Drinking and smoking in dorms

My daughter recently attended the Athena overnight. Her host and other girls on the floor were discussing openly about the amount of drinking and smoking they do in the dorm rooms. My daughter was very turned off by this, and we are wondering if anyone has any insight into the prevalence of drinking and smoking in the dorm rooms at WPI. She is wondering if this is the norm, or maybe just the culture of the floor she stayed on. Obviously, all colleges have this issue, but if it is a large part of the culture here, and difficult to avoid in the dorms, then maybe WPI isn’t a great fit for her.

Sorry, I have no idea what the Athena overnight is.

Given the age group of college students, there will always be some group drinking. STEM universities, by nature of their academic demands, do not have a great deal of time to incapacitate their academic skill set. It is also true that MIT lost their PGD fraternity because of a serious alcohol incident. As a brother, I can boast that PGD at WPI has been at WPI continuously since 1891. So much for “blanket statements” number one.

Blanket statement #2:
WPI does not have a reputation as a party school, nor does MIT. I also suspect that the heavy concentrations of drinking students are not found among the Engineering majors, even at U of VA which was known for years as a quality party school.

There are still some very interesting, small women’s colleges, which are run as boarding secondary schools. They keep a very close eye on everything they can. As a young man I attended the boys boarding school down the street and was very surprised to learn that a select group from these two schools were sneaking out at night to drink in the woods. Who would have known?

Possible Answer:
Have faith in your daughter! It sounds like she know better and will pick her friends There will not be a lot of heavy drinkers at WPI.

Thought the following may be of some help. Check the student management team @ https://www.wpi.edu/offices/dean-students/meet-the-team

Emily Perlow is on the above listing. My reading of her background would suggest she is responsible for this area of student conduct.

Thank you for the link, good idea!
I didn’t expect WPI to be a “party school”, and I don’t think it really is. I’m also not worried about my daughter’s choices anyway, I do have a great deal of faith in her. She is the one who is very concerned about fitting in with a group, such as her dorm floor, if everyone is drinking heavily a lot, which her hosts directly said they did. Hopefully it was just the group she was with at her overnight, and not representative of the entire school. WPI does have a fun, laid back atmosphere for a STEM school, from what I can tell.

My daughter also did the Athena overnight and talked openly with many of the girls and also the guys that came to visit. She is not a partier by any means and is very honest with me as I am a pretty laid-back mom. She was told some of the kids smoke and some drink on the weekends. She said that most do not, especially in the dorm rooms. Most go to apartment or fraternity/sorority parties off campus for socialization/partying. She was also told there are groups that socialize and never drink/smoke. And there are also kids who are pretty anti-social and just game in their rooms.

Of all the schools she is looking at this has the least amount of reputation of partying. She is actually concerned there is not much fun to do at all because they don’t really have a lot of places on or off campus to do things without drinking. Most schools have ping pong tables, volleyball courts, rec centers with smoothie bars, card tables, big screen tv’s, etc… And some of the other places like Case have museums, music, movie theaters, bowling, Starbucks, etc… close by to just hang out.

You need to remember they are talking about ages 18-22. This will be everywhere at every single college in American. I certainly expect my daughter to drink and smoke during her time at college. I would feel MUCH safer with her doing this at a college like WPI, than a large public university.


As a student I pursued sports, music and occasional trips with Fraternity brothers. I don’t believe that part has changed. We had one place to grab a snack on campus. They always had snack food at the fraternity house.

They now have the Rubin Campus Center see https://www.wpi.edu/offices/rubin-campus-center They are even open to 3AM during exam week. They do advertise coffee and a game room! Are you looking for Starbucks?

Two blocks from the northeast corner of the WPI campus is an outstanding art Museum. See https://www.worcesterart.org/ My fraternity house was one block away. My english professor sent us there to write about our reactions to any piece of artwork that struck our interests.

On the northwest corner of the WPI campus is the American Antiquarian Society which was founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas. It houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, music, and graphic arts material printed through 1876 in what is now the United States, A remarkable place for history buffs. See https://www.americanantiquarian.org/about.htm. As I was pledging my fraternity a History professor from WPI was also pledging. He explained to me that he was teaching at our engineering college because this collection was next to the campus.

Our own jazz musicians and and University symphony supply our music. None are music majors, but they are very good and it is a very popular minor. You could drive to Boston for the BSO, but most cannot afford it. They do visit Worcester once a year. See https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/worcester-polytechnic-institute/2129774-musical-kids-at-wpi.html and also https://www.wpi.edu/news/infusing-stem-music

NewSR1- I am SO glad to hear that your daughter had a different experience at the overnight. This is exactly what we were hoping to clarify. I totally agree that this will be an issue at any school, and that’s fine, she just worried about how prevalent her hosts made it seem. But I suspected there were other perspectives, and she was just hanging out with a group who was more involved in it. I’m personally not too concerned about it, but it has made her hesitant about WPI.

It would be nice to have more options for things to do on campus, but it’s difficult to find the ideal school! Such a big decision!
Good luck!

Please see https://www.wpi.edu/offices/student-activities
Page down to the boxes and poke arouind. I did have a problem finding places to snack. “Things to do” looked helpful.

What a great link. The 100 things to do. Love that! Thank you @retiredfarmer

@Simplysublime glad to reassure you. My friend’s daughter is at Tulane. Known as the number 1 party school in the country. She isn’t a part of that at all. I think every school tends to have various groups and you have to find your group. That is hard at any college. My daughter was actually excited the sorority’s seem fun, welcoming and do a lot of service for the community. And as much as I was cringing at the 3 in a room dorms, I think it really encourages the kids to be socializing in the dorms, but also spending time out of them.

My daughter also went to the Athena overnight and her impression was similar to that of @NewSR1’s daughter. The students she talked to said that there are some parties on the weekend (frats/apartments) but my daughter didn’t see or hear about drinking/smoking in the dorms. (I think freshmen get blacklisted if they go to a frat party before/during Rush which is later on in the year.) I am sure there is going to be some drinking but my daughter didn’t see a huge party culture at WPI.

Her take away was that the it is a very collaborative, friendly campus and she loved that the ratio was more female friendly than other STEM colleges we visited.

When we toured WPI, we saw a double that had become a forced quad, though most of the rooms were triples. I was absolutely horrified (I never would have survived a dorm room setup like that in college)and I assumed even triples would be a dealbreaker for my kid… but she couldn’t have cared less. She let me know that it was my issue, and not hers – as long as she had a bed and an outlet to plug her phone and laptop into, she’d be just fine. She wound up in a triple with 2 lovely girls and they all had very different personalities, majors, and friend groups. They all got along swimmingly and she said there was not a single “roommate issue” all year. :slight_smile: This year she was in a double. Next year it’s an off-campus apartment with 2 friends.

Thank you so much for all the input! It’s good to hear about other’s experiences. It seems that my daughter was placed with a group of girls that were unusually fun-spirited, for lack of better description, and based on other things she told me. She has processed it now and has decided for sure on WPI!

@simplysublime that’s great to hear! I know this was a few days ago now, but I just wanted to add that as a student I’ve never felt pressured to participate in the drinking/smoking that happens on campus. I’m even heavily involved in theater, which has a reputation as a group that enjoys staying up to all hours drinking; I’ve never been to a party and don’t care to go and that hasn’t made me any less of a member of the group.

The rules around having alcohol in freshman dorms are really strict and it’ll be totally fair for your daughter to tell her roommates that she will not tolerate alcohol stored or consumed in the room. I had this understanding with my roommates (one of those forced quad in a double arrangements, don’t ask…), and though one of them occasionally returned to our room drunk she never kept any alcohol in our room. Most of the underage drinking occurs at frats and in students’ off campus apartments, but the school is very careful to encourage safety and good conduct.