Monday, November 1, 2010

Nick - Party!

Forgive me for beating a dead horse, but it's time we talked about college parties. (Sorry Allegra.) Now, I've been to a few parties in my day, but I want to talk a little bit more about the huge frat parties that are the norm here.

The disclaimer you should have here is that I'm awful at parties. Remember that post I wrote about parties a long time ago that I linked to up there? I'm the guy who doesn't talk to anybody or make any friends. Anyway, despite this, I love a good party just as much as anybody else. But that's kind of what I'm here to talk about.

The last party I went to was huge. The music was so loud you couldn't have a coherent conversation with anyone. The beer pong room was designed to accommodate many games in a condensed and efficient space. It was, by all college standards, a grand party.

And, for me, it was just about the least exciting thing I can imagine. It was impossible to have a conversation with anyone. If you took away the music and the mass of people, you still wouldn't be able to have a conversation with anyone; they were too drunk to say anything coherent.

Now, I'm not that naive. I know that most of the people who go to these parties only care about hooking up and the like. But man, let me tell you, it's pretty vicious. There are girl who are too drunk to be understood when talking; there are guys who walk around and try to press their lips against any girl who looks too drunk to protest.

It's all basic economics. Frats provide the beer in exchange for women; but it's not really that straight forward. There are a couple of points I want to make about the cultural impact here. Let's start by talking about a guy I know.

His parents wanted him to have everything; they send him packages of food regularly because the worry about him. He was quiet and shy. He used to make his bed every morning. He would study diligently, for hours a day. And now he ends most of his nights drinking at frat parties. This culture is hurting people. It's become a norm; it's not even thought of as irresponsible or unusual among college kids anymore. How else are you supposed to make friends? It's hard to find parties that focus on anything other than excessive drinking. It sucks people in with social pressure.

That's the kind of effect this is having. Now let's think about the cause for a moment. Again, this drink-till-you-drop culture is all focused around hooking up. This seemed really strange to me for awhile; if people want to hook up, why don't they just do it? Why is the drinking necessary? But I think I understand.

If you just have sex with guys, you're a slut. Why? I don't know, we decided that it's that way. "But," we say, "if you're drunk, you weren't in control of yourself; you weren't really responsible." It's become more than an enabler; it's become the only means of expressing sexuality without being judged, because our culture isn't cool with being open about sexuality.

And I wish I had more to go on, but that's the end of the paper trail. I don't agree with you, partiers, but I understand why you're doing what you're doing, be it because of social pressure, the lack of alternatives, or the enablement that alcohol gives you. And I guess to a degree I pity you.


p.s.: I'm not trying to imply that drinking in itself is bad; it definitely has it's place. I'm just discussing the scenarios in which it is abused or dangerous.

EDIT: I wasn't clear enough about what my point was. There's nothing wrong with drinking. There's nothing wrong with partying. The point I'm trying to make here is that drinking culture here has been taken too far; beyond the realm of fun parties or just making connections at fraternities. It's become a serious problem for some people and it's become difficult to get into the fraternity scene without involving heavy drinking. I'm stating that our culture, specifically at U of I, has a drinking problem, and it's seriously capable of hurting people and encroaching on the rich culture that we could have. While drinking at parties can be fun, it has been so overblown that people are encouraged to drink a dangerous amount.


  1. the title also sounds like a response to the title of the previous post. ;)

  2. I was considering writing something along these lines in the near future, but I wasn't sure where/how/when. Thank you for proving that there are more than 6 human beings with this opinion.

  3. Girls aren't not sluts if they drink first. I'd say it's just an enabler.

  4. I agree with the standpoint you're taking, but I don't think either of us really know the mindset and motivations, etc. You and I are new to this. I don't think it can be simplified easily.

    - Conor

  5. Thanks for the feedback, guys.

    Conor: obviously you're correct and I've made some gross generalizations and oversimplifications. The purpose of this post wasn't to discuss why individuals exhibit certain behavior, but to analyze the broader social implications and societal impacts of the party mentality. I had to cut some corners on the micro level in order to keep focused on the large-scale effects.

  6. Sorry man, but I think you're oversimplifying way too much. There are definitely people who go to parties to drink. There are also people who go to parties to hook up. And I don't know how it is at the frats you've been to, but in my experience, frat parties are very much about meeting new people and making connections. Sure, I could just be at a "nicer" campus than some others, but I just don't think you should throw around the word "pity" too flippantly.

    As a freshman, our worldview is a little narrow. We see fellow freshmen obsessed with this recent ability to go out and drink because they can, and at some places abuse the "free drinks for freshmen" rule, but there are a lot of freshmen who are already more mature than that. And given time, as we progress through college, I think we'll find that more freshmen sort of wise up and mellow out. And yes, there will still be those who go out to black out every night. But I guess my point is, people who go to parties are not always bad people with bad intentions. There are milder reasons other than sex and inebriation to interact with people at a fraternity.

  7. Brendan: My intention, which I stated several times, is not to judge people who drink. I'm talking about the people who DO get blackout drunk every night, and who DO get pressured into these things. I'd imagine your culture is a lot different at Butler, but here frat parties are like this; our party culture is very large and very drinking-oriented. Obviously I don't dislike people who drink. I drink occasionally. And yes, I did a lot of simplifying; but again, that's because this post isn't about every person who drinks, it's about the culture and this mass party mentality. While your experience with party culture may differ from mine, I'm writing from my campus and my perspective on what I've seen going on around me.

  8. I definitely agree with Nick in the fact that there are many people like that. And I know he doesn't dislike people who drink or whatever and I understand where he's coming from. Certain people can be really annoying if they have reached the point where they cannot have fun without being drunk. I know people like that and it's really annoying to be around them at times. In that sense, drinking really has crippled a part of our generation's sense of fun. But if you can maintain your ability to have a good time while sober, then to me, drinking is ok. I think it's just those certain people who give it such a bad name to people who don't drink, because the only stories that seem to be told about drinking are the crazy ones where really stupid and fucked up shit occurs because someone didn't know their limit. Know your limit, and for fuck's sake, drink for the right reasons. I know "drinking for the right reasons" is a weird concept, but seriously.

  9. Don't get super fucked up because you failed a test or your girlfriend broke up with you or whatever. No matter how many drunk people you make out with, I really doubt it's gonna fix anything. People just need to be more chill about it. I realize that I'm not exactly a model for the ideal drinking situation and amount that I'm talking about, but at least I grasp the basic concept. I wish more people would. Good post, Nick.

    -Classic Brian

  10. this is super legit. I like to be thought-provoked.

  11. I think it's really important to take in the context of this post. Nick wrote it a day or two after Halloween frat parties. The nature of a Halloween frat party (I think in most cases) is not to meet new people and make connections, but to drink and hook up. In this case, his post makes a whole lotta sense.