“We formally request the pleasure of your company at the most mythical day of the school year. Please join us as we celebrate the wonderful union of the various social groups on campus.
April 27th, 2016.
Central Campus and West Campus | Duke University
Please bring your own adult beverages.”
It is that day where half of the students in your classes, especially if they are morning ones, simply won’t show up. The other half will sporadically teeter in with opaque bottles filled with their favorite poison. By early afternoon, frat bros will be grouped around their holy benches decked out in jerseys and bucket hats racing to see who can pound back the most beers. Girls will be prancing around dressed in their cheeky high-waisted shorts and skin tight crop tops with solo cups in hand, snapping away with squad captions like “End of the year, but no new friends.” You might see that one girl who never speaks in class throwing it all the way back or that one kid who you only see in Perks at the earliest hours of the morning screaming at the top of his lungs. Everyone on this campus is extra thirsty and isn’t afraid to admit it. Anything, and I mean anything, is possible on this day. The limit does not exist.
You already know what it is. It’s LDOC, my friends. It is the last day of classes – that one day you have been looking forward to that has gotten you through the last few weeks of absolute hell. It is that oh so sacred Wednesday where the entire campus turns into a huge, alcohol-fueled, raging party like a scene ripped right from the script of Project X. Honestly, it is still a little unclear to me why exactly the administration lets us get away with this. Either way, I’m not all that concerned, and I’m certainly not complaining. There is a clear consensus that this day is one of the hypest, if it somehow hasn’t managed to claim the number one spot, days of the year. ‘Tis lit indeed.
For me, the magic of LDOC comes from the way in which it completely transforms, albeit temporarily, the campus atmosphere and how we choose to interact with each other. It is no secret that there is a social divide at Duke, both impacted by racial tensions and selective affiliations like Greek life; however, on this one day every year, that divide seems to almost melt away. At the very least, it sees its lowest point on this day. Now, I can easily see how some people would dismiss this magical haze that enchants our campus once a year. They will vehemently shake their heads and purse their lips, claiming that the alcohol’s responsible for the unparalleled openness and temporarily bridged gaps between different social groups. The truth is that the majority of us are completely trashed out of their minds, so of course we are a little gigglier and a whole lot friendlier. We could even dismiss the significance of this oddity by contending that students probably wake up Thursday afternoon, still tipsy, with little to no memory of the random ass people that they played beer pong with and draped their arms over as they slurred the lyrics and sang a little too loudly to “This Could Be Us” (who hurt you boo?). But you know what? I disagree.
It is generally true, except for the aggressive drunks here and there, that people tend to loosen up and become less self conscious while intoxicated. We feel lighter, more comfortable in our skins, and uninhibited to freely express ourselves. So yes, alcohol does influence this pervasive sense of freedom and acceptance towards others; however, while I agree that it plays a role, I don’t think it is the only factor in this equation. In fact, there are quite a few alcohol-inflamed events throughout the year. Between the darties that consume fall semester, the habitually Saturday Night Shoots, and the annual Old Duke, Duke students stay lit…or we can at least all agree that a large percentage of us stay drunk off our asses. Yet, none of these events bring about the same level of togetherness and goodwill that April 27th will. Of course they don’t.
“LDOC isn’t like any other day, but rather I believe that there is truly something special, something quite magical, about this day that allows it to bring about the unity that it does.”
Think about how the last few weeks have been for you and your friends, particularly after returning to campus after Spring Break. Then, add that to your memory of how fall semester went. I’m guessing that while there are flashbacks of delirious nights spent in Perks with your friends when everything just seemed to become funnier after 1 a.m. and nostalgia for those Wednesday wine nights with your girlfriends that left you dancing on the Shooters bar, the key words running through your minds are stress, stress, and more stress. You might spend your days in labs or your nights writing papers in Vondy. Maybe you are the type that starts your assignments days in advance or that kid that refuses to write a paper more than 24 hours before it is due. Regardless of what school you are in, we all work exceptionally hard here. It is quite obvious that our school has its longstanding divisions, but despite our differences in majors, personal interests, social standings, socioeconomic status, and race, we are all on the struggle bus together.
This is especially true for this time of the year when we are all incredibly relieved because hello? We only have a couple weeks left, but hello? All of our research papers, presentations, and last few midterms are also within these last few weeks. The stress is very real. Duke students are known for working very hard to project this image of effortless perfection despite how much academic pressure we are under and how packed our extracurricular schedules are; however, around this time of year, I have found that people are a lot more likely to be honest and upfront about how truly tired they are. This is the time of year where the “you good?” frequent check ins with your friends are met with variations of how we are all just trying to make it through the last couple weeks in one piece and with our sanity and some dignity intact. By the time May 27th rolls around, we will all be at our wits end or very close to it.
“LDOC is our reward to ourselves and to each other for making it through yet another stressful year here or for making it through your first stressful one if you are a freshman. A fact that unites all of us Duke students is that we are all ambitious and determined hard-workers. It is this underlying factor and the acknowledgment that we have all successfully struggled through to the other side that bands us all together.”
Obviously, we still have finals, but compared to what we have completed throughout the entire school year, those are much smaller hurdles. I can guarantee that none of us are really thinking about that on LDOC. The constant academic competition between us takes a back seat. For that one day, we get to reap the benefits of our hard work and just chill and vibe together stress-free. Now, it is not like we are all gathered around a campfire, holding hands, and singing “Kumbaya,” and the demonstration of unification is rather short-lived, as the divides seem to firmly fall back into place the next day. Nonetheless, I remember being shocked last year when I looked out at the main quad and saw how integrated the crowd was. Our campus looked like a picture cut straight out off one of those diversity brochures that universities are always shoving in our faces. Outside of Cameron, I had never seen our student body look that united, and I saw people that I suspect do not talk on a regular basis chatting it up. It was one of the rare times when most of us seemed to be on the same page. It is sad that this seems to only be possible on this one day of the year and in the glory of Coach K, but I suppose that it is better than nothing.
April 27th, 2016. It is the day where most risks are rewarded, if not appreciated, so why not use it to talk to someone new and hit up that hot guy or girl you’ve been too nervous to talk to all semester? Take advantage of this special day.
Let’s get weird, kids, and remember to drink responsibly.