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Pirate’s Code Rewritten: “How to Remain Happy About the End of your Undergraduate Career”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tulane chapter.

Do you ever think to yourself: I literally hate it here. I wish I could live in a silly little world, with silly little rules that aren’t the ones I currently am legally obligated to live by.” Me too. As a graduating senior, there are a lot of rules that I wish I didn’t have to follow, or social pressures I wish I could just forget about like the big ol’ “What are you doing after college?” and “Are you excited to graduate?” standard questions that keep popping up. After doing some research for a class on a different political structure rather than our democratic state, I happened upon several Pirate’s Codes which were rules written and signed by whole crews of men that everyone had to abide by. Though I am not an 18th-century pirate (I have all of my teeth), I decided that maybe writing a Pirate’s Code of my own would be helpful for me for these last couple of months before graduation. This way, maybe adults over the age of 30 would stop asking me questions pertaining to my fast-coming future. My solution is easier to understand and arguably hilarious. My code would be morally sound(ish) and based on the simple logic that any man, woman, child, or general personage of the state can understand. Let us rewind the clock, and look at the swashbuckling shenanigans of Captain Bartholomew Roberts, and his men who created a social code, agreed to by all men in the pirate crew, in the early 18th century. This code served as my inspiration for my senior year code. The social code is as follows: 

“ I. Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity (not an uncommon thing among them) makes it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.

II. Every man to be called fairly in turn, by list, on board of prizes because, (over and above their proper share) they were on these occasions allowed a shift of clothes: but if they defrauded the company to the value of a dollar in plate, jewels, or money, marooning was their punishment. If the robbery was only betwixt one another, they contented themselves with slitting the ears and nose of him that was guilty, and set him on shore, not in an uninhabited place, but somewhere, where he was sure to encounter hardships.

III. No person to game at cards or dice for money.

IV. The lights and candles to be put out at eight o’clock at night: if any of the crew, after that hour still remained inclined for drinking, they were to do it on the open deck.

V. To keep their piece, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service.

VI. No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man were to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he was to suffer death; (so that when any fell into their hands, as it chanced in the Onslow, they put a sentinel immediately over her to prevent ill consequences from so dangerous an instrument of division and quarrel; but then here lies the roguery; they contend who shall be sentinel, which happens generally to one of the greatest bullies, who, to secure the lady’s virtue, will let none lie with her but himself.)

VII. To desert the ship or their quarters in battle, was punished with death or marooning.

VIII. No striking one another on board, but every man’s quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. (The quarter-master of the ship, when the parties will not come to any reconciliation, accompanies them on shore with what assistance he thinks proper, and turns the disputant back to back, at so many paces distance; at the word of command, they turn and fire immediately (or else the piece is knocked out of their hands). If both miss, they come to their cutlasses, and then he is declared the victor who draws the first blood.)

IX. No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared one thousand pounds. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have eight hundred dollars, out of the public stock, and for lesser hurts, proportionately.

X. The Captain and Quartermaster to receive two shares of a prize: the masterboatswain, and gunner, one share and a half, and other officers one and quarter.

XI. The musicians to have rest on the Sabbath Day, but the other six days and nights, none without special favour. “

After reading through the written rules of Captain Roberts and his men, at first glance, sounds like general pirate tomfoolery and encourages mass chaos. I will commend the pirates for their unexpected morality. In article nine they almost seem to set up an established social welfare for any injured pirate. Additionally, they give their peers a day off and agree to share earnings equally (as written within their very first statute). The pirate code is deeply fascinating and the fact that it is a social contract, as all members of the ship have to sign it, makes it (possibly) stronger than societies where people are just born into rules they don’t agree with. Like… Why can’t I stay in college forever? Why must I pursue an MA at my dream school next year and drop some serious money on student loans? Why must my boyfriend live in California and not in New Orleans with me?

My argument here is that if pirates can create a successful code, why can’t I? In order to amend these rules for my own senior-ly and responsibility-forgetting purposes, a major rewrite needs to occur, because as these rules stand now, I wouldn’t want to follow them. So, if in my perfect world I could, I’d have my own code for my “shipmates”:

  1. Thou shalt not bring up graduation, post-graduation, the expense of grad school, or the distance from which we will all be living from another.

2. Thou shalt live in a fantasy world that is completely delusional until the moment we all grab our diplomas and must accept the real world.

3. Thou shalt not discuss plans for graduation until necessary to avoid compromising the stress of everyone who is graduating in the friend group.

4. Thou shalt eat plenty of baked goods and drink plenty of adult libations for when the mood is dismal and everyone is worried about completing the bucket list before we graduate.

5. Thou shalt remember to do laundry at least once a week so we can all look our best for the last month of collegiate presence.

6. Thou SHAN’T refuse a request to accompany any friend to a social outing.

7. Thou SHAN’T eat bad food while in the city of New Orleans. I don’t care if your wallet is hurting, there are so many places to eat and we have to try them all.

8. Thou shall remain an academic weapon – We only have like a month and a half left. We can do it.

9. Thou shalt remember to take a million pictures and love how you look in all of them because they’re memories and we’re all hot.

10. Enjoy it while it lasts, and embrace the bittersweet.

While my Pirate’s Code reads more like a Last Hurrah of Senior Year code, I believe that the world would (ironically) be a better place if all of my family and friends could follow this for the last couple of months. And an almost congrats to the seniors everywhere.

(If you’re interested in learning more, please see The Calculus of Piratical Consent: The Myth of Social Contract by Peter T. Leeson, 2009. 

Just a bubbly blonde from rural Virginia who strives to contribute wholesome content and good vibes! When I'm not doing work for my triple major, you can find me writing and reading in some of my favorite local coffee shops, socializing literally anywhere I run into people I know, or walking the streets of New Orleans in the pursuit of my next "big" thing. An eternal optimist, and an inspired go-getter, I'm always ready to jump in to anything thrown my way. To quote Lady Gaga, I believe that we're all "on the edge of glory".