Party Scene/Social life at Denison

Hi! I was recently accepted at Denison and since I don’t know anyone there and haven’t visited I would love to hear more about the party scene. Is greek life big? Are parties on campus/at bars? How many times a week do parties happen? Just things like that. I am definitely looking to have a social life with parties at college, but I also wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore partier.

Congratulations! There have been some other conversations about Greek life at Denison in the past week or so. You might want to take a look at the Denison Class of 2025 thread. Also, if you aren’t going to be able to visit before you need to make a decision, I suggest you contact Admissions and ask whether there are any virtual admitted students days, student panels, etc. There should also be a FB page for admitted students, and you should join that to get a sense who your classmates might be. My son is a sophomore at Denison and has been having a tremendous experience both academic and social. He is not in a fraternity, although both of his roommates are. There are no residential fraternity or sorority houses at Denison, so everyone is mixed in together in the dorms, and going greek or not going greek does not seem to be an issue. There are parties, both fraternity parties and others, but again it seems to be a matter of personal choice how involved to be in all of that. Parties are mostly on the weekend, with some on Wednesdays (my son’s assigned roommate last year was a hard partier, while my son is not). Most of the parties are on campus, I think there is only one bar in Granville and most students are underage. The school has been doing a lot of innovative things during the pandemic - fire pits around campus for gatherings, an ice-skating rink in front of the student union, outdoor movies, etc. - and I am betting that some of that will carry over even when the restrictions are lifted.

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I am curious to know if anyone has feedback about the social scene this year (21-22) at Denison. My son was accepted to Denison with a generous merit scholarship, so we are seriously considering this school for fall. I read a review on another site that the administration has cracked down significantly on parties and has stifled the social scene. I also read an op-Ed in their student paper that the crackdown just pushes the scene underground, where it becomes more dangerous. Any feedback about whether the restrictions were Covid related, or is this a newfound way to try to combat underage drinking? As a parent of course I am concerned about underage drinking, and understand that schools don’t want to encourage it. But at the same time, college students will find a way. If there is limited social scene in a rural location, that will be a concern. I appreciate any thoughts.

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My daughter is finishing her Junior year at Denison with a STEM major. In addition to all of the other wonderful things that drew her to Denison the fact that it’s 30-minutes to Columbus and OSU was appealing. Note, she has several friends that attend OSU. To date she has only gone to visit her friends at Ohio State one time in almost 3 years. She says there is always plenty to do on campus even during COVID. She is very happy at Denison academically and socially. Be aware although my daughter doesn’t smoke and drinks moderately she has friends that participate more and less in these activities. But it’s there if your son wants it!

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Thank you, this is helpful! My son also plans to pursue STEM, so his free time will surely be limited. But he is very social and I know he will want time to relax and be a college kid. I also understand the terrible predicament colleges are in when it comes to underage drinking. We all know it happens, they’re not going to stop it, but they want to subdue it as much as possible without killing all the nightlife.

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I defer to current parents, as my son graduated in '20. With the completion of the “Moonies” in 2020, the goal was to move the party scene out of the “Sunnies” which are the senior apartment buildings and couldn’t handle the continued heavy physical impact of the party scene. The senior apartments are generally 4 BR, 2BA apartments and one apartment would have hundreds of students crammed in and then spilling into hallways. Since the Moonies opened just before covid in spring 2020, the adjustment has likely been slow. There is presumably also a layer of sensitivity about the role of greek life and diversity and inclusion – since greek life is non-residential, parties were thrown in the dorms/apartments, often hosted by fraternity members in their apartments.

Something I really appreciated was that campus police did not criminalize “ordinary” student drinking – just being tipsy on a Friday night at age 19 was not going to lead to discipline. Of course, vandalism, alcohol poisoning, assault etc. – those would all lead to campus police action.

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Thank you. I’ll be honest that it’s hard for me to imagine Greek life without houses to congregate. The college I attended had a strong Greek life presence - fraternities and sororities all had houses. Social life revolved around the Greek houses and the large, open dance areas. I don’t think that kind of scene is necessarily the best these days, but it is hard to picture hundreds of kids crammed into an apartment building.

From my perspective the benefit of non residential greek life is that the students that pledge and ones that don’t still socialize and can be friends. As a STEM/Pre-med student my daughter doesn’t have the time or frankly the interest to join a sorority. But she plenty of friends that have and seems to get invited to a lot of activities. I have said before one of the great things about Denison is that you interact with a lot of different types of students and in my daughters case has a wide and varied friend group which she really enjoys.

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Agreed! I think one benefit is that kids are living with all kinds of kids. For instance, sophomore year, my kid and about 5-6 of his friends all used housing lottery to get on the same hallway of the same dorm, but there were lots of other kids on the same hall, all of whom they became friends with. In contrast, if there were designated greek life housing, that becomes the only people you live with. (Full disclosure, my kid was varsity athlete and not in greek life, nor were his closest teammates).

The culture of campus is very “intersectional” – kids are not defined by a single activity or identity, but rather very intermingled and diverse. I’m tiresome, I know, but it really is an extraordinary school, still undervalued!

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I think your description of the culture as “intersectional” is really on-point. My son is a junior, and for the past two years he has roomed with two good friends. The other two students are in a frat, my son is not; my son and one of his roommates are track athletes, whereas the third is not. My son met his non-athlete roommate during a pre-orientation trip and later introduced the two frat members. My son’s overall friend group is very diverse, and I think this bringing together is one of Denison’s defining characteristics. Regarding the OP’s question concerning the party culture, as you described, the school was in the process of moving away from the old culture of big parties in the senior apartments to a newer culture hopefully centered around the school-sponsored “Moonies” spaces when the pandemic intervened. As I recall, a couple of students were asked to leave campus when they refused to comply with the then-new Covid rules restricting parties and other gatherings, but that was at the very beginning. The school tried to be attentive to the students’ need to get together with their friends and was thoughtful in relaxing the rules over time. (The school’s handling of Covid overall has been really impressive.) At the moment, my sense is that my son mostly attends smaller parties, some frat-focused, some not. That’s probably partly due to the options that were available during the pandemic and partly due to his having “outgrown” the kind of parties he might have enjoyed as a first-year. He is not a big drinker, and seems comfortable with that. Now that he and many of his friends are 21, they also visit the new cidery in the village sometimes. In general, I don’t have the sense that the party culture at Denison is aggravated by the school’s location or size. Some kids party, some kids probably party too much, but that culture is not pervasive and there are lots of other activities available, both on and off-campus. The school also does what it can to promote safe drinking, so that a friend can call campus police to help a friend who’s drunk too much without worrying about the consequences. It’s a good place for a kid to learn how to be an adult.

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Thank you, these are all very helpful replies! We are going for revisit day in a couple of weeks, and are looking forward to seeing the campus for the first time! I’ve been impressed with what I have learned about the school, but was just unsure about the social scene. I am looking forward to experiencing the vibe of the school during our upcoming visit!

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If you care at all about ice cream, you should definitely check out Whitt’s Frozen Custard while you are in Granville. This is possibly the thing I missed most not being able to visit for the past two years and will be very high on my list when we visit next month. If you are stopping by for lunch, the Broadway Pub is also very nice. Granville is very pretty and has an interesting history - it was founded by folks who moved there from Massachusetts and it indeed has a very New England feel. The next town over, Newark, is bigger, although not especially charming, and has a movie theater, Target, etc., so the kids go there for things they can’t find in Granville. About 20-25 minutes away are the Easton malls outside Columbus - I think I remember reading it’s the biggest mall district in the Midwest. Certainly it has everything and anything. The school runs a shuttle to Easton and the kids go there with some frequency as well. My son’s a tour guide - maybe you’ll meet him!

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@dramakid2 , report back!! This was one that everyone in our family really liked. We felt they were just getting so much right!

While DS ultimately went elsewhere, he ended up with friends from Denison from study abroad. Nice kids, spirit of adventure.

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I will @gardenstategal! Nice to see you outside of the prep school forum! I have mostly avoided the college side of CC, been too nerve wracking as we waited on decisions!

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