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Winter 2001

"Dish" Argument Continues on New Terrain


      Since the plan's implementation, students and community members have voiced opposition to the University's decision. On October 4, 2000, approximately two hundred students climbed the foothill fences and staged a peaceful protest at the Dish (Stanford Daily, Oct. 6, 2000). Many students were protesting the short hours and minimal trail options while others were concerned with possible developments on the foothill lands (this protest occurred prior to Stanford's decision to postpone possible development for twenty-five years). In an opinion published in The Stanford Daily, Tom Oristian, a Stanford junior, states, "All I seek as a runner is the re-opening of the many secondary trails throughout the academic reserve which provide a solitude that the main loop does not provide." (Stanford Daily Online, Oct./Nov. 2000) Those who walk or run their dogs in the Dish Area have voiced the fiercest opposition to the policy. Dog owners argue that the cattle-grazing which still occurs in some sections of the Dish Area is far more detrimental to the foothills than dogs that stay on the trails. In addition, many recreational users of the area feel as if the University has completely tarnished what was once a beautiful hike or jog by posting fifty-five signs along the edges of the trail. Although many of the University's policies have been in place for quite a while, students and community members still object to the paved roads, short hours, and the restriction of dogs while cattle still graze in the foothills.
      A compromise such as this rarely pleases everyone. Stanford's attempt to reconcile the gap between conservation and recreation has been met with plenty of applause and just as much outcry. As certain issues are resolved or addressed, however, many questions remain. For example, will cattle continue to roam the hills freely while dog-owners find new trails? The "Three-Part Conservation and Use Plan for the Stanford Dish Area" is still the University's primary policy. The decisions to repave the Dish Loop and ban development for twenty-five years, however, are recent actions the University has taken which extend beyond the scope of the original plan. As the implementation of the May 2 policy continues to unfold, it will be interesting to witness the administrative struggle between conservation and recreation. In the meantime, the Stanford Dish Area is open from dawn until a half an hour before sunset.

Ben Crowell is a first-year student at Stanford University from Long Beach, Calif. He enjoys the social sciences, including politics and psychology, although he hasn't yet decided on a major. His article is a project for the Community Service Writing Program at Stanford.

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