It’s a Tuesday night at The Keg. Much looks the same as last night: popcorn by the door, bathrooms down the hall, ESPN on the TVs — but everything seems out of place.
The cups are glass, not plastic, and the bartender no longer gives that look of contempt that says, “I know you’re underage.” The Jack and Coke is made with real Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey instead of cheap hangover-inducing stuff. Creedence Clearwater Revival plays at a moderate volume, replacing an ear shattering rendition of Lil’ Wayne’s A Milli. And the dance floor has a pool table in the middle of it, with two old men lining up a game.
Graduate students: they live near us, take classes in the rooms next door, but they seem all but unnoticed by young, undergraduate eyes. Where are they?
The answer isn’t that grad students don’t leave their apartments at night to study. They simply go out on different days than we do — such as Tuesdays. But Kellogg students have a reason for their weekday raunchiness: no classes on Wednesday.
Medill grad students don’t have that opportunity. Medill first year grad student Tara Kerpelman said social life within Medill is somewhat restricted because every student is on deadline for the next day and not everyone lives in Evanston. “We’re not centralized socially because people live everywhere,” she said. “I know of some people who live in Roger’s Park, but I’m not sure of what goes on over there.”
Back on Tuesday night at The Keg, a group of Kellogg students is crowding around a table in the far room, but they aren’t here to play pool. Cups start to fly. Looking over someone’s shoulder, a full-out game of flip cup is going on. Down to the final cup, the screams get louder, the girl flips her cup, lands it and wins.
One table over, ping pong palls whiz through the air. Evidently, you can never be too old to act like a frat boy. Even at The Keg. Or at the Field Museum, in a comical but illustrative incident we recently learned of.
Not everyone outgrows The Keg, contrary to popular belief. It’s popular for those who don’t need fake IDs, too. And, apparently, no one outgrows drinking games.
However, while it is legal for the grad student to buy and drink alcohol, that’s not all they do. Kellogg has a very strong social committee, headed by Kellogg senior Andrea Hanson, that organize many events. “All grad students have different interests, and spend time outside school doing different things: playing sports, attending Chicago sporting events, participating in cultural events,” Hanson said.
Hanson’s social committee also organizes many cultural events to introduce the large percentage of international students to American culture. Kellogg has hosted ethnic food fairs, cultural displays and artistic performances. “Our student body is 35 to 40 percent international,” she says. “One of the ways we like to show them American Culture is by getting tickets to Cubs or Bulls games.”
There are Medill sponsored events as well, such as a recent bonfire held on the lakefill. But Medill grad students traditionally meet every Friday after their tiring workweek. “On Fridays, we all go to Tommy Nevin’s,” Kerpelman said. “The teachers come too. It’s just a great place to socialize and see everyone.”
And holidays are a cause for celebration no matter the grade level. “Last night, a journalism student had a Halloween party at his apartment with some of his friends,” Kerpelman said. “There were some drinking games like flip cup. There was a keg, too, but it wasn’t a crazy party.”
After the Keg closes at 2 a.m., the night continues into an apartment, where another beer pong table is set up and a keg is carried in from the kitchen. Someone plays Blink-182 to restart the party — and it works. But eventually the night ends and everyone goes home to crash.
Clawing to grab a red solo cup and fighting your way to the keg may be fleeting features of college life, but the social scene does not abruptly change the moment you receive your diploma. Grad students at Northwestern still find ways to have fun, and though we may overlook their social scene, pretending the whole campus and all of Evanston are our stomping grounds only, you need only visit The Keg on a different day of the week to realize that the fun doesn’t die after graduation.