Freshman year is always stressful. You’re struggling to find new friends, you’re scared of your professors, and you don’t know what the fuck Vineyard Vines is and you’re afraid to ask at this point. However, there is a more dangerous problem new students must be aware of: hazing.
Princeton’s hazing is some of the most sadistic in the nation—brilliance and immaturity are a deadly combo. Up to 20% of a freshman class may be tragically lost to these pranks, and no frosh fully escapes the incessant harassment. So, baby tigers, to spot the most common and potentially harmful hazing practices and campus dangers, take a look at this list.
The “Frosh Mosh”
This hazing technique is used when frosh gather together en masse. Fiendish upperclassmen worm their way into the group and try to initiate some sort of riot or stampede, usually by whispering disturbing things into the frosh’s ears, such as “the average freshman’s GPA is .93 points lower than their high school GPA,” or “you only got in because of your obscure and useless juggling abilities.” Try to stay away from joining large packs of other freshmen; being a lone wolf can often save you.
The “Prohibition Act of 1920”
While at an eating club or pregame, a freshman will be forced into a dangerous drinking game. With a ring of rowdy upperclassmen trapping them, the frosh is given a freshly opened bottle of vodka, which is then duct-taped firmly to their hand. Though the vodka is tantalizingly close, the frosh is dared to not drink a single drop of the alcohol. All they can do is stand there as the crowd chants “DON’T CHUG! DON’T CHUG!” To avoid being Prohibition Act of 1920’d, practice your peer pressure evasion and remember that you are your own person. You can chug an entire bottle of vodka if you want to.
Everyone knows about RCAs: the sweet upperclassmen in charge of keeping a hallway of naïve frosh alive via snacks and gentle threats of calling P-Safe if you don’t shut up. Don’t be fooled. RCAs are not human—no one could genuinely care about freshmen and their problems. They are an infestation of some evil creature, though I have absolutely no concrete evidence of this nor did I have one reason to not love my RCA. I urge all frosh to refuse any offers of cupcakes and to not be tricked into thinking RCAs are cool because they keep letting you in on campus secrets and suggesting parties to attend. It’s too good to be true.
The “Woody Wooing”
This event is more of a Princeton tradition than a hazing ritual, but it often throws off new students. Fall semester is always kicked off with the annual “Woody Wooing,” a ritual where every undergraduate is required to pay homage to one of the many designated Woodrow Wilson monuments, such as the Woodrow Wilson mural, the Woodrow Wilson statues, or the Woodrow Wilson school itself. A kiss and a heartfelt personal poem are standard offerings, but be careful to do it properly. Misconduct during the wooing is not tolerated.
The “Grumpy ‘Gruber”
Each night for the first six weeks of school, President Eisgruber stands in the dorm windows of freshman students, staring down unblinkingly. Once the sleepy frosh is awakened to the harsh glint of the night-Eisgruber’s glasses shining outside their window, the president slowly raises a piece of paper: the frosh’s letter of acceptance. With the student’s eyes glued on him in terror, he pulls out a bottle of Wite-Out and slowly, meticulously blots out the CONGRATULATIONS! printed at the top. After blowing gently on the paper until the Wite-Out is dry, he scribbles down a word, then holds up the paper to the window again. The letter now reads “I am delighted to ^NOT offer you admission to Princeton.” As tears stream down the freshman’s face, Eisgruber fades back into the night, his glasses the last thing to disappear. There’s really no way to avoid this if you are chosen—just try to ride it out and remember the kindness of day-Eisgruber, the one who told you “you’re here for a reason. We don’t make mistakes.” Sometimes hope is all we have.