Tufts students don’t pass up any opportunity to party. First there was Fall Ball, then Homecoming, Columbus Day, Halloween (parts one and two), and Hurricane Sandy. With Cage Rage and Winter Bash still coming, it may seem like getting drunk and grinding against beer- and sweat-covered walls ought to be marked on our calendars for the rest of the year. Between official Homecoming shirts that read, “Everyone wins when you start at 9 a.m.” and students avoiding Friday morning classes for the sake of Thirsty Thursdays, going out seems to be the prominent social scene here at Tufts. But is it? Or is it all just talk?
Maybe our ego has grown a little too large for our own good. In 2011, Playboy magazine named Tufts the third worst party school in the country. That’s worst as in poor quality, the lowest standard, inferior, defective, unpleasant. Since Playboy doesn’t have the classiest of standards to begin with, if any of these adjectives hold true, one might actually be wise to stay away from the scene. But can one opt out of partying without committing social suicide? Fortunately, there are plenty of great ways to enjoy yourself on the weekends without needing to drink or party.
For those students who wish to abstain from the party scene entirely, the Tufts Programming Board and Another Option are student-run organizations that offer alternative nighttime activities. While some of the Programming Board’s larger dance and concert events do have a tendency to get a little debauched, the film and comedy series, lectures, and recent Boston Ghost Tour are popular alcohol-free events. Another Option is a club dedicated solely to organizing sober activities such as ice-skating, pumpkin carving, game nights, and snowball fights.
While these clubs have good intentions, it seems as though there is a certain stigma against publicizing your decision not to drink. Another Option’s Facebook group has only 18 members, compared to the 513 Facebook RSVPs for 123’s ‘Halloween Part Deux.’ All 2500 Fall Ball tickets sold out within the first day, but the demand to see Jon Lovett, a speechwriter for Barack Obama, was so low that his lecture was moved to a smaller venue to have fewer empty seats.
Healthy living housing has historically been the most reliable alternative to the party scene. However, in recent years interest in this option has dropped dramatically. According to Yolanda King, Director of Residential Life, this decrease has not been of major concern amongst the administration. She explained that this trend can be seen in universities nationwide and is thus not indicative of anything endemic to Tufts. The residential office has, however, been trying to integrate healthy living programs within all residence halls in order to meet the needs of all students.
Many students who do not want to opt out of the party scene altogether are uncomfortable drinking. Since resident assistants (RAs) have an obligation to refrain from substance use, I spoke with Nick Cutsumpas, an RA in Haskell Hall, about how he has managed to maintain a social life without drinking. He says, “If you choose not to drink and stand tall in your convictions, then you accept the fact that things are going to be more difficult socially. You just have to be proactive in your social life. If you don’t doubt your decision, then you don’t feel pressured or left out.”
As a runner, I made the commitment with my team to be dry during the peak of our season. I’ve found that drunk college kids can be really amusing—on Halloween I watched a guy in a green jumpsuit (I still haven’t figured out what he was attempting to be, other than creepy) ask anyone who would listen to watch him moonwalk. Later, I saw two girls compliment a real policeman on his “costume.” Being the only one who remembers the events of the night during brunch at Dewick makes you the center of social life, and the lack of a hangover means that an afternoon Tisch session won’t be completely unproductive. At the same time, I don’t have to give up the chance to have fun with my friends.
Partying undeniably dominates nightlife at Tufts, as it does at all colleges, but from Programming Board’s events to going out sober, viable social alternatives do exist. While going out is the most visible social scene, we don’t realize how many people stay in because, well, they’re in.