It was the start of the second semester of my first year at Kenyon, and like many first years, I felt that my life on campus needed to embellished. Many of my peers turned to Kenyon’s Greek community, but I didn’t think that was the right choice for me, primarily because of my general fear of men. But in the week after Rush Week, I saw an announcement encouraging me to rush the Thrill.
This was perfect! I would get to expand my on-campus activities while living out my all-consuming fantasy that I am funny and people care about what I have to say. The Thrill’s inhumane rushing events recently came to light, and the Thrill apologized. But what you don’t know is that after Rush Week, hazing began, and that is when I left the world of the living and descended into hell.
I left the final Rush event, Body Combat, bloody, nearly toothless, but victorious. I would be inducted into the Thrill. That night, a group of people in formal attire came to my door, stole my roommate’s mattress, and told me that initiation would begin tonight at 10:12 in the Kokosing.
I went to Kokosing at the designated time, keeping my pants dry with the signature pants-roll I had to meticulously craft to keep from being a Kenyon social outcast. The entire staff of the Thrill emerged out of the darkness in a kayak and told me, “This is where you will sleep for the next two weeks. You will not return to your room. You will not change into a dry pair of clothes at the start of the day.”
They also made me wrap chains around myself and drag them behind me throughout the day. “This,” they told me in a chilling whisper, “is to remind you that your bad jokes will drag us down. Now, quick, tell me: when was the first piece of Kenyon-specific humor made, and where was it formed?” They were old chains, too! I’m pretty sure I got tetanus.
When I talked to older Thrill members, they all told me the same thing: that hazing was hard, but it was worth it once you got to the other end, that I would bond with the new inductees over it. Yet something dark stirred in their eyes. I also had to go through the catalogs of the Thrill. “At the end of this process,” they said, “you will be tested. You will be given the names of random Thrill members past and present and will have to say the funniest thing they ever wrote. There is a right answer.” I spent hours every night poring over the Thrill archives, and my grades started to slip. I had to mulligan a class that was going to count toward my major. I lost friends. My hair fell out.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why would I ever let a silly campus activity dictate my life like this? And, believe me, I was thinking that, too. I swore I would never let some extracurricular activity alter my own personal identity. But during Rush events, they all seemed so, like, nice! So surely, I thought, it would be worth it to go through a few tough weeks. And I was really doing this for the post-graduation job connections. The workforce is full of Thrill siblings.