For most Yalies, the night of the Freshman Screw is not a defining moment in their college careers. More likely, the night has been quarantined to the annals of history with so many other college nights, except for an occasional cameo as the punch line in a joke or as a useful parallel for fashioning disparaging remarks about their most recent dates.
But this is not a hard and fast rule — just ask Rob Dugas ’02 and Andrea Freyer ’02.
The two met at the Davenport Screw their freshman year and have been dating nearly ever since. But now that they are graduating and pursuing separate goals, their relationship will be put to a new test.
Freyer will stay in Connecticut to work for Pfizer, and Dugas will move to Washington D.C. to work for the government. After one year of work, Dugas plans to attend law school and Freyer medical school.
“The real world is different and will present new challenges, beyond just the distance apart,” Dugas explained. “But we plan to give it a shot and see how it goes and if it works out then maybe we’ll try to go to school together in a year.”
Going into the screw, neither one said they had such high hopes or expectations — just a desire to become better acquainted with that “kinda cute” stranger in the entryway. The relationship did not form instantly despite the initial night of fun and was nearly grounded before it ever took flight when a chance encounter during Parents’ Weekend went awry.
Freyer spotted Dugas and his parents getting lunch at Au Bon Pain. “At this point he was still just that guy that I hooked up with last week,” Freyer recalled.
After identifying him as the boy from the previous weekend, her mom insisted on meeting him.
“So you’re from Ohio?” Freyer’s mom inquired as conversation began. “I hear they have changed the admissions standards there.”
Freyer acknowledged that this is not generally considered to be the best way to foster a relationship in its infancy.
Needless to say, the two survived the encounter — fond feelings intact — and spent the rest of freshman year casually dating as their relationship and connection grew stronger.
During freshman year, most of the couple’s “dating” consisted of hanging out in each other’s rooms. Freyer recalled that one of her fondest memories with Rob came in that first year when she wanted to go on a “real” date.
“He got tickets to the [Yale Repertory Theatre] for our date and I was so excited to go, but then the day of our date I got really sick,” Freyer said. “I was really bummed but then he showed up with chicken noodle soup. I’ll never forget that, it was so sweet.”
Dugas had a hard time isolating a single day or experience as his most fond. He recalled, though, a night the two of them spent on the town in New York City. Freyer being from Pennsylvania and Dugas from Ohio, neither had ever been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So they decided to make a day of seeing New York City in its full Christmas spirit.
The couple insisted that four years of dating has not detracted at all from their Yale experience. They each recognized the importance of diversifying their social lives — Rob is a brother of Beta Theta Pi and Andrea is a sister of Pi Beta Phi.
They said their involvement in Greek life has been crucial not only in assuring the full Yale social experience, but also in maintaining a healthy, lasting relationship with the right balance between time spent together and apart.
The relationship has not been all fun and games though. There have been some rough moments too, but Freyer and Dugas see them as a natural by-product of the relationship’s growth.
Dugas went to go visit Freyer and her family over break one year. At Freyer’s house, she noted only half-facetiously, “Pinochle is not a game. It’s life or death.”
Enter Dugas, the novice.
“Rob was my partner,” Freyer explained, “and I had one of the best hands ever and he didn’t pass trump, and that’s like one of the first things you learn, and he didn’t pass trump.”
And then what?
“Andrea started to cry and ran out of the room,” Dugas said. “And then her dad started yelling at me ‘How could you not pass trump? How could you not pass trump?'”
Later, when passions had a chance to calm down, the two were able to talk to each other and smooth everything over. The lessons learned from this encounter?
“I’ve never played pinochle again,” Dugas said. “I’ve officially retired from the game.”
Through parents, pinochle and passions, Freyer and Dugas’ relationship has withstood the rigors of college life. But the two recognize that next year will bring a new challenge.
The couple agreed that whether or not their plan to reunite in one year works out, a split would not affect the impact the relationship has had on this chapter of their lives.
“It’s really easy to get wrapped up with things here [at Yale],” Freyer said. “So it’s been really nice to have someone who you have something special with, who is there for you when you’ve had a bad day or week. The whole experience, well, it’s been wonderful.”