Seriously, Stanford, what the hell? After four hours of playing Tower Defense while having AlcoholEdu open in the other window, after having to sit through six days of Camp NSO-induced flashbacks to high school, where’s the goddamn party? I’ve been in classes for two days now.
That was the dominant part of my thinking at this point freshman year, and the answer is, the party was at SAE on Monday night, and it’s at Sigma Nu and Kappa Sig on Friday. However, if you’re a freshman and you go to either of those places this weekend, you’ll discover a baffling inversion of what you were told throughout high school via every college movie ever made. Namely, the Party that Everyone Goes To is not fun at all. The floor and general demeanor will resemble the New York Stock Exchange and the scene around the keg will remind you of nature documentaries about the watering holes at the Serengeti. You will leave after an hour and discover the meaning of the phrase “painfully sober.”
By the end of week one, you’ll become thoroughly disappointed with the party scene, especially because you’ll discover that the RFs will actually enforce quiet hours. If you make the mistake of talking to any of your friends who went to a liberal arts college, you might start looking up transfer applications. For all the self-congratulating we do about our alcohol policy, it looks downright Mormon compared to anything you might find at Pomona or Swarthmore. None of those places tacitly endorses drinking but still hands out MIPs, or have a silly ban on drinking in common areas that does more to promote social exclusivity than anything else.
But fear not, enterprising freshmen, because even though it may not appear so at first glance, Stanford does hold its own on the party scene; it’s just that the administration wants you to work for it a little, which is foreign territory for a lot of you. Even though I’m sure a solid 16 percent of you were blasting “Shots” and “I Love College” on move-in day, the larger 68 percent of you want to have college stories that would put Bill Clinton to shame but also find the presence of Keystone Light to be a deal-breaker and worry that if you black out twice it means you’re an alcoholic (Note: It doesn’t. It’s never about how much you drink; it’s about how many problems you cause. I went through a period junior year when I couldn’t remember how parties ended. What did that prove? Just that none of my walks home were memorable). To those within that one standard deviation, I say to you: Unless you join the Band, join Gaieties, join an a cappella group that’s not Testimony, write for The Chappie or live in a co-op, parties hosted by fraternities (not sororities) will be your only reliable source for formalized drinking, an inherent part of the college experience since the founding of the University of Oxford.
However, these are not the scary frats that promote misogyny as a core value. Very little to no porn is shot in any of the frat houses here on campus. None of the punch will be half Everclear. They’re on the campus map, which means they’re not the Isla de Muerta from Pirates of the Caribbean. There’s no sketchy line for uncool guys to wait in while girls walk right by, and I am willing to bet a completed transfer application to U$C that not a milligram of Rohypnol is to be found anywhere on campus, not even at SAE.
It turns out most frat bros just love Stanford and want to see it have fun; that’s why they throw those parties, so you might as well go to them. You won’t get carded except for the three or four giant clusterfucks of the year and any party hosted by SigEp. No one at Stanford takes arbitrary rules that seriously unless they’re about computer science. Yeah, Keystone Light tastes like piss, but you know what? You’re not the first person to discover this, so get over yourself. At most schools of this size or larger, the concept of an all-campus party, a.k.a. any one that advertises “SUID to Enter, 21+ to Drink,” is practically a thought crime these days. That said, if you know of a party that serves better alcohol and will have more of your friends at it, feel free to go to that one, but don’t choose Sigma-algebra over Sigma Chi just because the floor’s sticky. Be the change you wish to see in the world. That way, you won’t come home wondering if you really should have picked Williams instead.
Still can’t find the party? E-mail email@example.com and he’ll bring it to you.