It wasn’t until I became a FREC that I understood how Frosh Week shaped the way I think about alcohol.
I didn’t drink in high school. Beer tasted bad and drunks seemed pathetic, so I chose to abstain.
As soon as Frosh Week started, I utterly loved my FRECs and couldn’t imagine anyone cooler than them. For the first few days, my disinterest in drinking didn’t matter.
But as the week continued, my FRECs realized that their star-struck frosh group would never complain about being uncomfortable. Given silent permission, they began to tell “apple juice” stories. They used the term as a code phrase to avoid getting in trouble for talking about alcohol with frosh.
Naturally, this made the group even more curious. Soon enough, other frosh in my group followed their FRECs’ example, relating their own “apple juice” stories from Frosh Week nights.
I didn’t drink at all during Frosh Week. Having only been in Kingston for a week, I didn’t really know anyone and had no means of obtaining alcohol. It was disappointing to hear my FRECs talk about “apple juice” as if it was more important than my Frosh Week. It made me pretty cynical for a while.
Almost a year later, I arrived in Kingston for a week of FREC training. Pre-week, as it’s dubbed, consisted of alcohol sensitivity training during the day and FREC parties at night with unbelievable quantities of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Purple Jesus.
It was like a strange distortion of Frosh Week, made worse by the fact that its participants were supposed to promote safe and inclusive drinking habits among frosh less than a week later.
The day before Frosh Week, I became aware of this giant hypocrisy and had a minor panic attack. I realized I was utterly unprepared for my frosh.
The week came and I ended up doing what felt right. I was friendly and open with my frosh. I didn’t hide behind “apple juice.” When they asked about alcohol, I never withheld an answer. But I didn’t make it the secret focus of Frosh Week either. It was about having fun first.
There’s a reason it’s not called FREC Week. Orientation leaders are entitled to their own drinking habits, but frosh, regardless of theirs, should be the number one priority during their week.
Let’s leave the bottle behind when we welcome future classes to Queen’s.
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