UCLA and First Time at a Frat House

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Sometimes it’s surreal that I’m experiencing first-hand that which is the subject of so many movies, articles, songs, and jokes: college life.

Last night, my close friend Andrew and I went to visit some of our friends at UCLA. We had a great time.

It started with The Terminator. After an excellent sushi dinner in Westwood (a dinner in which the real men were identified by who cleaned out the most sushi — hint: I finished off the other three plates), our friend David saw Arnold Schwarzenegger drive by in a black SUV. David waved, and Arnold waved back. I had to console Dave. He wanted a "west side" sign, but I told him to accept Arnold’s gesture as awesome in its own right.

We then headed over to a sorority house of one of our high school friends. It was my first time in a frat or sorority house; Claremont has no such things. A pretty sweet set-up: 54 girls all living in one massive house, with private cooks, an admin, and plenty of hang-out space. We were only there for 15 minutes, but even in that short period of time the door-bell rang and a member of the same sorority from Michigan State asked if she could look around. It crystallized the networking benefit of being part of a national fraternity or sorority: it’s a whole new group of people with whom you have a special connection, independent of the network from your university. (The negatives also exist, of course. I heard stories last night of some sororities forcing its pledges to strip naked and then circling the parts of each girl’s body which are sub-par (e.g. a fleshy leg or something). Truly despicable.)

Next we hit up the UCLA basketball home-opener versus Portland State. UCLA is ranked #2 in the country. We had the pleasure of seeing Kevin Love, the #1 ranked high school player last year who committed to UCLA, play his first official collegiate game. Most experts say Love has long and fruitful NBA career ahead of him. My take? I want to see his outside game. At 6′ 10" he seems small to be a center or power forward in the pros, but apparently he can drain 3’s from the outside and has unbelievable touch down low.

Sitting around a friend’s apartment later in the night, as jokes were told, arguments hashed out, YouTube videos cited, and "new lines" coined, I thought of this paragraph from my old post on Tyler Cowen’s talk in Zurich:

He said America empowers youth as influencers — college students sit around and listen to music, start fads, build web sites, etc. They may not be "working" per se, but they are contributing enormously to American popular culture. Indeed, most of our popular culture is created by young people, and this is the culture that is exported abroad. If a country cares about the influence of its culture abroad, they should ask how much power is given to youth. He noted that Latin America and Asia have huge youth populations, making it prime for a lot of cultural influence in this next generation.

So true. You put a bunch of smart 18, 19, 20, and 21 year-olds in confined space and add alcohol, and you actually get a lot of crude creative output.

Thanks Dave, Teddy, Kevin, and Andrew for a fun night in LA.

3 Responses to UCLA and First Time at a Frat House

  1. Chris Yeh says:

    On the undesirable side of frats and sororities:

    The downside of Greek organizations stems from the same thing that gives them their upside–the self-selection of people with particular values and beliefs.

    On the one hand, who doesn’t want to live with friends who share the same interests? On the other hand, the possibilities of groupthink and self-reinforcing behavior can also bring out the worst in people. I’m sure you recall the famous incident where Delta Zeta’s national organization cashiered all the members of the DePauw chapter who weren’t slender blondes:

    link to nytimes.com

    I won’t even bring up the infamous “cookie” rituals at certain frats that make things like naked body penmanship look positively wholesome.

    On Kevin Love:

    I agree that his success as a pro will depend on his ability to shoot from outside. But I wouldn’t expect him to showcase it much during his (probably brief) time at UCLA. As I’ve noted before, Luke Walton has carved out a nice NBA career despite being slow, short, white, and unathletic, simply because of his feel for the game.

    Love reported has some of the best feel for the game of any big man since Bill Walton.

    On the creativity of the young:

    What makes the young so creative is the fact that they aren’t yet fully formed.

    I find it ironic that people often talk of finding themselves. Yes, it is definitely desirable to know who you are, but the process of discovering this tends to cement certain ways of thinking about the world.

    One of the reasons that great discoveries are made by the young is that they haven’t yet found themselves. They aren’t constrained by what they “know”.

    And while a lot of the things that happen when you mix young people and alcohol can be negative (believe me, I’m no proponent of the kind of mindless binge drinking that occurs at most fraternities), anything that increases variance will increase the probability of negative as well as positive outcomes.

  2. Laura says:

    Funny… Last weekend en route to UCLA with friends, we stopped to shop at Rodeo and we saw the Governator in Prada.

    Kale: Hey good job with the fires!
    Ahnold: Thaannks. *thumbs up*

    Apparently someone gets bored of the lovely Sacramento every weekend…

  3. Chris Yeh says:

    John,

    Sadly, racism is a part of sports. There’s a reason why there are disproportionately fewer black quarterbacks and white wide receivers, and it’s not just a matter of athletic ability.

    Quick, how many white players are starters in the NBA? Or better yet, how many white players are starting 2-guards?

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