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The Frat Pack


“Greek Life” at the college dates from the Civil War Era, Sigma Fying that a man belongedThe Frat Pack by Eva Pasco to a fraternity or a woman belonged to a sorority.  Typically, each blue and pink chapter had their own house of residence on campus. Proponents for college fraternities and sororities cite learning to live with a diverse group of individuals while contending with social and academic pressures, thereby fostering personal growth. Today, membership in cat and frat packs is a tough sell as many students don’t relish communal living, opting instead for virtual online communities such as My Space and Facebook. However, cat and frat packs thrived during the Sixties, shrouded in a thick haze of caprice, tomfoolery, pranks, binge drinking, and hazing. While varsity sweaters and Ivy League crew cuts might have been endearing to some, there was generally a low tolerance for obnoxious pack mentality.  


No film spray paints the typical high jinx, nonacademic aspirations, and crude behavior of frat packs as that of Animal House.  The screenplay, adapted by Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller, and Harold Ramis, depicts their own fraternal order of experiences. Art imitating life for the year 1962, viewers on sofas get an eye full of misfit frat boys from Delta Tau Chi House on the Faber College Campus in  Pennsylvania. Toga, toga, toga…Conduct violations, low academic standings, wild parties of debauchery, road trip misadventures, food fights in the cafeteria, schemes to compromise the plaid clad bubble flip blonde cats in one of the sororities, and making a shambles of the annual homecoming parade earn them enough demerits for expulsion.  

In Sixties reality, one of the unsurpassed college pranks occurred during the 1961 Rose Bowl where the Minnesota Golden Gophers took on the Washington Huskies.  Caltech students succeeded in altering the University of Washington’s halftime flip-card routine to read “CALTECH.”  Sets of variously colored flip cards and an instruction sheet had been left on seats in the section of the stadium where the Washington students were located.  When the students received a signal from the cheerleaders, each would hold up the flip card designated by the instruction sheet over their heads.  Things went according to plan until the twelfth image out of fifteen which should have been a husky, but instead resembled a beaver with buck teeth.  The next image which should have read “HUSKIES” was instead reversed to “SEIKSUH”… This infamous prank played itself out before millions glued to their TV sets. 

Though sororities and fraternities pre and post Civil War have pledged to uphold the values of high scholarship, community service, and philanthropy—frat packs of the Sixties threw down the gauntlet to party hardy rendering the image of the Four Freshmen and the Lettermen obsolete.  Usher in Bluto Blutarsky—“See if you can guess what I am now.” Watch him stuff a scoop of mashed potatoes in his mouth, hit his cheeks with his fists, and spit it all out. “I’m a zit.  Get it?”

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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