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Stanford seeks to expand campus

Art by Cherianne Yoon

In an effort to expand its reach into the Belmont area, Stanford University submitted a proposal to purchase 46 acres of Notre Dame de Namur University’s campus in early October. 

Joel Berman, Director of Community Engagement and Communications for the Stanford/Belmont Project Team, said Stanford entered into an option-to-purchase agreement with NDNU in September of 2021.

The agreement provides Stanford with an option to purchase the property by mid-2025,” Berman said. “Should Stanford ultimately acquire the campus, it will make decisions about specific academic uses and submit detailed and phased development plans to the city. NDNU and Stanford will remain separate academic institutions.”

According to an announcement published by Provost Persis Drell in October, “Establishing a Stanford Belmont campus presents exciting potential opportunities for our educational mission as we pursue the university’s Long-Range Vision that includes more purposeful engagement with the region. As I walked around the campus, I was inspired by its beauty, history and place in the community, and the many possibilities it holds for learning and community engagement.”

Berman said the NDNU property is perfect for Stanford because of its already existing amenities. 

The property’s existing use as a residential academic campus was an important consideration for Stanford, as was its location on the Peninsula, in proximity to public transit and the university’s existing Stanford and Redwood City campuses,” Berman said. 

According to a San Francisco Chronicle, Stanford “envisions adding up to 200 units of housing and 1,350 parking spaces for students, faculty and staff, as well as new buildings for education and community programs.

While Stanford continues to be a prominent influence in the Palo Alto community, few Paly students said they are affected by the expansion. 

Senior Partha Krishna, a Stanford applicant, said he was not surprised by the expansion.

This doesn’t really change my view on Stanford,” Krishna said. “I knew Stanford owned a lot of land around the Bay Area and that they were continuing to purchase land, so it seems like more of the same to me.”

However, senior and Stanford applicant Jonas Pao said the expansion seems beneficial because it might mean more students will be admitted. 

“I think this makes me like the college a bit more,” Pao said. “The applicant pool for all schools has been getting really competitive over the past couple of years, which might be due to greater accessibility of things like the Common App or education as a whole. This is obviously a good trend, but it does make me and a lot of others pretty nervous about the entire application process, so I think expanding campus does ease my nerves a bit.”

Pao said the expansion of college campuses can also mean more admissions.  

“I also think the increase in competitive college applicants is a result of an increase in accessibility of quality elementary to high school education, and expanding the number of students that colleges admit through building projects can allow the high volume of academic students to continue to thrive,” Pao said. “This move is not only good for applicants, but probably also (for) the school, as the higher volume of students will bring in more talent to Palo Alto and the university, so I see this as a win-win.”

But Krishna said while an expansion into Belmont may add another spot for Stanford students to gather, the distance makes it unrealistic for students to gather in that specific location. 

He said, “I think the expansion area is too far away from the main campus to provide a new area for community bonding and meetups.” 

Pao agreed and said he doesn’t see the expansion helping Stanford’s community aspect. 

“Obviously I am not a Stanford student, so I don’t really know how this would change things, but I would guess that student unity might take a hit,” Pao said. “With housing getting more spread out, it might be harder for people across campuses to collaborate and hang out, but that is just me guessing.”

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