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Monday, May 16, 2022

Rich for a Night

It is no secret that Midd has a predictable social scene. You know that, for example, you will usually find the athletes at Atwater and the minorities at KDR. Several friend groups are dictated by socioeconomic status, whether it is being highly privileged or being here on a full ride. I’m somewhere in the middle - I am a minority who is extremely privileged. I am friends with athletes and non-athletes and have tried my best to sample the options on the social platter at Midd. Still, I struggle to find a place where I truly belong and find that the social scene here can at times be exclusive. This article expresses the opinion of someone who wishes for a more integrated nightlife on campus and feels that some themes of parties here are only strengthening the cliquey-ness of the student body, as well as reflecting poorly on the campus’s elite.

“There is no way in hell I am going to the white privilege party,” is a statement I heard last weekend. I was confused; I couldn’t fathom an event with the theme of white privilege, something highly discussed by certain groups on campus. Upon further inquiry, I learned that last Saturday night there was a “Country Club” theme party at an off-campus house being referenced by others as a gathering of the white and privileged.

Themed parties are usually a blast, but some themes disgust me not just as a member of a society but also as a woman. Parties like “CEOs and Office Hoes,” “Tennis Pros and Yoga Hoes” and “Naughty Professor and Slutty Schoolgirl” show men as accomplished and women as nothing but sexual beings, but for the sake of this article I’ll put my feminist rant aside and say that these themes are all right because they are inclusive. The majority of people on this campus identify as male or female and can be included in these types of themes. There is no specification on race or class.

These themes celebrate sex, and maybe that’s okay. Hookups are rampant on our campus, and we are young and looking to have a good time. It is fun to dress up and be someone else for a night, and if you’re happy to be a yoga hoe, go for it! But while you can fake being a Slutty Schoolgirl for a night, can you fake being rich?

Parties like “country club” aren’t celebrating something that everyone has — they celebrate wealth. Urban Dictionary definitions of “country club” include a “group of an elite few,” “referring to, in a derogatory manner, ease and privilege” and “pertaining to wealthy people and things that characterize them.” A common theme here: wealth. Still don’t buy it? Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives a definition of “country club” as “having qualities (as affluence) associated with the members of a country club.” This “country club” party created and ensured access to only the elite, because who else goes to country clubs? It also seemed to be based on the underlying assumption that everyone who would be attending this party had a level of extreme wealth.

The theme of this party further perpetuated the stereotype of “biddies and bros” on this campus. It is not hard to tell who the elite are in our respective years and having themes like “country club” only increases the existing classism at Middlebury. To the people who held this party: did you think about it? If the theme was one of unintentional exclusion, then I mean no offense to you, but I encourage you to think. Are all your friends in the same socioeconomic class? Do you want to help bridge the divides on campus? And if this theme was intentional and you did mean to keep out those who cannot attend country clubs, I am outraged.

As a student body, we need to contemplate what we want out of our time here. People often complain and discuss the high school-esque experience of being at Midd and the harsh lack of racial and socioeconomic diversity. Our social scene is definitely filled with cliques, but the only way to move towards ending this is by stepping out of your clique. We need to be inclusive in order to create a more accepting environment on campus, and learn from each other’s experiences. The wealth we need to focus on here isn’t the one in peoples’ pockets, but the wealth of having an increasingly diverse student body. So let’s not be stuck in our own bubble, inside the bubble.