Rush livanle minus alcoholColumn/Corrado Giambalvo
Bacchus is mad. Really mad. The mythological God of wine is exasperated. His gift to the mortals has been the world-wide -- and recently the MIT campus' -- focus of much despair. From broken families to drunk driving to disruptive behavior, alcohol has caused more problems than benefits; or so it seems.
What a grave shame! The making of alcoholic beverages has long been an art. Golden champagnes, warm and amiable brandies, full-bodied cognacs, fiery schnappses of all types of herbs were made to sensuously massage our taste buds. These creations were intended for an educated and sophisticated palate or at least one that could become that way.
But this art is a far cry from the mindless guzzling of urine-hued beer which seems to be so popular nowadays. Or even from the myriads of multichromatic concoctions (better known as mixed drinks) ingested in one single sitting. The subtle, somewhat intimate pleasure of social drinking doesn't seem to exist at certain levels of interaction.
Don't get me wrong. Many a time have I indulged in a "Bud" or a "Lite," but really only to replace those vital body electrolytes lost during vigorous exercise. And, in fact many times have I accompanied my meals with wine. So, before you start shouting "you hypocrite," without mercy, let me also admit that I too have been drunk. I have never thrown up, but certainly have become intoxicated on very few, but nonetheless very real, occasions. So why the column?
I reject a number of claims made about the dry rush issue. Rush is for the mutual exposure of living groups and prospective pledges to achieve the best possible combination of the two -- where everybody is happy. Each party should (must) present as accurate a depiction of themselves as possible.
So now everybody starts screaming "Hey man, we get totally wasted every weekend and the freshmen should know it.
Freshmen should be told about alcohol use at the fraternity, in much the same way that they are informed about social dues, pledges' responsibilities, how many meals a day they will get, and where they will sleep. Indeed many aspects of living group life are not represented -- for example, how irritable all the senior members can become when they are doing their thesis, how people really act after an all-nighter of problem sets, the incredible politics of officer's elections, what it's like to study under a lot pressure, what it's like to have a party on the second floor when you want to quietly rest on the third floor.
The concern of being dishonest in not presenting the freshmen with alcohol during Rush stems from the fact that the consumption of alcohol along with general socializing are the core of your average party during the semester. Dancing comes in a close second.
Perhaps fraternities could simulate freshman lectures and show the rushees how they will be spending at least 9 hours a week once classes start. I think I can safely assume that one spends most of the time at MIT either in class, or researching or doing some homework no?
The party time is quite minimal in comparison and yet it is the aspect which is emphasized the most.
It sounds like I am accusing living groups of being deceiving and dishonest. Hardly the case. I am in a fraternity at MIT, and I strive for honesty when it comes to telling the prospective pledges what they can expect. And I am sure that everybody else is too; but some things are just not talked about since the emphasis is on having a good time. One hears at The Picnic "...no matter where you end up, you'll be happy..."
Beach trips, baseball games, and rollerskating tend to be the occasion rather than the rule. Therefore, whether you have alcohol or not should not make any difference. One does not stay drunk or party perpetually at MIT. To a certain extent, that is the impression we give during rush, isn't it? Naively, perhaps, but I thought everybody was wonderful. Too wonderful.
Certainly, rush would not be the same without alcohol. People could not protect themselves in cocktail party mode. Their psyche would be slightly more challenged. They would have to convince people to live in their home by communicating with them consciously.
Certainly not by using some alcohol-aided devices such as hot-boxes (a room where prospective pledges are encouraged to discuss their decision about pledging a specific fraternity while being served alcohol).
More importantly, let us not forget the law. MIT administration probably feels obliged or maybe even forced to abide by the law which prohibits the sale or administering of alcohol to people under the age of 21.
I was brought up in Italy with wine on the dinner table for the whole family to enjoy; in moderation for the young ones, of course. Now I occasionally accompany my meals with wine, and I enjoy a beer after a good run. I rarely feel the need to get wasted, I escape in other ways, equally questionable perhaps. After all, who's to say that enkephalins and endorphins are more acceptable than alcohol?
My disappointment is that for some of us, parties revolve around the consumption of alcohol. (It wouldn't be the first time I hear: "Hey, the keg's finished. Let's leave this place.") We ought to be able to really enjoy the situation through our unobstructed conscious efforts.
(Can you imagine if I just had to take a run every half hour during rush or otherwise I just could not talk to the frosh?) I do not condemn drinking -- in fact I encourage it. But I am really surprised that Rush is, in some people's opinion, seriously threatened if it be made dry.
Instead of bartender courses we need relaxation courses. I'd drink to that!