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BYOs are a Penn-unique way of socializing and relaxing with friends. Many transfer students are unaware of this culture, until arriving at Penn.

Credit: Carson Kahoe , Carson Kahoe

On any given weekend night, Penn students and countless boxes of Sunset Blush pack restaurants such as Banana Leaf and Ken’s Seafood. The massive flock to downtown Philadelphia is a result of one thing: BYOs.

Philadelphia is strict to grant liquor licenses, so many restaurants choose to be “BYOs,” where customers bring their own drinks. The restaurants serve customers the alcohol without checking identification, as they assume the party is all over 21 because they purchased the liquor themselves.

BYOs are a foreign concept to students at other universities.

College sophomore Aliki Karnavas, who transferred to Penn this fall from Georgetown University, said, “BYOs don’t exist in DC, so instead people would pregame dinner.”

She added that Georgetown’s social scene is different from Penn’s in general, as it has activities like Greek life on a much smaller scale.

“Georgetown only has five frats and their houses are tiny — usually about the size of just the dance floor of a typical frat here — so I was shocked when I came here and there were actually multiple rooms in the frats,” she said.

Karnavas said that the closest equivalent at Georgetown to Penn’s Greek life and BYO scene is The Corp, a student-run corporation that manages all of the food locations on campus.

“The application process to work for The Corp is really intense, but if you get in you’re pretty much set socially,” Karnavas said.

The Corp hosts many parties, but only members are allowed. Karnavas added that the different Corp storefronts also all have different reputations.

“The snack bar people were really chill and the salad place people were super hipster and vegan-y,” she said.

College sophomore William Tuseth, who transferred to Penn this year from Middlebury College, described the differences between attending a small liberal arts college in rural Vermont and a large urban university in Philadelphia.

“At Middlebury, the size of the college and surrounding area plays a large role in determining the social scene,” Tuseth said. “There are two bars in Middlebury that are only for those 21-plus since they are very strict on fake IDs. So, people usually pregame in dorm rooms and then head out to one of the upperclassmen suites on campus, or one of the few off-campus houses.”

Tuseth thinks that Penn’s social scene provides something for everyone.

“Bars, frat parties, downtowns and BYOs give plenty of options for people,” he said.

However, he also sees many ways that Penn’s social scene could potentially limit low-income students.

“Obviously downtowns, but BYOs can also cause financial stress for many students at Penn. The one aspect of Middlebury’s social scene I liked more is that most people who wanted to go out could because the cost was so low,” Tuseth said.