Slope Day is a gigantic release for thousands of Cornell students who have been stressing over academics
and buried under snow
for most of the year. And yes, frats are highly noticeable, performing activities from roasting pig
s to bringing out couches. However, it's also an event for the general student body.
The name "Slope Day" refers to the fact that the event takes place on Libe Slope, which is the steep hill behind Uris Library.
Its been controversial for years, and there have been annual rumors of the university shutting it down or being stricter in enforcement of underage drinking laws. While Cornell doesn't advocate/support/approve of/sponsor Slope Day, Cornell Police are present and Cornell Dining provides food and drink. The idea is that the university doesn't want to have anyone die (and potentially be sued). The police, along with student volunteers, make sure no one's in any trouble (ie. passed out and unconscious). However, arrests and tickets are rare and reserved for especially drunken incidents (fistfights and public urination, for example).
Cornell has decided to try to draw people away from the slope with alternative (ie. non-alcoholic) outdoor events elsewhere on campus. In 1997, the university-sponsored "Hope Day" was poorly attended. Since then, "Slope Fest" has gradually gained steam, although it doesn't seem to be reducing the crowds at Slope Day any.
One striking feature of Slope Day is that the population in attendance is overwhelmingly white. Cornell's approx. 30% Asian and 10% black. However, Slope Day (and frats and crowds at highly popular Cornell hockey games...) is a resoundingly white event.
As for me, I've been to the last 7 Slope Days (4 as a student, 3 as an alum looking for an excuse to get a sunburn and a hangover). The episode which best sums up Slope Day happened just 5 minutes into my first one. It was only 10 AM and an already drunk frat boy sitting on a couch saw me (just 18 at the time, looked like I was 14) in a Yankees shirt and slurred out "Hey! Kid! I love the fuckin Yankees. Have a fuckin beer! NOW!" and proceeded to force me to chug a beer. A cop was watching, no more than 10 feet away. He just shrugged and walked away.