Editors’ Note: This piece originally appeared in the 2019 First Year Issue, published on August 2, 2019.
Everyone wants to let off steam. This is especially true at an institution as academically demanding as Yale. When you are spending almost every waking hour working to complete your next big assignment — whether that be a problem set, paper or an in-class presentation — spending time doing the things that ground you is essential.
A lot of people enter college thinking there is only one way to have fun: partying. While nightlife at Yale can be an important part of your experience, if you want it to be, it is crucial to note that Yale and partying have a complicated history.
Just this year, three female Yale students from the group Engender filed a class-action lawsuit against the University. The three students argued that Yale enables sexual assault by fostering an environment in which off-campus fraternity houses dictate the social scene. Particular fraternity houses such as Delta Kappa Epsilon — whose behavior Dean Chun condemned in an email this past January — have long been known for poor treatment of women and people overall.
They also claimed that they were groped at fraternity parties and that the University did and does little to address the behavior of these fraternities. Overall, the lawsuit exemplifies the fact that Yale parties can be toxic and, at times, detrimental to the safety and well-being of students.
In spite of all this, going to parties with friends and in safe environments can be a great way to have fun with fellow Yalies. There are so many different types of events on campus and an endless number of people to meet. In addition to parties thrown by fraternities and sororities, there are events organized by individuals, clubs, residential colleges and New Haven in general.
Throughout my first year, I have learned that I am not a big party person. I love dancing and singing to music, but I would rather do so in a more intimate and familiar setting. Once I learned this about myself, I was able to discover other ways on campus to have fun. One way to do so is by finding events going on around New Haven or even in a neighboring city like New York.
At times, when I am feeling homesick and ambitious, I have taken a short train ride down to New York and gone to a Knicks game with a few of my friends. Another time, I went to a concert in Williamsburg and had an amazing time. Similarly, I have found local concerts around campus and purchased some very cheap tickets. I have also visited cultural centers that host events and get-togethers. These are all ways to have fun that do not involve going out to a party.
The reason I think this is so important to share is because, as a first year, I felt as if it were expected of me to go to parties or rush a sorority. When my friends back home asked how the parties were, I was afraid to say that I do not find them so enjoyable. I felt as if there were something wrong with me for not finding those types of events fun. In reality, college is about making your own fun.
Overall, I think that as a first year, you should try everything at least once. The things you think you will enjoy — or will not — may surprise you. Rather than entering this new chapter of your life believing you must enjoy one thing or spend your time doing another, begin this year knowing that there is so much you have not yet experienced. In college, we are all just beginning to find and grow into ourselves. Just remember that only you can decide what you will get out of your time here.
Leila Jackson is a sophomore in Saybrook College and a staff columnist for the News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .