What I Learned From Painting A Fraternity Cooler

What I Learned From Painting A Fraternity Cooler

You've probably seen us all outside on the quad.

As an involved member of Greek Life, there is something observed that is ubiquitous as sunglasses and daisy-dukes as the weather starts to get warmer: girls sitting outside on the various quads around Emory University painting a sanded, primed and meticulously planned cooler. You might wonder why people would spend their time painting, planning and spending an unreasonable amount of time on a cooler when midterms, essays and even the looming shadow of finals exists.

However, the ritual and even act of painting a cooler dates back to the beginning of fraternities, sororities and the time-honored tradition of going out to the beach for the weekend and consuming many various types of substances.

The idea of a fraternity cooler is that when you are invited to a fraternity’s formal, you are often expected to make them a cooler that is usually painted, personalized, and filled with various types of alcohol that you’re meant to drink over the course of the weekend. However, the actual painting of the cooler is much more difficult than described. To paint a successful cooler often requires a substantial amount of money and effort. To ensure that the paint lasts a long time, you need to sand it and prime it, which takes a lot of elbow grease and physical exertion, unless you can lock down an electric sander.

However, during the formal season, electric sanders somehow are nowhere to be found and if you know a friend with one, she has probably become extremely territorial about it. After sanding, three coats of primer are required, and a wait in between for each coat to dry. Then, you can finally start painting, however, a white base coat is usually required.

Waiting for various of coats of primer and paint to dry before even beginning to design and paint cleverly strategized fraternity-related puns and allusions can wear down even the most artistic of people. After designing and painting, finally, a coat of mod-podge is required to seal the paint in to ensure it lasts.

You might ask, why would anyone want to attend a fraternity formal if so much time and money is required to prepare a cooler for it? Painting a cooler is often a huge consideration in deciding whether to accept an invitation. However, it is a ritual in some ways that many girls go through. Painting is debatably fun, and oftentimes girls will gather on the quads to paint and socialize together, making it a social event. Additionally, if you are attending formal with a boyfriend, significant other or a person of interest, it can even be considered an act that is very intimate.

Painting a cooler for a fraternity formal is a long, time honored tradition that will likely carry on throughout the years, given the massive database of inspiration contained on Pinterest. Even though coolers take a massive amount of work and care, it should also be noted that it comes with a free vacation, which oftentimes is reason enough.

Cover Image Credit: Qiqi Zhang

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