Having graduated before women were admitted as undergraduates, the concept of an annual “Freshman Screw” dance came as news to me. It’s not clear when this unfortunately named event began but certainly it was in full flower by 2001. Back in my day (1962–66), such dances were called “mixers” and were held in the colleges, not as an exclusively first-year event.

The pill had not become available until 1960 and was still not in widespread use my freshman year. Thus, the so-called sexual revolution was not yet in full vigor, as it were. Back then, there was more a horny hope rather than an anxious expectation that a “hookup” would occur during or after a mixer. Of course, the rampant misogyny was just as evident then as it is now — but the name was mixer, not screw. Now the name has changed again, with no improvement in attitudes. What’s in a name? Not much in this case.

By the way, the name “Freshman Screw” certainly violates Title IX by creating a hostile environment, yet the administration apparently had no problem with the name for at least 17 years. Perhaps spending more time socializing the undergraduates rather than prosecuting individuals would be more productive in the long run. As with drug addiction, treat the underlying disease rather than just the symptoms.

James Luce ’66