By Alex Lazo
Halfway through the fall semester of my freshman year, I remember an upperclassman coming up to me at a party and apologizing: “I feel so bad for your grade, Denison used to be way more fun. It’s just not like how it used to be, now.”
I heard comments like this all the time, especially during the heavy social restrictions from COVID-19. But since I was a freshman and did not know any real difference between the ‘fun’ Denison and the ‘unfun’ Denison, I never really questioned it. Now that I am heading towards the beginning of the end of my college career, I have been reflecting on the various ways my class experienced weird social limitations and the impact that it has posed onto the following grades.
One of the most profound changes I noticed from partying today compared to when I was a freshman was the ways in which people prepare to go out. This could partly be due to the fact that I was naive and just a “happy-to-be-here” freshman, but it feels like now there is an extensive thought process and planning leading up to going to a simple party.
127 asked students in October 2022 to identify various activities that they participate in prior to going out. Based on the graph below, we can see that female Denionians have a tendency to engage in more party preparation as they get older; with a steep incline from their Junior to Senior year. On the other hand, men demonstrate a steady decline in preparation.
Over the past three years, there has been an evident pushback on social life from administration. Since 2019, campus safety has hovered around the senior apartments or “Sunnies,” shutting down parties significantly earlier than they used to (according to the aforementioned upperclassman apologizer), two fraternities have had to disaffiliate from campus, and the Moonies (an arguably failed social space) were erected in an effort to limit parties from taking place in the Sunnies.
As these obstructions accumulated, Denison seemingly developed into a bar school, despite only having a whopping total of two in town. Since this transition, it has necessitated a different kind of party preparation as students travel off campus.
From an early age, the anxiety of roofying and rape are instilled into young women. Studies have identified that women are twice as likely to avoid going home alone at night because of the fear of being threatened or assaulted. This concept is likely a catalyst for why we see female Denisonians participating in every party preparation activity more than men.
The data collected from our October survey suggests that while most students engage in some form of party preparation, there is a notable difference between men and women and how they responded to the safety party preparation questions. It seems that female students here align with the notion that they rest in fear of their night going south, causing them to follow through with safety precautions such as carrying pepper spray, sharing locations, and rarely ever entering and exiting a party alone. To some extent, though, much of the prep that we engage in is simply making sure we socialize with who we want to and that’s a gendered concern – women want to make sure their friends are going more than that motivates men.
It is important to note the obvious that those who engage in party prep are also more likely to binge drink. However, the level of party prep happening remains at the same level, regardless of how often they drink. In other words, it is inherently an issue with the party scene, not the amount students drink.
127’s data persists that females have to take an extra step to protect themselves. The graph below shows that female students here still carry out party prep activities even when not engaging with copious drinking.
The assumption that drinking equates to putting yourself in a position of danger is valid here, but it is not the sole impetus for why safety measures and party preparation is so profound at Denison. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved my time here, capitalized on the various social outlets Denison has to offer, and found great friends along the way, but it feels obvious that the changes in party locations has shifted the culture, leading female Denisonians to increase their party preparations as a blanket of protection. But then again, I was a first generation of this “reformed” Denison, so what do I know?
Alex Lazo is a senior and political science major who spends way too much time pondering over whether drinking coffee at the ripe age of 14 actually stunted her growth.