‘Dude-a-Que’ recalls Yale’s manliness of old

It has been almost 40 years since Yale’s 1969 introduction of coeducation, and we are undoubtedly the better for it. Arbitrarily halving a class of applicants is no way to ensure that the University educates the best and brightest, and coeducation has allowed qualified women to benefit from the opportunities within and without Yale’s classrooms. Still, as rewarding as it can be to intellectually engage the opposite sex, male Elis will recognize that there is something to be said for the sort of camaraderie and jovial atmosphere that can exist only among men. This weekend was host to a spiritual descendant of the sort of civil gathering too often absent at Yale, an assemblage of male students convened for mutual enrichment: the Dude-a-Que.

The Dude-a-Que, an all-male sophomore mixer, was held in the late afternoon Sunday on Old Campus and was, according to one of its organizers, “sponsored by the Owl Shop and the olden days.” When asked about the goal of the ’Que, one participant said, “To get away from girls and be obnoxious about it,” while another told me: “To celebrate the fact that we’re men. And that the idea of an all-male mixer is one of the best ideas we’ve ever come up with.” These men set out “to actually have the first legitimate mixer since the girls showed up in the 1960s.” Also, “to have a pocket T-shirt that’s fratty.”

And their pocket T-shirts were fratty indeed, emblazoned not only with “Dude-a-Que,” but also a Mars symbol, the slogan “0% Chicks, 100% Sick,” and the quotation “Bros before hos. — King Leonidas.” As an attendee recalls, “At first, it was just kind of an informal organization; just a bunch of guys gettin’ together, havin’ a few beers, grillin’ out. I would point to the male symbol we formed as the Dude-a-Que starting point.” Standing in Martian formation, these “really sweet dudes” took turns introducing themselves with their names, places of origin and a fun fact about themselves, such as, “I … love college,” or “I have no neck.” As that same student describes it, it was “just a way to get to know one another and brotherhood and manliness.”

The Yale men competed at wiffleball, socialized, and, in a show of their excitement for Spring Fling, played “a lot of Sister Hazel.” “I believe we listened to ‘All for You’ a dozen times,” said one. The Dude-a-Que’s Old Campus incarnation ended in acrimony when it met with the disapproval of several Yale administrators. Fortunately, the gathering relocated to a private residence, where there were multiple danceoffs (one of which was won with a be-flipflopped backflip) and reasoned discussions of the matters of the day. As one of the ’Quers (sort of) recalled, “I do remember most of what happened on Old Campus. … There was lots of sombrero and a lack of shirt. … And then I kind of stopped remembering things.”

Looking back, there were a few regrets. “We wanted to get caution tape and put it around us and, if girls got close, we’d yell at them as loud as possible,” one of the students said wistfully. “I think the one thing that was missing from the Dude-a-Que was caution tape,” echoed another. Still, opinion regarding this anti-mixer was positive. Said a participant, “I enjoyed it so much that I don’t remember a significant portion of it.” Truly, “an afternoon of people helping people and coming together of dudes.”

The attendees might have even learned something of the spirit of gentlemanly life that has atrophied since 1969’s reordering of Yale’s social scene. Indeed, the event seems a pointed rejection of today’s “hookup culture” — more than one of my interviewees said it taught them that “chicks are lame, and dudes are sweet.” One of the Dude-a-Que’s more philosophical organizers said: “I learned that trust is more important than pride, and lust is transient. We pretty much got punched in the face by brotherhood.” Indeed, at a school where that transient lust can govern the course of a typical raucous night on the town, another organizer best describes the parallels between this revelry and Yale life of old: “We wish we went to school back in the ’50s ’cause it would be a Dude-a-Que 24/7, 365 days out of the year, and there would be nothing better than that.” Total gender segregation would no doubt produce widespread social dysfunction, but there is a special value to the association that thrives only in a fraternity house or locker room — or at a Dude-a-Que. Were they here today, our Yale forefathers might trade their blazers for a pocket tee and enjoy some delightful burger-flavored brotherhood. Perhaps the lesson of the Dude-a-Que is this: In the interest of a robust spiritual and intellectual existence, every Yale man must occasionally be 100% sick with 0% chicks.

Sam Heller is a junior in Pierson College. His column appears on alternate Fridays.

Comments