Today’s sorry state of Lake Lag makes me nostalgic.
I gaze out upon today’s pseudo-marshy wasteland and recollect it in its former glory – a lake, a real lake, full of sailboats, canoes, and windsurfers. Students lounge by the shore and toss Frisbees in the shallows. A warm breeze teases the pages of my textbook which I’ve all but cast aside as I bask in the wave-reflected sunlight.
Granted, as a current student, I’ve never had those experiences. But as Stanford Magazine oh-too-tantalizingly reminds us, Lake Lag was once a year-round wonderland, the perfect final capstone to our beloved Camp Stanford. Can you imagine having sailing classes right on campus? Being able to jump in a kayak to let off some post-midterm steam? Taking a morning swim beside a Dish-silhouetted sunrise? Given the recent surge in student wellness efforts, I’m surprised Lake Lag hasn’t been a top priority.
I want Lake Lag back. Stanford is wasting what could be, should be, a wonderful resource on campus. I understand that there are environmental, safety, and monetary concerns that have prevented Lag’s return, but I have a targeted plan for restoring our lovely lake. Grab your swim-trunks and your flippy-floppies, ’cause I’m on a mission.
The widely-accepted reason Stanford won’t refill the lake is Ambystoma californiense. The “vulnerable” (not endangered, just “vulnerable”) California tiger salamander. Personally, I have yet to see any such creature in all my Lag excursions, but I respect its right to be protected. That said, the California tiger salamander’s natural habitat is “large, fishless vernal pools or similar water bodies” which, to me, is just another way of saying “a habitat exactly like the past Lake Lag.” Um, lame.
Additionally, there are numerous locations within our county that constitute the salamander’s proper habitat, and species relocation is becoming an increasingly viable and easy option. California’s Wildlife Services “relocates animals and disperses numerous birds each year,” and given that Lake Lag wasn’t the salamanders’ original habitat to begin with, it kind of makes sense that they should go home to their natural environment. Indeed, herpetologists argue that salamanders are even more endangered in the Lake Lag habitat because they have to migrate across Junipero Serra Boulevard and are often killed by cars. Fail. Stanford should definitely consider revising its Habitat Conservation Plan to move the salamanders to a safer, off-campus location where they won’t serve as constant roadkill.
Safeguarding Against Stupidity
This is perhaps the most challenging obstacle. Yes, sometimes people are stupid in and around water. Yes, there’s an associated liability. But supposedly we’re here because we’re smart. Stanford students are, by and large, intelligent and responsible citizens with a heightened awareness of the hefty costs of misconduct: we’ve worked too hard and too long to get here to screw it up.
I understand that moral imperative alone is a naive safety policy. But I believe that if coupled with appropriate protocols and firm enforcement, the re-institution of Lake Lag would be both logistically possible and legally feasible. Stanford could extend the existing AlcoholEDU program to include water safety as well. Demonstrated swimming proficiency would be a prerequisite to usage of Stanford’s boats. The increased demand for student lifeguards would provide more on-campus and work-study jobs for our financial aid program. Finally, a zero-tolerance hazing policy on frats and sororities would make unsafe shenanigans wildly unattractive.
The protocols are obvious and their implementation would be straightforward.
Funding Camp $tanford
The cost of keeping Lag full has been cited as another deterrent for restoring Lake Lag. To which I respond: poppycock. With the preponderance of happy Stanford alumni with fond memories of Lake Lag, the fundraising effort would be a simple appeal to nostalgia and school pride. Can you name another university with a baller lake right on campus? Right.
And I’m willing to sell out if that means Stanford can regain its former Endless-Summer-esque glory. Call it Arrillaga Atoll, Bing Bay, Packard Puddle – I don’t care, just give us back the lake!
Bring back the glory days. Bring back Lake Lag.