Work hard, play hard

It’s Monday.
The day begins with you handing in an all-nighter paper followed by two hours of lecture on a topic you don’t fully understand. Lecture finally comes to a close with a relieved round of applause from the hall. As you push back your seat and collect your things, you wonder if everyone else is just as confused as you are—hoping they are.
Making your way down the halls you clench your teeth, nervous everyone will notice you have nothing to say. Nervous you really don’t have anything to say. You’re already forgetting what the lecture was about.
You wander back to your room.
Last week was hard, this week might be worse. You need to celebrate in the few moments you have before reading another 90 pages. Luckily, somewhere on campus, someone will be throwing a party for the same reason. Maybe everyone is already there, just waiting for you to show up.
In your head you shout a triumphant TGIFM—Thank God It’s FYP Monday.

Each person who enters FYP is told two things: they’re entering a tight and peculiar community, and it’s going to be one hell of a tough year.
A whirlwind academic tour through the history of thought, philosophy and religion, the program requires students to give over mind, body and soul.
FYP can be taxing.
“If the arts are like the military, FYP is like the Navy SEALs training,” says Clifford Lee, the don of residence for Middle Bay.
Lee and nine other dons on campus hold the job of supporting students with their academic and social lives. This includes being aware of the large number of parties thrown in residence throughout the year, even multiple times in a week.

(File photo: Evan McIntyre)
(File photo: Evan McIntyre)

While partying on a university campus hardly sounds like news, a party thrown at King’s usually comes with a twist. Lee says he has not been instructed to prohibit drinking in students’ rooms, or to keep them from storing alcohol.
King’s has become known for offering alcohol at school events, mostly sherry and wine.
Most parties at King’s are thrown with a theme.
One example is the annual tradition of the Dante party. Thrown in one of the residence buildings, the party is set up in four levels to signify Dante’s Divine Comedy — the dark wood, the inferno, purgatory and paradise.
Lee says he thinks a lot of the parties and drinking habits at King’s have to do with the works being read, such as Dante.
“After finishing large and difficult texts, the students celebrate the books and their accomplishment in reading them,” Lee says.
(Photo: Ashley Corbett / The Watch)
(Photo: Ashley Corbett / The Watch)

So where does this need to party down with the classics come from?
Lee says while everyone is different, many students experience a similar kind of stress from the workload throughout the year and seek some kind of outlet.
Beth Airton, a FYP and journalism student, says it has a lot to do with the fact that so much of what students do—academically and socially—takes place within the enclosed quad, almost as if students are unable to escape their studies.
Airton says if it wasn’t for her journalism assignments sending her off campus, she’d have almost no reason to leave and no energy to do so.
“By the time I leave lecture, I just need some coffee,” she says. “I’ve even started napping every day.”
While the amount of work is one contributing factor, the content itself can have a high impact on students.
Airton says investing so much time and effort in something like Dante has made her excited to celebrate it. At the same time, planning for the celebration has helped keep the subject in her mind.
“Because my friends and I were talking so much about dressing up for the party,” she says, “it helped me remember little details for the midterm.”
Lee says that Nihilism and the German philosophers like Heidegger can hit students especially hard.
[pullquote]“All of a sudden (students are) being told to question the religious concepts they’ve been taught from September. Nothing makes sense.”[/pullquote]
The stress piles on as quickly as the daily reading. With a paper due every other week, students are left seeking outlets for a sense of release and a celebration for another hurdle crossed.
While students at King’s have been given ample opportunities to party, they must operate under the understanding that they will act wisely and not abuse them.
So far students have done well.
Lee says he is always surprised by the maturity shown by students.
“They take so much responsibility,” he says. “In such a small school you have to. There’s no anonymity.”
Last year, the students throwing the Dante party kept the dons, the dean and security in the planning loop. They even had a student checking King’s IDs at the door and patrol present throughout the night.
Lee thinks the high level of maturity comes from the type of students attracted to King’s and the community the program instils: a bit of nature and nurture.
A testament to the program itself, parties stand as a foundation in socialization. The dons work to promote the idea that the event is the point, not the alcohol.
Entering one of the parties, the caring and mutual support amongst guests can be seen immediately. The academic influence is even more apparent. While only some students are armed with drinks, many are talking about what they read that day. 

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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