Aside from Spring Fling, New Student Orientation is considered the biggest party weekend of the year among Penn students.
NSO includes both University-sponsored and student-organized activities. These events range from and street safety to social events run by Penn, like the party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Still, other students opt to go off campus for drinking and partying.
Prior to coming to Penn, new students might have heard rumors of Penn’s ranking as the , coupled with tales of its active nightlife. By the time they arrive, freshmen are not necessarily shocked by the fact that drinking and partying occur even at a top-tier academic institution like Penn.
Rather, new students said they were caught off guard by the extent of the partying. For example, many freshmen did not anticipate that alcohol would be so accessible and fraternity parties would be so popular.
“I do not know what I expected before coming to Penn, but the first time I went [to fraternity parties] at night, I was surprised to see so many people out and so many people drinking,” College freshman Emily Rush said.
Other new students were more taken aback by how welcoming fraternities were toward freshmen.
“Coming in, I knew there would be parties, but I did not think there would be that many freshmen,” College freshman Molly Hessel said.
Hessel added that she had expected the party culture to be more taboo. But in Hill College House and the Quadrangle, invitations to fraternity parties were conveniently placed under dorm room doors. This practice gave her the impression that events hosted by the fraternities are not only accepted, but even endorsed by Penn.
“I was surprised with how cool the school is [with partying],” Hessel said, adding that she thought students would have to sneak around to attend parties.
For transfers, however, the extent of Penn’s party culture is not surprising.
“[The partying] is about as much as I expected. New students expect to go out and party,” University of Michigan transfer student and College sophomore Niel Valecha said.
New freshmen and transfer students reported feeling social pressure from their peers to attend events hosted by the fraternities instead of those organized by Penn. “I totally felt pressured [to go to fraternity parties] because I thought not doing so would be weird,” College freshman Annika Iyer said.
“PennFest [a Penn-run NSO festival] was at 11 p.m., which is about the same time as when all of the fraternity parties started and everyone would say ‘go out and drink instead,’” Hessel said.
Despite all of the social pressure and feelings of anxiety that accompany heading off to college, new students generally regard NSO to be a positive experience and an effective way to adjust to Penn’s culture.
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