Moments after Alpha Tau Omega President Andrew Crummey and three of his fellow fraternity brothers left the Rec Cen and headed toward their chapter house, they were bombarded by a squadron of approximately 40 water gun-toting Alpha Phis.
With an old western ballad playing on a stereo in the background, the sorority opened fire on Crummey and his crew, forcing them to retreat into their chapter house. After the initial shock of the ambush Crummey said he regrouped, grabbing his water gun and leading a squad of 20 armed ATO brothers into the battlefield, where Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Pi Beta Phi had already joined the water war.
“All that was missing was the tumbleweed,” Crummey, a second-year business economics major, said. “I don’t want to lose my pride over this, but they were beating us – at least before we got the hose out.”
This encounter was just one of the numerous battles fought by three pairs of fraternities and sororities, ATO v. Alpha Phi, Pi Kappa Alpha v. Delta Gamma and Sigma Alpha Epsilon v. Pi Beta Phi, during last week’s water wars. The weeklong battle consisted of both surprise and planned attacks throughout Isla Vista and on campus. Participants select their water weaponry of choice, from water guns to garden hoses and water balloons, and strategically soak their rivals.
Although water wars is not an official Interfraternity Council -sanctioned event, Crummey said the soaking tradition began informally on the UCSB campus and participants expect the warring to continue throughout Spring Quarter and in future years.
PIKE President David Klein, a third-year communication major, said some of his past tactics included physically transporting opponents.
“Some of the guys carried one of our good friends from DG out of ATO the other night and we proceeded to dump five buckets of water on her, drenching her completely,” Klein said.
While the water war guidelines vary from campus to campus, Crummey said that UCSB rules prohibit launching attacks within chapter houses – although lecture halls and classrooms are fair game.
According to Crummey, surprise attacks in the classroom often result in the drenching of innocent bystanders and disruption of entire lecture halls.
“A lot of times people from the frat will have a class with somebody and set them up or a lot of times the people will have a water gun in class and they’ll just start shooting at each other,” Crummey said.
However, Assistant Director of Greek Affairs Carola Alden said such maneuvers frequently anger the administration.
“It gets out of hand sometimes and we get complaints, so our office wants all of the students to be respectful and not to participate in water wars while in a residence hall, residence or classroom,” Alden said. “A lot of people come in here really upset.”
Pi Beta Phi President Stephanie Carter, a third-year psychology major, said she was sorry for any disturbances the feuding had caused the campus community.
“Water wars is supposed to be a fun daytime activity to enjoy good weather and to just joke around and have fun during Spring Quarter,” Carter said. “Our house would just like to apologize for any inconveniences and distractions it may have caused other students or staff. I think it did come across a little bit more intense than it usually is because so many houses are involved this week. It’s too bad because we like having it and don’t want to ruin it for future years.”