Ask a fifth-year: Party Culture

Dear Sarah,

I haven’t been to a big house party on campus yet and I heard through my gossip train that Co-Op House always throws a big Halloween party. Is this true? What’s it like? What should I do to make sure I stay safe? 

– Single and Ready to Safely Mingle 


Dear Single,

Co-Op House does in fact always throw a Halloween party and if you play your cards right, it can be a lot of fun. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years to navigate the loud, sweaty atmosphere that are Lawrence house parties.

Bring earplugs. House parties, unlike most fraternity parties in the quad, almost always feature live campus bands. It’s great—you get to see Lawrentians from the con and the college show off their musical prowess in a venue that isn’t as rigid as conservatory concerts. The consequence is the volume. These bands are loud. The Union Street houses are zoned as single family residences, not concert halls and definitely not stages for ska bands or drum ensembles. I always forget to bring my earplugs and I always regret it. If you don’t want to run out to Walgreens to buy your own pair, the Conservatory office has some foam ones for free.

Don’t forget your coat. It’s Halloween, you’re at college and you finally get the opportunity to rock that sexy lobster costume your mom never let you wear in high school. Except you also chose to go to school in Wisconsin and the weather is really cold. I know sexy lobsters don’t wear black pea coats and they most certainly don’t hold onto them while they are dancing and rocking out, but sexy lobsters can get pneumonia. As fall turns into winter, it starts getting below freezing around 1 a.m., and that walk between Co-Op and your dorm will be very long and very cold.

Go with some friends. The buddy system works great in elementary school and at college parties. It’s always a good idea to plan to go to a party with at least one other person that you trust and who will watch out for you. Parties are dark places, and houses have a lot of corners in them. Assault should not happen, but sadly, it is still a serious problem on our campus and in the world as a whole. However, that is a column for another day. Arrive with a group of people and leave with the same group of people. Or if you consciously make the decision to leave with someone else, tell your friends where you are going.

Watch your fluid intake. Community punch bowls are always a bad idea. You never know what is in them, how much of what is in them, or if someone bothered to wash that kiddy pool they bought at the thrift shop with soap and water before they decided to pour alcohol in it. Don’t accept drinks made by people you don’t know. If you set your drink down for an extended period of time, don’t go back for it. House parties are one of those situations where you do in fact want to be drunk before the party; if you want to get intoxicated, do so in a safe space beforehand.

Send in your questions to and have them answered by Sarah, a double-degree student in her fifth year at Lawrence University.