College Students, Or Barbies?

The House Bunny
The House Bunny

My hallmate, Peter, came to my dorm room with great news. He had been invited to one of our favorite fraternities’ hotel party that Wednesday night.  While a freshman boy is always ecstatic to be invited to these prestigious ‘dirty rush’ events (parties designed to advertise a specific fraternity and convince freshman boys to join), he does have to worry about certain aspects—what clothes will be appropriate, how to act in front of fraternity brothers, and which date to bring that will make him look cool. This particular party induced extra stress, because the invitation required each freshman boy to bring not one, but two dates.

As a first semester freshman girl new to the intricacies of the fraternity system, my mind started spinning with questions: How can a boy be expected to have a real, romantic date if there is more than one girl? Is it too much responsibility for one boy to take care of two girls in one night?  And most importantly, what girl would say yes to going on a three-person date?

Then my mind jumped to Alex, the sophomore I had been seeing in that fraternity when Peter asked if I had been invited, too. Peter knew as well as anyone that girls were not ‘invited’ to these kinds of parties—at least not in the same way that boys were. No girl would receive a written invitation in an envelope with her name on it. That was a privilege to which only boys were entitled. But freshman girls could be asked to accompany either freshman boys invited or older fraternity brothers.

Why had Alex not asked me to be his date (…or one of his two dates)? I started to worry because it was Monday, and the party was in two days. However, when my phone beeped later that night, showing a text from Alex, I relaxed. Alex explained that this hotel party meant each room in the chapter house was to be decorated as a different geographic location in the country, and each room would have a drink unique to that place. His room was going to have the theme of  New York City. Then, he finally asked me to go…I think.  The text message read, “Do you want to be one of the girls who works in my room?”

I read it over and over again. What?! Was I being asked to be his date or his servant? I began to have a debate with myself. I understood that brothers choose the girls who they think are cute and fun to represent the types of girls the fraternity fraternizes with (for lack of a better word). While I was somewhat flattered, I could not help feeling somewhat objectified, too, at the thought of being ‘one of the girls working the room.’

When Alex realized I did not understand—or took it in the ‘wrong’ way—he continued, “You’ll be serving drinks in my room to people who come by. You dress according to the room you’re in. Like if you worked in the Cali room, you’d be in a bikini. Or if you worked in the Vegas room, you’d be in a leotard and fishnets or something.”  My purpose in working the room was to attract freshman boys to come into the room, drink the drinks, and meet the brothers in that room.

Luckily Alex conjectured that I still felt uncomfortable at his description of my role for the night and changed his mind, “Why don’t you just be my date, and I’ll find someone else to work my room.” While I did not like the idea of him finding a different girl to replace me, I did like Alex’s new idea better than his first. I asked, “But don’t you need two dates?” To my pleasant surprise, he told me that he would only take one that night.

When I arrived at the hotel party with Alex on Wednesday, I found that the party was absolutely thriving. Many groups of three were found.  The freshman boys did not disappoint; almost all had found a way to get two dates that night. However, there were just as many boys floating around the party alone, having abandoned their two dates shortly after displaying them as an entrance ticket to the party. While it is safe to say that getting action from girls is almost always on boys’ minds, their main goal for the night was to impress the fraternity brothers with easy conversation and their drinking skills.

The girls who worked the rooms administered drinks and refereed competitions between freshman boys, trying to see who could take the most shots in thirty seconds and who could chug a beer the fastest. The girls were having a great time, and so were the people with whom they interacted. I observed that the women were indeed good friends of the fraternity boys and were working the party simply out of love for the fraternity. They were helping to improve the future of the fraternity by allowing potential future brothers to see how much fun their favorite fraternity could really be.

So what did I learn that night? It is okay to be confused, to ask questions, and to tell someone you do not want to participate in a certain way. It is okay to refuse an offer–even when made by what you consider the ‘best’ fraternity. Especially when new to the culture, Greek life may be tough to understand.  And for that reason and so many others, never think you know what to expect in college — especially in regards to Greek life. Who says a date consists of two people? Who says the seemingly degrading title of ‘one of the girls who works the room’ cannot be just as honorable as any other role at the event? Greeks would not be nearly as successful or as much fun without ingenuity and the constant  pursuit of new ways to plan parties. TC mark

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