“Oh, my God,” an 18-year-old freshman told ABC when asked how many men (and women) she kissed. “I lost count at 20.”
Yep, this is Stanford's biggest (and best?) tradition: “Full Moon on the Quad,” the most fun you'll ever have contracting mono. The festival originated 100 years ago. A senior Cardinal would peck a freshman on the cheek and give her a rose, then the two would head into town to yell at minorities. (Presumably.) It fell out of fashion for a few decades, before being revived in the 80s. Since then, it's only grown in popularity.
Full Moon on the Quad is now in its “modern” iteration, meaning it's become a party so over-the-top it looks like a fever dream from a college sex comedy.
The New York Times recently published a story on the event, calling it an “orgy of interclass kissing” that also provides a “domestic example of a new field in public health 'mass-gathering medicine.'” Full Moon coincides with flu season after all, and then there's mono, which really sucked the life out of me at 19. Stanford administrators have gone to incredible lengths to ensure the party doesn't kill the incoming freshman.
For Stanford, the struggle is: Since officials can’t outlaw it (yes, they have tried), how can they make it safer?
The first step, said Dr. Ira M. Friedman, director of the Vaden Student Health Center, is to make consent paramount. “We try to create an environment in which they don’t feel they must participate in the exchange of oral secretions,” he said.
His center also offers shots against what it can fight: flu and meningococcal meningitis, a rare but sometimes dangerous infection known as “freshman meningitis.”
Paramedics offer dental dams—dental dams, so hot right now!—and what they call the “main line of defense,” mouthwash:
They meet with freshmen before, and ask any with cold symptoms to feel free to watch, but not to kiss anyone.
And they teach safe kissing.
“We tell them, ‘Don’t floss beforehand, don’t brush, don’t do anything that could create microabrasions in your gums for germs to get in,” said Michelle Lee Mederos, a former educator who graduated in 2011. “And we have tables where we offer mints and little Dixie cups of mouthwash.”
Then there's this:
And many kissers wear “bingo boards” naming 25 types of kissees they seek: one from each freshman dorm, for example, a rower or a fencer, a redhead, a pothead, a pair of twins, someone over 6-foot-5, someone who got 2,400 on the SAT, and so on. Bingo is five in a row, blackout bingo is the whole board.
The middle square is always the Tree — the Stanford marching band’s mascot. By unwritten rule, the Tree kisses all comers, of all sexes. Its escorts, the Tree Protection Service, keep count.
“Never kiss the Tree,” warned Amanda Ach, who graduated in 2012. “He’s like Patient Zero.”
Never forget: Nerds party hard, but most importantly—they party weird.