The noxious stench of paint and the hiss of aerosol being sprayed clouds the spring air every year on Tulane’s campus around the first and second weekends of April. Coolers, painstakingly crafted, lie out on the quads of dorms drying with the icy cool blues of the “Coors” mountains or the black and white curving script of “Jack Daniels” on one side and the vista of a melted orange and pink sunset on another. Excited girls smile and laugh through the fumes and detailing of these perfectly primed and painted coolers, knowing they were the chosen ones who will get to attend the frat formals that are held every spring in PCB.
Meanwhile, others walk by, swallowing the sadness of being so noticeably excluded from the sandy white beaches of Florida; sighing knowing they will watch their Instagram feed fill up with picture after picture of laughing bikini-clad girls who may have truly had the best weekend of their lives or who may be disguising a beach weekend gone horribly wrong.
Although a cooler seems a small and fair exchange for the price of getting whisked away to a beach weekend that is fully funded otherwise, the price may be far higher than what it appears to be on the surface. The coolers will be filled, bikinis bought, workouts upped, and dates snagged until the final weekend when the trek is made to the beaches. You are most likely sharing not only the copious amounts of alcohol that the cooler is stocked with but also the one bed that is in whichever slightly questionable motel/hotel room the frat has funded.
While it is said that there is no pressure to have sex with whichever boy takes you as his date to this infamous event, the weekend unfolds and the reality of the situation sets in. Your friend goes off with her boyfriend, your other friend is deep in conversation with her date, and you’re left to fend for yourself with someone you may not even know at all. And amidst all the jeering and joking the boys exchange is the hard truth: many girls will end up having sex with their dates out of some twisted feeling of obligation, a thanks for taking them to the beach, a drunk choice that wouldn’t have been made had you been staying in a different room.
The pressure to find a date so that you can make the trip to the beach leads to awkward interactions where you half-know the person or simply have never met them before at all. This can lead to situations where the line is blurred about where or how to spend the night. While this isn’t meant to scare away girls or dampen the excitement of a fun weekend, think about how this tradition makes people feel. As the month of April rolls around, girls across Tulane’s campus call into question their own self-worth, their bikini body, and the feelings of obligation that are often overlooked as the trip is made down to the soft, sandy beaches of PCB. It may not be exactly what it appears on your Instagram feed.
COVER PHOTO: The Cardinal