Stanford Eating Clubs
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
The Stanford Eating Clubs, also known as the Toyon Eating Clubs were founded in 1892 making them the oldest student managed group on the Stanford University campus. Originally organized by students to provide much needed board services during the initial years of the University, they quickly became hubs for social activities. By the 1950s, the all-male eating clubs had become an alternative to the fraternity system. As of the 2009-2010 school year, the eating clubs were abolished. A new dining hall, "Linx," was established in favor of the eating clubs, and Toyon students are part of the campus meal plan system.
The Search for new Facilities
Although the 'Clubs have a strong and enthusiastic membership, their next challenge is to secure a new site where the educational, programmatic, and community atmosphere can continue. In the past few years the Eating Clubs have spent thousands of dollars to create a safe and well maintained environment for its members and staff, though the age of the building makes this task more and more difficult. A new building will be necessary for the Clubs continued contribution to the Stanford community. And that, friends, will help take us well into the next century….
Student Management Training
The Stanford Eating Clubs today provide an excellent training ground for student managers. Each Club now has two managers who collectively form a Board of Directors that in turn hire a General Manager, Financial Manager, and Social Manager. In addition, each club's managers organize individual club events. In this environment, managers learn aspects of the business ranging from inventory and food cost control to staff management and special events planning.
History: The First One Hundred Years
The Stanford Eating Clubs have been a part of the Stanford tradition almost since the University's inception. Throughout their history, they have seen many changes in location, size and character, all the while remaining an integral part of the Stanford community. Although they were founded to provide a dining alternative for students, over the years the Eating Clubs developed into an organization of students looking for a sense of community without the enforced social or political agendas of other campus groups. This unique contribution to the student body is the reason the Eating Clubs have survived decades of change, and why they will undoubtedly continue to attract students in the coming century.
A concise history of the first fifty years of the Stanford Eating Clubs is found in the 1963 Stanford Eating Clubs rush manual:
The Stanford Eating Clubs began before the turn of the century, formed by congenial bands of like minded men who were unhappy with the food and service offered by the University-sponsored Stanford Inn. Even before the first Club was formed, some students were eating at the mess hall of "The Camp," a crude barrack community built on the site of the student union. It was here, in 1894, that the first Club — Brookfarm Eating Club — was founded. Brookfarm lasted only one year, but it was a beginning, and the "eating club" concept continued to grow. Other co-operative eating groups were formed at "The Camp" and in nearby Palo Alto and Mayfield (now the California Avenue area of Palo Alto). "The Camp" was closed in 1902, but it didn't dampen the Club spirit, and the leading students of those days continued to trek off campus three times a day for their meals. In 1907 several of the Clubs with houses in College Terrace — Snell, Welakahao, Marchmount, and Entre Nous — banded together to form the Terrace Club. With one exception, these Clubs all subsequently disbanded. Entre Nous, however, founded in 1901, became the first of the seven present Clubs. The name was changed to Los Arcos in 1922. In 1909 Breakers Club was organized in a small cottage on Stanford Avenue near its intersection with Escondido Road. Breakers remained there for one year before moving to the Frenchman's House, located on Escondido Road. El Campo and El Toro were also founded in these early years of the century. In the fall of 1912 the "Little Quad" was completed and Breakers, El Campo, and El Toro moved into this small U-shaped building next to Encina Hall near the present Club building.
Construction of the Present Building: The "L"
In 1920 Encina Commons was opened, with separate dining rooms for the other Clubs. El Capitan and El Cuadro were organized in 1921 and together with Los Arcos (then still known as Entre Nous) moved to the Commons. El Tigre was organized in 1922, and shared a Commons room with El Capitan.
Until World War II there were three Clubs in the Little Quad and four in Encina Commons. After the War, veterans returned to find the "Little Quad" had been condemned and demolished. Encina Commons was too crowded with freshmen to provide individual dining rooms for each Club, so all seven Clubs were jammed into one large dining room.
Faced with conditions they considered intolerable, the Clubs began a concentrated effort to build their own facilities. A fund drive was launched, proved successful, and in 1951 the present Club building was dedicated on Big Game day.
From the new location, referred to as "The L" due to its shape, the Eating Clubs took on a new dimension, becoming an integral part of the life of adjacent Toyon Hall. Toyon's men were all 'Club members, and the social and intellectual life of the dorm was next door in the dining rooms and lounges of the 'Clubs. The Eating Clubs started many internal traditions, and some that became enduring legacies for Stanford as a whole. For instance, it was an El Toro member (and ASSU president) who began the Axe tradition. The Eating Clubs by this point were seen as an alternative to the fraternity system. They were an all-male organization that explained their philosophy as follows:
Our uniqueness allows us to do our own thinking and planning. We have no one to imitate, no national affiliation to determine our traditions and policies. Our independence, even from University control, gives our members the chance they need and deserve to do with their talents as they wish. [From the Stanford Eating Clubs President's Report, 1974].
The Clubs go Co-Ed
Coeducational housing started on a limited scale at Stanford in 1966. By that time Toyon Hall residents were affiliated only with the Eating Clubs; the University food service option was no longer open. With Toyon coed, the Clubs had to follow University policy of abandoning selective male rushing in all coed units. The last Eating Club to become completely coed was El Toro in 1977.