Diary of a Fresher: I'm part of the élite and I feel like I've gone over to the dark side

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The Independent Online

Last night, I went on my first ever drinking society swap. In a nutshell, this entails the self-appointed male social élite from my college going out for a meal and clubbing with the equivalent females from another college.

I dislike drinking societies on principle. As with any attempt to make social standing official, to draw distinct boundaries between "in" and "out", I find the concept superficial, babyish, and probably derived from the members' own insecurities. I do sometimes wonder exactly how much of my opinion stems from my own low-level jealousy. But no longer. Last night, more guys were needed to make up numbers, and so they called me. I'm "in".

Sadly, this is less to do with my rise in the social ranks than it is the recent tumult within my college's drinking society. The oligarchy whose collective iron fist ruled unchallenged during the first term has begun to splinter, because of pressure from the proletariat as well as internal wrangling. Happily this leaves room for people like me to make our less triumphant entrance on to the social stage.

The evening began with all dozen of us (I use the pronoun with pride) swaggering, pack-like, into town, each of us wearing a mock-up of school uniform, in accordance with the evening's schoolboy/girl theme. I felt self-conscious that everyone who saw us would know exactly what we were and what we were doing. What disturbed me was that it actually felt nice. To hell with the injustice of social segregation – being an official part of the in-crowd, for one evening at least, feels fantastic.

The girls, from another college, appropriately pigtail-clad and with freckles drawn on, were already there, sitting in alternate places around a long, thin table. The exact 1:1 boy/girl ratio is extremely important, which, I suppose, is why I was there in the first place.

The restaurant's food, I was told, isn't the best. Ominously, I was also told that by the time it arrived, I wouldn't care. This turned out to be true. You know it's going to be an interesting evening when drinking games force you to finish your bottle of vinegary white before the waiters have collected your orders.

I was hardly alone in my alcoholic excess, and so the meal ended predictably with a naan-based food fight, most people's curry having been rendered inedible because a couple of people decided it would be amusing to pour water on to everyone's plates. Next came a stop-off in one of the cheesier local nightspots, a return to college at an unspecified hour, followed by the lovely sensation of waking up just in time to watch the inevitable collection of embarrassing photos trickle on to Facebook. Tamer than most swaps, I'm told, but I liked it.

I suppose that makes me a hypocrite. I do, at least, concede that most drinking societies are far kinder and fluffier than, for instance, the Greek university culture enjoyed/endured by all the boys and girls in America's universities. The fun is basically harmless – the restaurants that subject themselves to our drunken misbehaving are specifically designed to cater to drink socs. It's as considerate as anti-social behaviour gets.

I still feel like I've gone over to the dark side. The fact that I get a kick from the whole thing doesn't stop me knowing that it's an unpleasant part of me that it appeals to.

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