Camp Yale was a debutante ball. It was the chance to lift our heads from our books and venture into that undiscovered country of fraternity houses and sweaty dance floors. It was the time to assert our popularity, hang with the cool cats and venture into the “it” crowd. Without classes or large commitments, this week was the opportunity for total social reinvention. And for many freshmen, this opportunity was not going to be missed.
This is not to say that there is something inherently wrong with broadening our horizons — the very purpose of Camp Yale was to “break the ice.” However, after the usual getting-to-know-you games during the day, nights were often occupied with a frenzied scramble to “where it was at.” Students formed de facto crews in which they party-hopped from place to place, relying on hearsay and scraps of information as breadcrumbs to an undetermined final destination. Many of us were driven by that perpetual freshman fear of missing out, which led us to consider any quiet moment to be wasted time. In short, we reasoned that we missed out in order to get to Yale, and therefore, we needed to raise our social grade point average. And so, students emerged the next morning trading stories like baseball cards, answering the holy question, “What did you do last night?” Each day, this cycle repeated — different places, same story, same answers.
However, just as the newcomers testing the waters emerged, the wave receded nearly as quickly. After speaking to upperclassmen, it appears that this social devolution happens, to a certain extent, every year. A population of students, intent on being hypersocial (pregaming the pregame, finding a way into every frat in a given night, never missing a night at Toad’s), has returned en masse to their less-than-socialite-y comfort zone over the course of roughly a week. Hence, I plan to introduce a new acronym to the Yale lexicon: FWUG.
While the term closely resembles SWUG, it centers on an entirely different social niche. Rather than being gender-specific, a FWUG (Freshman Washed-Up Guy/Girl) is someone who, in seeking a social life unfulfilled in high school, becomes entirely worn out in the opening days of college. You won’t find a definition for FWUG on Urban Dictionary, but if you’ve hung around Old Campus recently, you’ve certainly encountered your fair share of them. Crowding into the God Quad has been replaced by a casual mingling outside L-Dub. They’ve realized that the grass really isn’t greener on the inside of Toad’s (it’s just stickier). The only parties they’re visiting now are the ones related to Blue Booking — and they may not even be shopping anymore. It’s not that they’re abstaining from anything social; it’s just that they’ve realized that the traditional college clichés of dance floor makeouts and diluted beer isn’t really (and never was) their scene. And while they may not know the term yet, they are the FWUGs of the class of 2017, following a storied chain of previous FWUGs before them.
It should be noted that there is nothing pejorative in calling someone a FWUG. I, myself, have adopted FWUG-ish tendencies, often opting for FroCo pizza at midnight instead of following the sound of house music and scent of hormones to a party suite.
So is FWUG less of a niche group, but rather a trait that exists — to some degree — in all of us? Perhaps. But more important than the term itself, this social behavior makes a broader comment on the entire freshman experience. As we enter this new place, we have the beauty of choice: in what we do in our free time, when we do what we do and why we do it. If college is all about testing the boundaries of our comfort zone, then the decision to stay in or go out is certainly part of that calculus. There will always be people searching for the next party or seeking the closest library cubicle, but most students will find themselves somewhere in the middle — and that’s good. Whether we’re FWUGs, SWUGs or any other Yale acronym, only when we escape that pressure to arbitrarily define ourselves by outside standards can we create our own college experience.
Maybe in the process of doing so, we’ll remember that our old selves were pretty cool too.
Larry Milstein is a freshman in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .