Carpe Fraternitatem: Seize the Frat Party

Take advantage of new opportunities with confidence, openness, and a little dash of carpe fraternitatem.

By Katherine Weaver, Columnist

I did not go to a single party in high school. I’m not talking about birthday parties, Halloween parties, or group hangouts, of course. I’m talking about the Hollywood-style, alcohol-laden, drug-riddled, bass-blasting, head-pounding, Jesus-Christ-how-are-your-parents-okay-with-this ragers featured in the likes of Euphoria and Booksmart. At the time, I attributed this to the fact that I went to a Nerd School, but by the time graduation rolled around, I had to admit to myself: these parties were happening, and for whatever reason, I was never invited. I wasn’t even hearing about them. So, in a move right out of a coming-of-age movie, I made myself a promise: When I got to college, I was going to go to a frat party.  

To my surprise, I managed to achieve this goal in O-Week, when I met two girls at MSI night who lived in my building and who, in the truly magical spirit of O-Week, invited me to go with them to Phi Gamma Delta, or “Fiji.” I hated every second of it. The music was too loud, everyone was drunk and boisterous, and I stayed for an hour, stone-cold sober, before I let one of the girls know that I was walking back to the dorm to shower and go to bed. I was proud of myself for giving it a shot, but I decided that ultimately, frat parties were not my scene. 

Despite my convictions, though, I began to suspect that I hadn’t quite gotten the proper “frat experience.” In the next few weeks, I met dozens of other first-years and soon realized that, while frats may not be for everyone, those who actually wanted to go usually had a good time. And I wanted to go. Beside wanting to venture outside of the box I had created for myself in high school, I wanted to taste that feeling of confidence and freedom that my peers seemed to find at frat parties. So, in another attempt at creating a classic college experience, I decided that, come winter quarter, I was going to try another frat party—and this time, I was going to do it right. 

I asked a close friend if she wouldn’t mind taking me with her the next time she went out to the frats, and one fateful night in winter quarter, she told me she was going with a group to Alpha Delt. That night, I blocked out two hours to pick an outfit, do my makeup, and make a game plan, which I retroactively named Carpe Fraternitatem: Seize the Frat Party. The best way to figure out if frat parties were really for me, I determined, was to ensure that I immersed myself in a pure, classic frat experience. And to do that, I would follow my friend’s lead, stand with confidence, and say “yes” to anything that didn’t immediately make me nauseous with terror. 

At the entrance of almost any frat party, there’s usually some frat guy outside the door who for whatever reason has to make it difficult for you to get in. This was the biggest reason I hadn’t tried going out to a frat party again after O-Week—after the disaster at Fiji, I didn’t feel like I was the kind of person who was allowed to go to frat parties. I thought I was too academically minded, too socially awkward, even too obviously queer, and I was certain it showed on my face. But that night, with carpe fraternitatem echoing in my ears, I stood by my friend with the confidence of someone who was certain that they belonged there. And they let me in.  

That night lives in my memory as a blindingly bright spot of my life—I danced, I laughed, I made new friends, and I even kissed a pretty girl. It was everything I didn’t get out of my first frat in autumn quarter, and it was incredible. Just by deciding that I was going to have a good time and committing myself to the experience fully, I completely changed the nature of the night.  

Here’s the thing about carpe fraternitatem—it’s not really about the frat party. In my mission to fulfill what I thought was the ideal college experience, I gained something much more valuable: an attitude that I could and still use as my guiding principle for college life. Carpe fraternitatem is about knowing what you want and going for it. It’s about deciding that you deserve to be in a space and moving with the confidence that comes with that realization. It’s about grabbing new experiences by the horns, about seizing opportunities, because when it comes down to it, life is all that we have, and I’d rather spend mine trying new things I might end up hating than wondering what could have been.  

I’ve been to several frats since that night at Alpha Delt (including Fiji again!), and I can confirm that carpe fraternitatem wasn’t just a one-hit wonder—getting into that say-yes, have-fun, I-belong-here mindset makes a massive difference in my enjoyment of both frat parties and other events—coffee breaks, starting new courses, Career Advancement events, and even office hours with professors. College can be seen as, for all intents and purposes, one giant frat party, with all the ups and downs that come with it. There will be times when you’re on top of the world (or the table) living your best life, and there will be times when you’re crying in the bathroom. But at the end of the night, the most important thing will be whether or not you enjoyed yourself and did what made you happy. So seize that frat party, and seize the innumerable opportunities that will come with entering college. The only thing that truly matters is that your college experience is one that you can be proud of. Are you really going to let the frat guy outside the door stop you from making the most of it? 

Katherine Weaver is a second-year in the College.