30 Years of Parties, Parades and Probation

Harmony Larson/Illustration

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It's been 30 years since John Belushi's world-record whiskey chug, the turtle dance to the tune of Otis Day's "Shout" and the advent of toga parties, but the place of "Animal House" among college comedies hasn't diminished. But how has this paradigmatic film affected real college life?

Besides the occasional toga party, no Berkeley frat encompasses the commitment to mischief and debauchery of the Delta House of that movie. Sure, a few on Channing may have the aesthetic appeal of Delta's rotting structure and sticky beer floors. And a couple houses may have a penchant for throwing glass bottles around liberally. We even have a frat that books big live music acts to play their digs. But no one frat exhibits all these traits.

Pledge hazing, tantamount to a sacred ritual for the Deltas, doesn't have the same gravitas in today's politically correct frat climate. Maybe that's for the best. Nevertheless, even the nicknames that Delta brothers gave to new pledges (i.e. "Flounder" and "D-Day") established them as a uniquely creative group-a description that doesn't seem to fit any Berkeley frat house.

Maybe the banner-holders of drunken tomfoolery reside at co-ops instead of on Piedmont Avenue. They have the same "fuck the security deposit" attitude as Delta House and have regular soirees with live bands and plenty of booze. Yet the members of Delta House kept a close crop (instead of ponytails) and avoided reefer. Maybe that's just a generational difference, but weed's calming effect undoubtedly limits the madness that's required for an "animal house" imitator.

We also have a lack of Blutos and Otters on campus. Spying on sorority girls changing from a ladder might have been okay in '62, but today, it'll get you a quick ticket to the Alameda County Jail. And how many students have been dumped for a GSI or professor? One thing's for sure: The golf ball-aided harassment of ROTC students has failed to catch on as a popular pastime here at UC Berkeley. Instead, a few undoubtedly bored individuals have chosen to tee up in the direction of recent tree sitters.

In light of such mischief, one has to ask how someone is placed on "double secret probation" at Berkeley. Or are we secretly doubly probated already? Sadly, there aren't enough Delta-worthy shenanigans that go on for us to find out.

Berkeley certainly has its fair share of conscientious students in search of the elusive 4.0. Maybe today's politically correct culture has stamped out the desire for drunken debauchery. In some ways, Berkeley's progressiveness puts a damper on any would-be saboteurs of, say, homecoming parades. The "good ole boy" establishment of Tom Faber College is noticeably absent at Berkeley, where faculty and police are fairly tolerant of protests and street takeovers. There isn't even a comparable parade to defile with said shenanigans.

So does this discount the influence of "Animal House" on our campus? No, the spirit of Delta House is alive and kicking along Piedmont. The film is the standard against which we judge some of our finest moments of drunken escapades and "futile stupid gestures."

Without a doubt, the proudest moments of any undergrad's years here may be those they rank as worthy counterparts to the pranks of Delta House. We may go four years without killing a horse or banging the dean's wife, but hopefully we'll all have a few joyous drunk moments in togas before graduating. Maybe we'll smash a hipster guitar or two. If so, we have "Animal House" to thank, for teaching us that right or wrong, this doesn't make us bad people. Just college students.

Tell Nick and Derek about a futile and stupid gesture at [email protected]

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