By MOLLY SULLIVAN
A distinguishing feature of Mary Washington since its inception has been its lack of officially recognized greek life. Unlike larger, more rowdy universities, the administration at Mary Washington has been quite content to not give students a reason to haze and drink heavily. While a few organizations have popped up over the years they have remained “unofficially affiliated” with the university, but they have brought some positive press and activities to campus, which begs the question, should we have greek life?
I have asked many students here if they would have rushed or pledged if given the (official) option and the majority of the them have either stated that they would have gone greek or would have at least liked the opportunity to have explored that lifestyle.
I personally feel that this “greeklessness” adds something valuable to Mary Washington’s atmosphere, or rather prevents the negative aspects that are often associated with it.
I transferred to UMW from Ohio University, a school that is notoriously known for it’s raging party scene and bustling greek culture. I arrived my freshman year devoid of any strong opinion on the subject; however, by the end of the year, I had developed a negative outlook on all organizations bearing Greek letters.
I soon learned that along with the philanthropy and social networking that greek life cultivates, discriminatory jargon and mentalities emerge as well. Terms such as “cargs,” which stands for cargo shorts, were soon thrown at anyone who did not join a fraternity or don the preppy wardrobe associated with it. Hazing is common, discrimination accepted, and partying often leads way to destruction of property.
Rivalries between sororities created hostility between arbitrary groups of college girls. I came to associate greek life with a system in which young adults socially stratify themselves in a world already riddled with prejudice and self-versus-other mentality. Needless to say I elected not to join a sorority and never cultivated an interest in doing so.
When I learned that the school to which I would eventually transfer had no officially recognized Greek life, I was relieved and anxious to cleanse my palette of the bad taste that the Ohio State greek life had left in my mouth.
This is not to say that greek life is purely negative and that all of those who are a part of the culture perpetuate the stereotype I just illustrated. My sister, for example, had an amazing experience with her college sorority and I saw how she grew as a person as a result of it.
However, generally I feel that there should be more universities that offer the option of a greek free learning enviroment.
Mary Washington provides this lifestyle. I feel as though this lack of recognized greek life is in fact not a UMW problem, but a valuable characteristic of our university.