The Beastie Boys were right: On fighting for our right (to party)
Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 11:09
Smith often feels more like a boarding school for neurotics than an actual college. Though the beginning of the term brought with it the usual enthusiasm for sisterhood, intellectualism and apple picking, we have now reached the Lord of the Flies-style academic frenzy that generally characterizes our fair campus. It is also the time of year in which Residence Life, perhaps sensing a rise in histrionics, deigns to grant us a formalized respite from the madness in the guise of the official house party.
Unfortunately for us, the Smith party, be it official, Friedman or one of those awful Davis Ballroom affairs, is one of the most awkward attempts at sociability that a young Smithie will ever encounter.
For any naïve first years reading this: don't make the mistake that I did, and assume that the party conversation will revolve around something other than how stressed everyone feels. During the school year, most students are incapable of thinking about anyone but themselves, and a party offers yet another venue for our favorite game of academic one-upmanship. If she's not talking about all the essays she should be writing, the drunken Smithie will be half-heartedly singing along to whatever terrible pop song some WOZQ DJ has decided best to soundtrack our clumsy hook-up attempts. And though ResLife's endless amount of red tape regarding house events is probably meant to protect us from ourselves, it instead neuters all gatherings into something akin to the middle school dances I purposefully avoided during my own prepubescent years.
It's this theme of overprotection that works only to infantilize, rather than empower, us. How exactly can we be "heady, nervy [and] intellectually exciting" when we're never allowed to grow up? I like living in the house system because I appreciate the space and the wooden floors; I'm not going to participate in any damn house points competition. Sorry Smith, but I'm 21, not twelve.
A certain level of tension between child- and adulthood is expected during the college experience, but somehow just about every other college in America manages to let its students throw parties that don't require a wristband, stair shifts or a constant ResLife hallway walkthrough. These policies end up encouraging alcohol abuse rather than preventing it, because the constant fear of ResLife only means that underclasswomen will attempt to drink as much as they can in as short of a time span as possible. Oh Albright House, remember our panicked nights of first year debauchery? To this day, I can barely sniff rum raisin ice cream without shivering and recalling the nights I'd down eleven or twelve shots of the stuff in almost as many minutes, in preparation for another late night stumble to the Quad.
Three years have passed, and I haven't attended one of those parties in ages. Because I am a pretentious cliché, I far prefer dinner parties these days, and I'll be attending one this weekend, missing my own house's party entirely. If Smith can't use my tuition money to feed me food that I want to eat or install shower lights on the third floor of Gillett, the least they can do is let us throw a party without ResLife breathing down everyone's neck, where Le Tigre is played instead of Lady Gaga and where Smithies talk to instead of at each other. But I'm not holding my breath.