So, friends, the time is almost upon us again. The one day every year when sundresses, lodges and cooked meat coexist (semi) peacefully. If you happen to live your life mainly within the "Richmond bubble," as so many of us do, Pig Roast might as well be a national holiday.
Despite the fact that this event most likely comes from roots just as questionable as other more regularly-contested traditions such as Ring Dance, there seems to be much less outrage and controversy surrounding Pig Roast. It's not as if Pig Roast is morally infallible. I could easily have written this piece entirely as a critique of the event's divisive, marginalizing or otherwise problematic aspects. So why do we not hear any of the same cries to see its demolition?
Because Pig Roast is just really fun. How could anyone hate it? Pig Roast is like your crazy, fratty friend who parties a little too much but who, at the end of the day, knows the importance of a hearty meal, the value of a good nap and the truth in the adage, "the early bird gets the worm." They're not bad people. They're just trying to have a good time.
Granted, there are negatives as well as benefits to Pig Roast, as is the case with any of your run-of-the-mill, day-long booze-fests. So, if you are a first-year or transfer student, or have not yet experienced Pig Roast for whatever other reason, here is a run-down of some of those pros and cons.
Cons: If you happen not to drink, for any reason, Pig Roast could be one huge con for you. This would begin, especially if you live in a dorm, with rowdy neighbors waking you up early on your Saturday morning off with their needless shenanigans. From then on, the rest of the day is very exclusive of sober Spiders, unless you don't mind being one of the only kids who hasn't fallen down yet.
A similar complaint could be made by those who don't feel comfortable engaging in yet another of our many traditions during which fraternities are in exclusive control of all the party resources. During Pig Roast, this goes to an extreme because, not only do the frats have the alcohol and dance floors, but also food and shade.
Trying to have fun on this Saturday afternoon could then be very uncomfortable for anyone who doesn't feel entirely embraced by or safe within frat culture.
An additional con is the gendered and usually expensive nature of dressing up for the day. If you are a female, there is, to a certain degree, the expectation of The Dress. The Dress is short-ish and brightly colored, made of a nice material that is both fitted and flowy and screams, "I'm just coming back from Easter mass," in addition to, "get me a beer!"
Last year I wore one of my two slightly shabby go-to floral sundresses which I happened to bring to college, having no idea of their springtime ubiquitousness and import.
This year I know better. My dress this year, in a miracle of manufacturing, has managed to incorporate those blobby pink and green flowers, lace, bows, ruching and what I assume are pink faux-pearls but have been too anxious to look that closely at.
Notably, this purchase was, in part, a sad attempt at irony. But I also want to look pretty enough to not get yelled at when I inevitably try to cut the line for pulled pork barbecue. No one's going to throw their sesame seed bun at a girl wearing a huge pastel bow, right?
Sure, I would rather be wearing my Star Wars t-shirt. And that would actually make a far better message-to-the-man than my ultra-conformity. But, this way, I can have my own little inside joke (I don't actually like pink faux-pearls!) while still ultimately blending in.
This pressure to make a credit card charge that would otherwise be enough to subscribe to Ms. Magazine for almost a decade on a pretty way to blend in is definitely another one of Pig Roast's cons.
Pros: When it comes down to it, Pig Roast is actually kind of inclusive. In comparison to all the other fraternity-sponsored events that take place throughout the year, Pig Roast probably has the greatest participation by the broadest range of people. In some ways, it is a bonding tradition that brings together most of our campus in a spirit of Spider pride and unified identity that most sporting events can't even do.
There is also free food and dancing, and everyone looks really nice, until they fall down on that slippery porch/steep hill/really tricky ground, at least.
And this brings us to the following section, which is expert advice from veterans of Pig Roasts past, here to share their thoughtful and profound insights.
Some students offered practical guidance. Senior Ray Googe said simply, "Oh my gosh. Aspirin. As-pir-in." Sophomore Julia, a Westhampton Student '15, recommended, "Start early, get off campus. You start with breakfast and mimosas." To which Jill, another Westhampton sophomore, added, "Eggs and alcohol." Sophomore Martha Ashe said simply, "Hydrate." Perhaps the most essential tip was given by Senior Welles Ruhlin who said, "Don't sh*t behind another fraternity."
Senior Carmen Wicker had advice that could only be expressed through a Mean Girls quote: "On Pig Roast, you may think you can tackle that hill in front of the Lambda Chi lodge in your heels. But you could be wrong." In addition to this cinematic allusion, I have heard more than one reference to Lord of the Flies. Take that as you will.
Other students gave their input through personal anecdotes. Junior Samantha Lint reminisced fondly, "It didn't get creepy until the pig's head was on a stick." Sophomore Daniel Elie said, "I can't even really remember my Pig Roast. I was really hammered. Went back to bed around noon. Be sure to pick up your rallying Red Bull."
For our crowning piece of advice, the truth of which rings so pure and genuine it hurts, we return to Dowling: "Don't die and don't get arrested. Other than that you're good with anything"