OPINION: Satire: Frat parties mask up

Greek life develops new safety measures; keeps the party going



Whether it’s gas masks or chemical suits, WSU students have found a way to keep partying.

JACOB HERSH, Evergreen columnist

Hard-bass European club riffs pound through the thin walls of Kappa Kappa Zeta, WSU’s up-and-coming frat house. The smell of spilled beer and cheap cologne is pervasive here, on a Saturday night in August, where WSU’s finest are gathering to celebrate the beginning of the fall semester, regardless of the latest switch to online formatting.

But there’s something different about this frat party, namely, the prevalence of NATO and Soviet bloc protective gear. A sorority girl grinds past her boyfriend, dressed head to toe in a chemical suit, looking like an extra from HBO’s “Chernobyl” miniseries. The DJ’s face is covered by a Finnish gas mask, with extra filters screwed in to suck microparticles from the air and ensure clean, virus-free breaths.

“Yeah, it’s just something we figured we should do,” said Sam T. Coccus, sophomore business major at WSU, and member of KKZ. “To stay safe, and whatever, you know?”

Kappa Kappa Zeta’s insistence on biohazard containment gear at all of their parties is a result of COVID-19’s continuing prevalence in Washington. Coccus says it was a unanimous decision by the fraternity to require at least a gas mask before entering any KKZ events.

“I’m a fan of the Israeli M4A1 civilian gas mask, myself,” said Nora Veiraz, freshman veterinary sciences major at WSU. “One of my sorority sisters insists that the Russian GP-5 is the more protective choice. Personally, all that rubber makes me claustrophobic, and the M4A1 comes with a straw, so I can still chug White Claws!”

In fact, it’s become something of a fashion statement already on Greek Row to deck out gas masks and chemical suits in glitter, bling and school colors. In fact, one of the Kappa brothers was able to procure a Butch mascot head on the black market and retrofit it with virus-filtering technology, allowing him to represent WSU football — while staying safe and protected.

“I put those little stick-on jewels on mine,” said Mersa Methicillin, junior veterinary sciences major at WSU, wearing a Czech M10 military surplus mask bedazzled with rhinestones. “It’s prettyyyyyyy!”

When asked about whether or not the gas mask mandate would continue throughout the school year, Coccus shrugged his shoulders. Coccus explained that safety is the frat’s No. 1 priority, and if it takes Three-Mile-Island-level protective gear, then that’s what’s going to have to happen.

Whether or not this is going to catch on among other fraternities around the state, or even the country, remains to be seen. However, there have been social media sightings of gas-masked partiers on the University of Washington and the University of Oregon campuses. One of the UW partiers even gained some level of internet fame after drunkenly philosophizing into a friend’s camera.

“Aren’t we all wearing masks?” a student says in the video, which can be found on YouTube. “We live in a society.”

Interesting words from the most unlikely of philosophers. When it comes to the WSU campus, however, it looks like the gas mask trend is here to stay. Other fraternities on Greek Row have implemented mask mandates, and some have even stepped up their game, requiring that all partiers step into a chemical shower before entering. Temperature scans, air tanks and decontamination are all used as well, to make sure all attendees are completely sterile.

Does this detract from the fun, however? Most students emphatically said no.

“I don’t care if I have to wear a f-ckin’ spacesuit, I just want to PARTYYY!” said Connor Avirez, freshman biology major at WSU. “Let’s get litty in biological containment, boys! Pass me a test tube and some Erlenmeyer flasks, we’re mixing Jager and Red Bull until we find a cure … for a boring night! WOOOOOO!”