Yale’s party suites, from Saybrook’s “12-Pack” to the Davenport “Cottage,” have more in common than offering beer kegs and spacious common rooms for students in their respective colleges.
As most residential colleges are wrapping up their housing draws this month, a final tally shows that of out of seven residential colleges that will include party suites next year, five will be all male and two will be both male and female.
A noticeable trend in occupancy reveals that these social hubs steadily attract the y-chromosome year after year. While there are no official records on the gender of inhabitants, residential college deans and housing committee members affirmed that male students — regardless of volunteering or being elected or chosen in the housing lottery — have hogged the spotlight in recent years.
And while most renovations on the residential colleges are leaving behind party suites — Silliman College transformed the “Beach Club” and the “Bat Cave” into faculty housing in 2007 — students agreed that those still existing, in all but Silliman, Trumbull, Berkeley and Ezra Stiles colleges, are going strong.
“Women, because of child rearing and responsibilities, are usually more selective in terms of their relationships, while men, in order to reproduce their genetic stream, would want to be exposed to as many women as possible,” explained psychology professor John Dovidio. “So it makes sense that men would be the ones who would arrange large gatherings.”
ALPHA MALE MADNESS
Males have been the life of the party at Yale for quite some time. Pierson alumnus Steve Reinhardt ’80 recalled that the notorious Lower Court parties in his college were often hosted by male students.
“My sophomore year there was a group of senior guys who lived there and they would throw crazy parties,” he said. And though Reinhardt graduated just 11 years after women were first admitted to Yale, today’s male-dominated party scene may have roots in the University’s bygone days.
Harlan Cohen, the author of the college guidebook “The Naked Roommate,” explained that the phenomenon is not restricted to Yale. Before co-ed housing, he said, women’s residence halls, sometimes referred to as “Virgin Vaults,” were strictly off-limits to men. Since men’s living quarters were usually less restrictive, he said, men in college assumed the rule of host.
And even though such restrictions no longer exist, Yale’s party suites have continued to be shared mainly by men.
Jasper Wang ’10, a member of the housing committee in Jonathan Edwards College, said the members of the “Sextet” — a six-person suite usually reserved for seniors — have been exclusively male since 2003, to his knowledge.
Similarly, the “Cottage,” the six-person standalone building in Davenport College, has been occupied solely by male students in recent memory, Elizabeth Woods ’09, the chair of Davenport’s housing committee, said.
“As far as I know, it’s been all guys in past years,” resident Taylor Giffen ’09 said. “But the names on the bar include some females as well.”
The Saybrook 12-Pack, a large suite traditionally occupied by sophomores, has also seen an exception to the rule — just once since its creation in the college’s 2000-2001 renovation, Master Edward Kamens said.
Branford’s “God Quad” has had a slightly higher rate of female occupation. Since 1996, when Steven Smith first became master of Branford College, three or four groups of women have inhabited the suite, he said.
“Right when I got here we had a fabulous group of women living there,” he said. “They called it the ‘Goddess Quad.’ ”
And more frequently, Pierson’s Lower Court houses some number of female students each year. While an equal number of female and male students lived in Lower Court this year, next year’s inhabitants include two female and eight male students.
LIFE OF THE PARTY
For many students, the opportunity to throw parties for their classmates is one appeal of living in a party suite. But more importantly, students said, the suites provide a way to keep groups of friends together.
And the combination of a large space and party scene make these suites coveted among students. The competition, many students interviewed said, can get pretty heated.
Last year’s election in Davenport was between a suite of males and a suite of females. The males won.
Giffen insisted that his suite’s victory was not a gender issue.
“People didn’t think we’d throw better parties because we’re guys,” he said. “We just knew more people.”
Woods, who, as a rising senior, voted in the election, agreed that the issue is less gender-based and more a matter of the individual occupants.
“The people who live there should be pretty outgoing and easy to relate to because the purpose of the Cottage is to bring together all of Davenport, even the freshmen from Old Campus,” she said, insisting that her views do not necessarily reflect those of the Davenport housing committee as a whole.
But women who have lived in party suites said they doubt their sociability falls behind that of men.
Instead, Cohen pointed to series of general pet peeves as setting the male-dominated pattern.
“In general, men don’t mind the sticky floors, stained furniture and lingering odors. It’s worth it to not have to travel to the party. And having your bed next to the party room makes it an easy commute after hours,” Cohen said.
Alexander Kenigsberg ’09, a member of the Jonathan Edwards Sextet, agreed that men are perhaps more willing to live in a “trashed” suite on a regular basis. Giffen echoed that men are more willing to live in “a relative degree of filth.”
Cohen said the opposite is true for women: “Women don’t want random guys wandering around their place and peeing on their toilet seats.”