X is alcohol-soaked dynamite
September 22, 2011 9:57 PM
I have a confession to make: I am a frosh week unbeliever. In my first year, and in all the years I’ve been around since then, I’ve been unable to escape the sense that frosh week is much less about orientation to the new and scary world of living away from your parents and much more about indoctrination into a culture of divisiveness and drinking.
Don’t get me wrong; a little bit of indoctrination is a good thing. Otherwise, how would I know, deep down in my soul, that getting an X-ring on December 3 will be the pinnacle of not only my degree but my entire life?
How else would I learn that going to StFX is not only about getting an education but also about joining a huge, insane, global family, a family that will absolutely accost you at airports and restaurants to talk about their experience at X?
But the other, darker side of this indoctrination isn’t likely to appear in any alumni newsletter. In my frosh week, in addition to the valuable lessons above, I learned that the highest aim of any good Lane Hall resident is to stop, drop, and stumble – unless they’re beating up on someone who has the misfortune of living in Fraser.
I learned that there are probably three-dozen euphemisms for alcohol that some house officials and members of O-Crew might use to furtively encourage frosh to drink before so-called “dry” events.
I learned that it was perfectly acceptable for members of one house to chase down, surround, and scream at the members of another house, either with the official frosh week cheers, or with “secret,” unofficial cheers, which are invariably obscene, sexually-explicit and sexist. I learned, in my first week at university, that a student in my residence had very likely been “roofied” without ever leaving her own building, and that there wasn’t much anyone could do about it except suggest that we girls keep our drinks covered.
The bottom line is that, as it exists today, frosh week at StFX emphasizes inter-house antagonistic rivalry and a constant party mentality to the detriment and even danger of the whole freshman class.
Official activities, which are mandated to stay (more or less) clean and dry are undermined by the actions of senior students who are more interested in getting impressionable 17-, 18- and 19-year-old frosh to like and look up to them than they are in their safety and well-being. I don’t want to come off as a total grinch. Fun is clearly not the enemy here. A frosh week culture that values frequent and extreme intoxication, sketchy sex, and house rivalries over student safety and school unity is the real culprit.
I realize that many people love their frosh week experience, and that’s great. I get that lasting friendships are made, great times are had, and that the ability to speak audibly is happily given up for the cause.
I also realize that some of StFX’s frosh week programming is designed to give students the tools they need to get through university happy, healthy, and with an actual degree at the end of it. And, some of it is awesome. Programs like Playfair, a safe-sex presentation that doesn’t pull any punches, and one-on-one academic advising are, or should be, the hallmarks of a successful orientation.
I just wish there was more of the good stuff. And, I wish that we could lose the binge drinking and name-calling.