The party rules

If you want to have fun, you need to know what you’re doing

Illustration By Doug MacDonald

Being a student is a form of initiation. An initiation that echoes the rites of more primitive societies with bizarre precision. It goes on outside of history, cut off from social reality. The student leads a double life, poised between his present status and his future role. The two are absolutely separate, and the journey from one to the other is a mechanical event “in the future.” Meanwhile, he basks in a schizophrenic consciousness, withdrawing into his initiation group to hide from that future. Protected from history, the present is a mystic trance.

—"On the Poverty of Student Life,” U.N.E.F. Strasbourg, 1966
Published by the University of Strasbourg Student Union, 1966

Hey kids, welcome to Party Town, USA! Hope you brought your beer bong, because Chico just wouldn’t be Chico without the hordes of hot, young horndogs who flock here every year to get wasted, get laid, and in their spare time earn a diploma that will inevitably make them some of the least employable college graduates in the nation.

That’s right, party people—you’ve selected a school known more for its collective booze intake than for its contributions to academic achievement. Every few months, it seems, the national media are reminded that when the real world seems like a dull and complicated place, they can always count on some idiot frat boys from the Neverland of Chico to host an orgy, videotape it and let the rest of society know just how decadent, desperate and completely unimaginative they are. Seen College Invasion 6? It was filmed just down the street.

The university’s administrators, of course, predictably hem and haw about how such antics “tarnish” the university’s “reputation.” As if they didn’t know when they moved here that partying is at the core of Chico State’s identity. How can they pretend to have been so blissfully unaware that you, the new student, have come to college not to learn how to survive in this rapidly decaying world we live in, but to hook up and hang out with some of the foxiest, drunkest and easiest-to-please 18-24-year-olds in the free world?

You’ve come not to conquer, but to consume. You don’t want to break the rules, change the world or free your plastic mind—you want to crawl into a comfortable social cocoon and drink foamy keg beer until you vomit on your girlfriend’s new Ugg boots.

Don’t worry about the future. You’ll probably still be able to parlay your so-called education into some kind of mid-level management position, where you’ll push paper from one side of your desk to the other inside the gray-and-beige confines of a six-foot-square cubicle for the next 40 years. With prospects like that, it’s really no wonder you want to get your freak on before the hideous reality of modern life forces you to abandon any semblance of identity and autonomy you may have left after navigating through however many years of remembering empty, disassociated factoids and conforming to the social standards of your high school’s ruling class.

So have fun, kiddies. Have fun and try not to die, like 18-year-old Adrian Heideman, who, in 2000, had been in town for only seven weeks before his new “brothers” at Pi Kappa Phi ordered him to drink an entire bottle of blackberry brandy. He obediently complied, then passed out and never woke up. Or the most recent victim of the Greek fun factory, 21-year-old Matthew Carrington, whose initiation into renegade frat Chi Tau this past February involved drinking gallons of water in a freezing, sewage-sopped basement until he pissed himself, went into convulsions and croaked.

Also, try not to kill anyone, like the two Butte College students who, while stumbling around town drunk one night in 1998, decided to pee on a sleeping homeless man for kicks. When he woke up and protested, they beat him to death.

Or what about Gina Rose Grinsell, a sweet sorority girl whose sisters couldn’t figure out why she was gaining so much weight? While a perfectly awesome party was happening in another part of her sorority house in April 2004, Gina was upstairs giving birth to a 10-pound baby, whom she had apparently been able to conceal from her oh-so-caring housemates by wearing baggy clothes and telling them she had a tumor.

Not wanting to be a wet blanket and ruin the party, Gina did what any socially inept but still-struggling to-fit-in young woman in her situation might do. She strangled her bastard child and left him in a trash bucket like a sack of human garbage. She’s in prison now, having pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She never got her diploma.

It is true that not all Chico State students party as hard as those previously mentioned. Some only get hangovers. Some only get herpes or chlamydia. Some are only arrested for being drunk in public during our famous “student holidays” that, due to a city crackdown, have become depressing wake-like events where drunken flocks of young people are herded like sheep through gauntlets of baton- and Taser-wielding riot police until they give up trying to have “fun” and crawl back to their hovels so they can piss out their livers and play Grand Theft Auto on PS2.

There are also lots of bar owners and vendors of “Kiss Me I’m Drunk” T-shirts that will stand up and fight for your right to party, not to mention their right to make money off your pathetic and inexperienced attempts at debauchery. The student-pandering media and the businesses that support them will do everything in their power to come up with new ways for you, the poor, ignorant student, to waste your time and money on boring and unsatisfying efforts to “let off some steam,” as if you had any steam to let off. Just don’t expect them to bail you out of jail or pay your hospital bills when you screw up.

Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with socializing, partying, mixing it up, getting wild, whatever. The problem is that most Chico students don’t seem to be very good at it. And in a culture where distant and uninspiring authority figures like those at the university are talking down to you and telling you not to have any fun at all while your peers and surgically enhanced mass-media heroes are showing their pecs and tits and daring you to one-up each other in ever more retarded displays of faux-rebellion against those same, sad authority figures, you, my friends, are caught in the middle.

There is no resolution. Think for yourself, if you know how. Get your expensive but ultimately worthless degree and get on with your life. Because those movies about going to college and having fun and not being a virgin anymore and all that other Hollywood/MTV crap about belonging and finding yourself and coming out on top are just flickering lights on an otherwise blank screen. This is your life. Do what you want.

But a word to the wise: Pay attention in Biology 1A when the little bald man behind the lab desk explains the theory of natural selection. For the herd shall be culled, and as of right now you are its newest, weakest member.