Q: I am a freshman, and I have been having lots of trouble figuring out the fraternities at Yale. First of all, where is “frat row?” Whenever I ask people, they give me weird looks. I also get weird looks when I refer to “85” — but isn’t that the lacrosse frat? And is Sigma Alpha the frat with all the preppy boys? How about CCL? One of my roommates always goes there on Friday nights and ends up sleeping over. So does that make CCL the sketchiest frat? And what about ABP? Which frat is that? People always say “let’s meet at ABP” but I have never been there myself. Please help me — it’s too far into the year for me to ask anyone else these questions without getting really embarrassed.
— Clueless about frats
A: Dear Clueless — Let me start out by applauding your decision to write in with your questions — it is definitely advisable to stay anonymous in cases such as yours. I can assure you that all of your questions can be cleared up very easily. First off, “frat row” does not actually exist. While “frat row” was referenced in the Light and Truth freshman guidebook this year, which may have contributed to your confusion, this phrase is actually a euphemism for “frats at Yale are scattered around various different unsafe streets of New Haven.”
Now to clarify a few other points: by “85,” I am guessing that you are referring to “ADPhi.” You will know you are in the right place if you come across a suspicious hot tub in the backyard. One fun fact I suggest you commit to memory: Fraternity names are derived from Greek letters (remember: letters, not numbers).
You almost got it right with your reference to “Sigma Alpha” — the frat full of preppy boys is Sigma Alpha Epsilon. However, few Yalies will have the slightest clue as to what you are talking about unless you refer to the frat as “SAE.” But before you get carried away with three-letter abbreviations, please be careful! I can promise that you will never live it down if you confuse CCL with a fraternity. Honey, CCL stands for Cross Campus Library. Library. As in water fountains and whispers. No kegs and no noise. (On a side note, you were correct to be suspicious of your roommate who regularly sleeps over in CCL — this practice is definitely sketchy, as you so aptly suggested.)
Now, onto your final question. Sadly, ABP is not a fraternity, never was, and never will be. ABP is the shortened version of Au Bon Pain. Though Au Bon Pain does not serve beer, you might have to wait in an annoyingly long line to get your drinks at mealtimes. FYI: People often “meet at ABP” because the cafe is conveniently located on the corner of York and Elm. You probably have been there —
Q: My best friend from high school, “Rachel,” has a long-distance boyfriend, “Jeff,” who goes to Harvard. Over Harvard-Yale weekend, I saw Jeff leaving Toad’s at the end of the night with his arm around a Yale girl, “Sandy.” I don’t know for sure whether Jeff and Sandy hooked up, but Jeff was really drunk and Sandy has a reputation for being a slut. Jeff and Rachel are dating exclusively, so she would be really upset if she found out that he cheated on her. Should I tell Rachel my suspicions? I have always thought Jeff was kind of sleazy, so Rachel might think I was trying to mess things up between them. What should I do?
— Suspicious of a sleaze-ball
A: Dear Suspicious — First of all, the fact that Rachel has the poor judgment to date a guy from Harvard already shows that she might not be able to see the Jeff situation with proper clarity.
However, before you set her straight by blurting out your suspicions, do some background research. Where did Sandy and Jeff go after they left Toads? Did any of your other friends see Sandy with a random Harvard guy after Toads? After all, you wouldn’t want to confuse a late-night snack at A1 with a late-night snuggle in the bedroom. Perhaps Jeff was being a gentleman and merely helping walk Sandy to her room (just because you’ve never heard of a Yale guy doing that doesn’t mean it’s not possible). See if you can identify Sandy’s suitemates. Does anyone you know have a way to get the dirt on Sandy? If you know Sandy at all, you could just suck it up and ask her point-blank if she hooked up with your “friend” Jeff from Harvard.
If a week passes and you haven’t uncovered any concrete details, you are left with three options. You could let the matter drop, although this might leave Rachel clueless, you guilty, and Jeff untested for STDs.
Your second option is to call up Rachel and lay out the brutal details. Place yourself in her shoes and consider whether you would want to be kept in the dark about your boyfriend’s possible infidelity. However, if Jeff didn’t actually hook up with Sandy, implicating him could wreak unnecessary havoc on their relationship. In addition, as you suggested, Rachel might reject your unsubstantiated suspicions and resent your intrusion.
Now, on to option three (brace yourself!). Find your boldest friend. Search the Harvard directory for Jeff’s number. Have your friend call Jeff as “Sandy.” After thanking him for the amazing night at Yale, have “Sandy” flirtatiously ask, “So where did we go after Toads, Jeff, I am having trouble remembering –?” Does Jeff respond by stammering “your bedroom?” Does he sound annoyed and confused, replying “I have no !@#$%ing idea what you are talking about!” Catch Jeff off guard with bluntness: “Did you like hooking up with me?” Here is the key moment of analysis. Remember, a guilty cheater stutters awkwardly when confronted with the truth, whereas an innocent ol’ faithful angrily defends his honor. As soon as you have gotten enough info (assuming Jeff hasn’t hung up on you yet), “confess” that you are just messing around, and that Sandy has no idea about the call (after all, it would be unethical to denigrate Sandy’s reputation even more).
I must personally recommend that you take the third option, as desperate times call for desperate measures. After the conversation with Jeff, you can reassess your data. Obviously the conversation proves nothing, but it can be instrumental in helping you decide between following option one or two. Go with your gut feeling: if you just aren’t sure, keep the info to yourself, but if a nagging inkling tells you Jeff cheated, expose the lying Cantab for what he’s really worth.
Alison Bloom-Feshbach wants to answer your questions: write to firstname.lastname@example.org.