WESTWOOD — When I arrived on the first day of rush, I was a man with a mission. It was my first time ever encountering these “frat boys,” as I had never been invited to a party before. I kept careful notes of what happened each night of my first quarter. However, as time went on, I spent less time with my nose in my notepad and more time with my shirt off. I was surprised to find enjoyment in the game of pong, and by the end of freshman year, I was the reigning champion of the SAE pledge class.
As an investigative journalist, my highest priority was integrity. But while uncovering the juiciest story of my career, I uncovered something far more important: brotherhood.
The disgusting reputation of fraternities at UCLA is far from the whole story. Not only do they spend their college days partying, getting drunk, and preying on freshman girls, the members of SAE look after each other and consistently prioritize living in the moment. Fun is a vital food group in this plate we call life. That is a lesson I never could have learned elsewhere.
One of the quotes I was going to use in my raunchy exposé was from my big, Michael (a total a-hole, but I would like die for him): “I don’t give a shit if you pass out, you’re going to down that entire bitch cup and puke it up and drink it again until I tell you to stop.” At first, that felt like a prime example of toxic masculinity. However, looking back on my years in SAE, I can see Michael’s message in context. So what if another pledge had to go to the hospital? I’ve said way worse things to my little.
Frat culture is under attack. Society has turned against the idea that men can be vulnerable, like when Dillon was on the floor with a broken arm. I used to think fraternities were dangerous, too, and I figured I would drop out as soon as the year ended. But now that I’ve reached the bottom of my SOLO cup, I want another drink. Even if there could be something dangerous in it– metaphorically speaking.