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OLAYEMI: First-year gives lessons on survival, freedom

Opinion Column: Life At RU

Me: “Honestly, we can still go to the party if we really wanted to.”

Friend: “You get off of work at 1 a.m., the party ends at 2 a.m., there is no way you can make it in time for it to be worth it.”

Me: “If it is as lit as everyone is making it out to be right now, then it probably will not end on time. So, I can get in a good hour and a half at least.”

Friend: “Mhm … Do you not remember, Yvonne? Two a.m. is when everything has to end so that the seniors and fraternity guys can go on their regular prowl for the straggling freshmen girls. We are old news now. You cannot just pull up to the house like it is still freshman year.”

This is a brief, somewhat paraphrased excerpt from a conversation between my friend and me this past weekend. We were discussing the series of social events that had occurred and were occurring that day and were enticed by the various Instagram stories and positive testimonials pertaining to these events. I jokingly asked her if I should treat myself and go out as well. The last statement slyly made by my friend — as seen above — is my inspiration for this week’s entry. 

On Saturday, two prominent fraternities on campus held a day party and a subsequent “after-wave,” basically permitting — or more accurately, encouraging — students to come and let loose from approximately 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Unfortunately, many of my friends and I either had to work or study, so we could not attend what could be deemed as one of the more glorified events of the semester thus far. 

But, thanks to Instagram and Snapchat sleuthing, I got the gist of how much fun it really was. Later in the evening, a few friends and I were casually talking about whether we could realistically still stop by the party, despite the fact that it was getting late and time was quickly running out. 

It was in this conversation that my friend made her statement, causing me to revisit some age-old questions: Why are freshmen girls so preyed upon in college? Are both parties just as culpable for this? Is this a phenomenon that we should continue to consider as a standard part of going to college, or is it an issue worth addressing more seriously?

I am comfortable being transparent about my many mistakes and naiveties as a first-year. I began my college career with a friend group of about 12 girls, all of whom were as eager as I was to explore what it meant to be free and not under surveillance in a school as populated as Rutgers. It did not take long — literally no more than that first weekend of our first semester — for us to see that as first-years, we were hot commodities, especially among the upperclassmen males. 

Within the first month, we had been consistently given personal invitations from fraternity brothers to attend kickbacks at their fraternity houses, with the reasonable expectation that we would attend as the large friend group that they had become accustomed to seeing. At the time, we felt a sense of pride that we were “cool” or “mature” enough first-years to capture the attention of these upperclassmen. 

We believed that we were just so darn charismatic and personable that these guys were willing to overlook the gap in age and wisdom just to be friends with us. Consequently, as soon as these “friendships” formed, it became clear that there was intricate strategizing taking place on their end to quickly cross over the boundaries of friendship into something far more scandalous. 

Now, one may logically ask: “Since you guys noticed that there were ulterior motives behind their kindness and generosity, did you stop hanging out with them?” The answer is that we absolutely did not. We could still be seen religiously at the same parties, kickbacks and hangouts, with the same people, getting ourselves into messes that we realistically saw coming a mile away. These trends are apparent as each academic year introduces a new set of fresh faces.

The truth is, first-years tend to come into college with a “down-for whatever” mentality, and I do not use that term to necessarily mean sexually. I believe that among both males and females, the excitement to experience the pseudo-adulthood that college provides — along with the desire for the ever-commercialized “college experience” — often overcomes higher inhibition. This explicit character trait is what I feel attracts upperclassmen. 

In my friend’s statement, she said that we are “old news.” I laughed when she said it because the sheer fact that we are no longer first-years has drastically shifted the ways we are regarded in circles with the same individuals who were once pressed for our time. Aging out of that stage of our undergraduate career entails growing up enough to realize that surface-level perks like a car to get rides in, apartment to chill in and/or free alcohol to indulge in are not enough incentive to linger in no-substance relations with guys we barely knew. 

That does not only fall on our first-years, though. What comes with being old news is that we have lost the wide-eyed nature that once stifled our ability to recognize and grow tired of the games and manipulations used to keep us around. We have experienced enough and have gained enough wisdom to combat the power play tactics used by these older guys. They are tactics that, more often than not, tread on being predatory.

I will be honest in saying that I do not think that I would have the same appreciation for my first year at Rutgers without having made many those potentially questionable decisions associated with being a first-year. Brothers and sisters, I am not shaming your game. The first-year frenzy seems to be a phenomenon that dates far before my time. 

My friends and I frequently laugh about how far we have come. Now, as a junior, I can realistically look back and think to myself: "Why the hell did we think that any of these grown men were interested in friendship with our young, fresh-out-of-high-school, clearly overzealous college selves?" And more importantly: "Why was I jobless enough to entertain such blatant rubbish?"

Yvonne Olayemi is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in biological sciences. Her column “Life At RU,” runs on alternate Wednesdays. 


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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