Bye Bye Socials by Samantha O’Brien ’18

The future of Amherst social life looms before us– a nebulous, half-formed vision, at best. The pending demolition of the Socials stirs mixed emotions in the community. And the most we can do is speculate about what lies ahead. I would  describe my relationship with the Socials as “ambivalent”. I don’t invest too much hope in my Saturday night escapades, which means that every once in awhile, I get to be pleasantly surprised. I also appreciate having a social life that we can all collectively make fun of.

We are not so overwhelmingly proud of our party scene that we cannot see the faults that lie within. I met a girl from UMass recently who made a pointed jab about “Amherst parties” and I remember how caught off guard she looked when I laughed and agreed with her. (I know, right? What can I say? We are bad at parties!) I believe that cynicism is a tremendous bonding force, that it has brought me close to many wonderful people who want to crack jokes about Pond and Stone and yet still want to give them the “old college try” once Saturday night rolls around.

On the other hand, my “virginity-loss” (if you still wanna use that archaic terminology) occurred in the Socials. And since you might be wondering, I’ll tell you: it was nonconsensual. Of course, my story is the most excruciatingly un-unique story you could possibly imagine, which is precisely why I am writing this.

To be clear, I do not intend to place the blame of rape culture on the Socials-dwellers. This would be unfair and frankly, factually untrue. Rapists, despite harmful popular belief, do not belong to a particular sports team or identity—rape transcends all such things. Nonetheless, I believe that certain social spaces are more conducive to rape culture than others. Dull lighting, cramped spaces, bodies everywhere. Private bedroom two steps away. Likewise, I believe that brightly lit ballrooms in the Triangle, as opposed to crowded, dimly lit suites, make such activity far more difficult. This is also a reason why I think day drinking is so underrated. Not to be crass, but it is really hard for someone to get away with inappropriate groping whilst drinking beers on Memorial Hill. Another point—I by no means intend to sound as though I’m “victim-blaming”—that those who frequent social spaces should “know what they are getting themselves into”, or some garbage like that. Absolutely not. If this is confusing to you, I would be happy to provide you with a 1000 word follow up rant on why this is grossly untrue. (Kindly direct all inquires to sobrien18@amherst.edu.)

I write with the immediate safety of potential victims in mind. Certainly we should fervently continue educational campaigns that attempt to get to the root of rape culture. But in the meantime, while rape culture remains alive and well, I believe that it is imperative that we use the “social vacuum” so to speak, that will emerge next semester in order, perhaps, to “engineer” social good. It’s time to innovate, friends. Stop worrying about what will “become of your social life” and view this as a precious opportunity, a critical moment in Amherst history upon which to leave our mark.

sobrien18@amherst.edu

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