises Student Housing Assignments will email all students eligible for winter quarter housing this Friday, October 16, with details on the assignments process, and housing and dining options. Housing applications will be due 5 p.m. PDT October 30.

Current campus conditions

We are so grateful for everything students are doing to keep one another and our campus as safe as possible. These efforts are reflected in the low number of COVID positive cases on our campus, as shown on this dashboard. We are also hearing that students are reaching out to one another to address safety concerns and to help remind each other about our responsibilities to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, and refrain from gathering.  

When students have not been able to connect in this way, they have reported their concerns to us using this form. To date, 139 alleged public health violations have been reported. None have been forwarded to the Compact Review Panel. Instead, the university was able to respond by inviting students to follow-up conversations with RDs, CDs, GLO Deans, or Stanford Athletics, aligning with these guidelines. We have also shared community-wide messages in residential spaces and academic departments. 

Other aspects of campus life

A summary of our current protocols relating to campus life is available here. Stanford continues to gradually adjust campus protocols as conditions permit. For example, if current conditions hold, we are planning to offer a greater number of in-person classes, and to offer these classes indoors. 

Our faculty and departments are updating which classes are in-person versus remote, as the on-campus student cohort for winter 2021 changed after the schedule was published this summer. We are working with our faculty to have this updated schedule ready for students well before enrollment opens on December 6. 

Here are links to more information for other aspects of campus life:

Illustration of Old Union with play button. This is a clickable link. Click to play the video.


You can reach us here with your general suggestions, comments and concerns about this unique year in several ways. If you have a personal question, please submit a ServiceNow ticket. For academic planning discussions and related questions, please make an appointment with your academic advisor.