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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

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Public Service & Civic Engagement

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Wilbur West, 610 Mayfield, 664 Lomita, Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Jerry, Narnia, and apartments in Mirrielees and EVGR-A Duan Family Hall


Otero is Stanford’s Public Service and Civic Engagement Theme House. 34 residents are first-year students who are interested in learning about and engaging in public service, and 45 residents are upperclass students with a demonstrated interest in public service and civic engagement. As the PSCE Theme House, residents will have opportunities to learn about various approaches to public service, engage in service activities on and off campus, consider how service can be integrated with their academic work, and connect with other students, faculty, and community organizations who are committed to social change efforts. Residents also have an opportunity to make a Cardinal Commitment - a year-long commitment to a public service program or organization. Students receive individual support and guidance from undergraduate student leaders, a graduate fellow, and Resident Fellows as they craft their public service journey at Stanford and beyond - as well as support from our colleagues at the Haas Center for Public Service, the hub of public service at Stanford. Students will have opportunities to form strong relationships with others who share a similar dedication to public service and explore how to create a more just and sustainable world through service. 

Leadership Team

  • Luke Terra, Associate Director, Haas Center for Public Service and Resident Fellow, Otero Public Service & Civic Engagement Theme House
  • Megan Terra, Resident Fellow, Otero Public Service & Civic Engagement Theme House
  • Kemi Oyewole, Doctoral Candidate in Education, and Graduate Fellow in the Public Service & Civic Engagement Theme House 
  • Juliet Brodie, Peter E. Haas Faculty Director, Haas Center for Public Service, Professor of Law and Director of the Community Legal Clinic at the Stanford Law School
  • Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution and FSI
  • Tiffany Steinwert, Dean for Religious and Spiritual Life
  • Grant Parker, Associate Professor of Classics and (by courtesy) Comparative Literature, and Resident Fellow of Toyon Hall
  • Dan Edelstein, Professor of French and (by courtesy) of History and Political Science, and Faculty Director of Stanford Introductory Studies
  • Kristy Lobo, Senior Program Director, Public Service Leadership and Community Partnerships
  • Pete Cerneka, Program Director, Cardinal Commitment
  • Reza Rezvani, Program Director, Student Outreach and Engagement
  • Jo Wong, Director of Program and Organizational Effectiveness

Otero House

View the ResEd house page

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Theme Requirements

Theme overview

The Public Service House is open to all students regardless of experience. To do that, we organize the theme into tracks that pre-assigning students can choose from depending on their interests. The minimum expectation for all theme participants is to attend two events per quarter - from faculty dinners to service trips. For those looking for a more structured experience, the three tracks include: 

Explore. Designed for students new to public service and/or new to Stanford, programming will provide introductions to various issues and organizations on campus and in the community through service trips, guest speakers, and community partner visits. Students in this track have the option to sign up for a 1-unit course, Pathways of Public Service, specifically for Otero residents to learn about various approaches to public service. Taking this course also fulfills the minimum participation expectation.  

Engage. Designed for students who want to engage in ongoing service during their year in Otero, students in this track will make a Cardinal Commitment, a service commitment to an issue or organization. Students can design their own commitment or work with one of the 100+ student service organizations and community partners through the Haas Center. You do not need to have a commitment identified in advance - we can support you in finding one at the start of the year. Students in this track take our 1-unit course, Pathways of Public Service, in Fall/Winter/Spring as a place for learning and reflection on their service experience. Students in this track also participate in an overnight retreat at the beginning of the year. 

Lead. Designed for students who are ready for leadership positions in service efforts, whether in a student service organization, a student staff position at the Haas Center, a Community Service Work Study (CSWS) position with a local community organization, or a leadership position in Otero as a Pathways Ambassador. Students in this track take our 1-unit course, Pathways of Public Service, in Fall/Winter/Spring as a place for learning and reflection on their service experience. Students in this track may apply for a single (see optional question below). Students in this track also participate in an overnight retreat at the beginning of the year. 

*Note that all students who take the 1-unit course Fall/Winter/Spring will be Public Service Scholars, reflecting their commitment to learning about and reflecting on service during their year in residence. 

Commitments in the Public Service House:

  1. A commitment to attending a minimum of two events per quarter or fulfilling the expectations of your selected track.
  2. A commitment to ethical and effective service and to building a reflective and supportive public service community in Otero.
  3. A commitment to the active practice of inclusion, embracing the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and values that make up our community.

Find more information about Otero and Wilbur Hall West visit the Residential & Dining Enterprises website

Exterior photo of Haas house during Spring 2016.