Picture this: A room jam-packed with college students, reeking of Natty Light and sweat. A little grinding action in the corner and a girl dancing in the middle of a table, thinking she’s the hottest thing since sliced bread. Boys who look barely old enough to have finished high school wearing neon green shirts that say “sober monitor,” holding the key to popularity and new friends in their hands—aka warm keg beer. The latest hits playing in one room and body-thumping techno music blaring in the basement. Failed attempts to pick up girls and drunken PDAs with complete strangers. The beer pong champ running the table and a floor so disgusting you wouldn’t dare take off your shoes. Welcome to your first frat party.
We want you to enjoy new freshman experiences, but we don’t want you to look like an amateur (There’s nothing worse than a group of upperclassmen pointing at you and chanting “FRESHMAN!”) —so here’s a guide on how to navigate the frat party scene like you’ve been there for years.
DO know which frat house you are at.
Chi Psi, Chi Phi, Phi Psi, Psi U—it gets a bit complicated when they all sound the same. “There’s nothing worse than calling a fraternity by the wrong name,” says Alaine from Miami University (OH). Also, make sure you know how to pronounce the name (Sigma Chi is pronounced Sigma Kye, not Chi like a Chia pet), and are familiar with the frat’s nickname (Sigma Phi Epsilon is usually referred to as Sig Ep). Ask a friend which house you’re going to before you actually get there.
DON’T wear a “new student orientation” lanyard around your neck or carry around a campus map (eek!).
I know it’s convenient to put your room key and ID card in a plastic holder hanging from your lanyard, and this is perfectly acceptable during the day (at least during the first week), but put these important items in your pocket or purse when you go out at night.
DO dress for the theme but don’t go overboard.
Wear something versatile so you can easily party-hop. Think a bright shirt for an 80’s themed party that can double as a glow-in-the-dark shirt at a highlighter party. Do not wear a full sexy cop or bunny costume. Not only will you look out of place if you go to another party, but you will also be a perfect target for real cops looking to catch underage drinkers. Sarah from the University of Michigan says,“My best friend and I once went to a formal themed frat party, but accidently walked up to the wrong frat house and saw everyone wearing pajamas. We thought they had told only us to wear fancy dresses as a joke, but luckily realized the party we were looking for was down the block.”
DON’T go alone.
The last thing you want is to be alone when that creepy senior offers you a mystery drink he got from a closed room. You will probably feel awkward in a huge party setting all by your lonesome, anyways. At the same time, don’t go out in a huge group. Megan, a recent University of Michigan graduate, says, “Don’t go with like 17 people. Go in pairs.”
DO pick one or two friends to go to the party with you.
If you don’t want any trouble at the door, make sure these friends are girls. Or guys that are willing to say they are rushing the frat— brothers usually won’t let in guys who aren’t part of the frat. Alaine says, “Don't try to bring a lot of guys with you to a fraternity house... HINT: they're trying to meet girls.”
DON’T go home with a guy without at least telling your friends first.
If you decide to “hang out” at a guy’s place, let your friends know who the guy is, where he lives and when you expect to be home. If this “hang out” turns into a sleepover, be prepared for the morning after.
DO wear cute, classy clothes and dress for the weather—and the walk.
If it’s 20 degrees and the party is across campus, don’t wear your brand new 4-inch stilettos. I also suggest you invest in a party coat—something cheap that serves the purpose and isn’t a black North Face. I know this from personal experience: I’ve set my North Face down one too many times at frat parties only to find that it’s missing at the end of the night. This will happen when there’s a room full of 20 identical coats. To avoid this, try putting your coat in a secret spot like behind the couch or in a random closet (but don’t forget where you put it!).