In their "Open Loop University" concept vision, Stanford introduces "populi" as the next conceptual step after "alumni". Examples of usage follow.

"...we now have a populi of 215,000 ongoing students..."

"Populi could earn C3 by teaching master classes..."

Is this bad Latin? "Populus" does not mean "person as a part of a population/nation", it refers to the population/nation itself, so populus-populi is not similar to alumnus-alumni. Am I missing something?

If so, what would be a better usage for the second example? Perhaps it would help to use a word whose singular actually means a person, e.g. socius, amicus, civis even?

  • 4
    Alumni itself, as referred to former students, is corrupted Latin, IMHO: it is short for antiqui alumni, removing the adjective that gives sense to the concept
    – Rafael
    Aug 7, 2019 at 11:00

3 Answers 3


You are right, this is terrible Latin. They could have said: "we now have a populus of 215,000 ongoing students". If it really has to be Latin, that is.

  • Cheers @fdb! Any thoughts on a better solution? I thought maybe "socius" conveyed what they were going for best. Aug 7, 2019 at 8:44
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    Populus has the advantage of being a collective. Socii might refer to (research) "fellows" or "associates" and thus not include the student body.
    – fdb
    Aug 7, 2019 at 13:12

A traditional term for 'the [student] body' is actually corpus [studiosorum], cf. French corps. English 'body' is no doubt simply a translation of the Latin. So I see no need for a new, synonymous term to describe "ongoing students" (itself hardly a felicitous term). Such a novelty should suggest ignorance to an academic.


The citizens of a populus are indeed the cives, so yes, calling them populi is not correct. I don't quite get it though. They're just students again, discipuli. What makes them a populus?

Open Loop pioneer Phil Pizzo once noted, “Where we once had an association of alumni looking fondly back at Stanford as just one time in their lives, we now have a populi of 215,000 ongoing students who know that Stanford is there—and theirs—throughout a lifetime.

Does this mean that 215,000 alumni have continued engagement with the university? It's unclear, but that's the sense I get.

In this case, what about a word for 'returners'? We could do the perfect participle of either of the two deponent verbs for 'return', which yields reversi or regressi. You even have Latin phrases like regressus domum or reversus domum meaning 'having returned home,' which I think Stanford is trying to get at.

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