Mailbag: Pushing Your Luck With Nationals, Raising A Dog While In College

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Welcome to the TFM Mailbag, wherein I will answer your questions to the best of my ability. Send your questions to No topics are off limits.


My fraternity is nationally a dry fraternity. It has never been enforced before but recently our grades were almost literally in the shitter. Nationals was so pissed they told us that there is no alcohol to be on the property at all. Our nationals HQ is only about an hour away from my chapter and from what exec has been telling us they’re enforcing this dry thing on us pretty seriously. We still drink in our rooms (obviously) but it’s just not the same and we want to throw parties again. On the bright side we are in totally good standing with the IFC and the school, which are the main organizations who have it out for fraternities at my school.

So under the school’s watch we are totally able to throw parties like we always have but as soon as the school reports to our nationals that we are throwing down again (which they automatically do when we register a function with the school) we run the risk of getting the boot. The part that really hurts is they said that we can apply to become a wet house for a year if we as a house get a 3.0 average GPA for the previous semester. Prior to becoming dry we were at 2.4 and within a year have brought it up to 2.8 but being at an incredibly hard academic school it’s almost impossible to reach a 3.0. Also keep in mind, my chapter donates the 3rd most nationals and is easily one of the biggest chapters nationally and after them kicking off [chapter and violation redacted for anonymity’s sake] (can’t believe you guys didn’t report on that) and I feel like they would think about kicking us off more cautiously.

All we wanna do is rage our faces off and live our short college lives the way they’re supposed to be lived in college. We need a solution as to what we should do to get around this. Is our nationals bluffing? Do you think they would let it slide since the improvement in our GPA and already losing another huge chapter? What’s the best way to bring back the glory days while running the minimal amount of risk of getting kicked off? We need your old balls wisdom here and a WWWD (what would Wes do).

Think of it this way: You guys are a bunch of snot-nosed neighborhood kids and your national fraternity is an old man at the end of the street who you like to play pranks on. It’s your classic juvenile stuff like ding-dong-ditching him, leaving a flaming bag of shit at his doorstep, and other sophomoric hijinks. The years haven’t been kind to the old coot, and you’ve always been one step ahead of him.

However, the game has changed. That old man has been taking some new meds, and he’s more alert than ever. If he got his hands on whoever’s been pranking him, well, they’d be in a world of pain. Now I’m not saying you should totally give up on rocking the boat altogether, but you’ve got to be tactful now. You’re never going to bring back the “good old days,” but there’s still fun to be had. Here are some of the things you can do to keep nationals off your trail:

∙Register a party for a specific date, but don’t actually throw the party until a day or two later. All the attention will be on your house on the day of the decoy party, where nothing will go wrong.

∙Buy soundproof fabric and install it around windows, doors, and any other seams of your house.

∙Time your parties so that they’ll take place on the same night as other houses’ parties. If you get in any trouble, you can blame it on runoff from another house.

∙If your nationals doesn’t have absolute proof of you violating rules, deny all allegations until kingdom come.

Yo Wes,

Here’s one I imagine you don’t get too often, but here it goes. I’m a sophomore, taking classes, living at the fraternity house this year, and also will pick up a part-time job during the school year. I’ve wanted my own dog since I moved to college, and I’m wondering when you think the best time to get one is? I just don’t know if I’ll have enough money and/or time to spend with it for me to justify getting one right now. Any advice is good advice to me on this, thanks dude.

I don’t often get serious on this column, but this is man’s best friend we’re talking about. I’m not your dad or anything, but I think it’s a really bad idea to get a dog while you’re in college. You’ll probably be moving around a lot in the next few years, and your work and school schedules will be inconsistent. Want to go on a five-day lake trip with the boys? You’ll have to figure out arrangements for the dog or bring it along and look after it the whole time. What if the dog eats something toxic and needs its stomach pumped? You’ve got to be able to foot that bill.

I had a friend who got a dog while living in his fraternity house and I always felt bad when there was loud music playing or when lots of people were over. After a year or so of bringing up the dog in a less-than-ideal environment, he decided that his schedule was too demanding for him to continue raising the pup. He ended up giving the dog to another friend of ours who is taking great care of it to this day, but that story could have easily had a much sadder ending.

Don’t get me wrong — having a dog would be awesome. However, it’s probably not the best commitment to make during your undergrad and fraternity years.

Hey Wes,

I just graduated high school and I’m going to a big college known for having a pretty great party scene. I’ve known for a while I wanted to join a fraternity and I have a couple questions for you and the commenters below, the first being how do I manage to tell my parents that I am going to join a fraternity? My parents and most of my family don’t like fraternities and often tell me how I shouldn’t get involved in one based on what they hear on the news because none of them were ever in one and they don’t know much about them. I know it might not be any of their business but they will find out eventually so I might as well tell them before.

My second question is, would it be a good idea to reach out to the fraternity I would like to join this fall and try and make contact with them, letting them know I would like to rush and try to make a good first impression? Thanks.

If your family doesn’t like the idea of fraternities, nothing you do is going to change their minds. It’s your life and you can do what you want, but it’s best not to make things worse by rippin’ cigs at family functions or having seven light beers with Christmas dinner. Most quality Netflix and HBO content of the last decade is about a complex male antihero who has to balance two completely different lives, and you need to study up on how they do it. I’m prescribing the full series run of Breaking Bad and as much of Ozark as you can watch before falling asleep.

To answer your second question, only reach out if there’s a really clear and obvious means of doing so. If you have to do a lot of digging to find a phone number or email address to contact, people will wonder why you went to such great lengths to do so. If you wanted to ask a girl out, you (hopefully) wouldn’t do a reverse image search of her friend’s three-year-old Instagram post just to find a link to her food blog buried in the metadata. Don’t come off too eager.

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WJ Cope

He's the real reason people say "No one likes you when you're 23."

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