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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Letter to the Editor: School Spirity Falsely Portrayed

Dear Editor,

I was disappointed in Valerie Lapointe’s portrayal of our lack of school spirit and Washington Guides as an organization. Through arguing that the University of Mary Washington has no school spirit, she also managed to dishonor a very credible organization on campus.

In my sophomore year, I became a Washington Guide because I had pride and spirit in what UMW had to offer current and prospective students.

Through the initial training, tour guides are given a handbook on the basic information to know and to give on a tour. However unlike the majority of other college tours, the tours at Mary Washington are unscripted. The volunteer student guides create their own dialogue with guests and prospective students. Honesty is key because we want to attract similar students that will enhance our student community.

Speaking on behalf of our “waspy” students, diversity exists outside of our percentage of minority students. Diversity is defined as having variety. UMW’s diversity should not be defined by only our minority rate, but rather the idea that of 4,000 students, we have over 125 clubs and organizations. We have fostered an accepting environment that allows for students to be a part of student government, knitting, juggling, Quidditch, athletics, improv comedy and community service, just to name a few.

Our school spirit exists similarly in our diversity. Although we are not a school that goes around singing a fight song, we are generally a group of students looking to leave a footprint on society. Why does the writer imply that school spirit can exist only at athletic games? To paraphrase my roommate during Mr. UMW, “You can see the school spirit of students in how we hooted and hollered at our fellow classmates as they made complete fools of themselves up on stage all in the name of fun.”

I can only see this writer’s attempt to discredit an organization that she is a part of as either a ploy to have an article to write or a way in demonstrating her lack of pride in her university. In either case, this writer chose the wrong university to attend.

Shannon Reily is a senior.


  1. Julie

    Did you even read her article? It said in the article that she didn’t frame school spirit only by sports. Also- if someone asks you how diverse a school is, no matter what your answer is, you know what they are asking is how many minorities you have on campus. No body is asking how many student clubs you have. I know diversity has a wider meaning than that, but asked in that context, thats what people are asking. You are just being difficult by ignoring that.

  2. Ali K

    everything Valerie said in her article was so true. If you don’t think it was you are lying to yourself, or you have no sense of humor, because it was funny. So lay off.

  3. K

    Did you read the full article? She said that “Our identifier is a community that gives back on a national and international level…” then she goes on to say, “Was this answer pertinent to her question? No, not really… If you want to hear students chanting… you need to go go go and find find find another school.” Very witty, but she alludes to the fact that she does not believe that we have any school spirt of any kind, when she describes the squirrel population as more spirited. Yes, again so funny, but where lies the real critique in this?

    Comments like, “This school is about as waspy as they come,” is not only racist, but extremely exclusionary to any students not of the majority that do attend our school currently. Not only have I never felt unsafe on campus, but I do not think that any jokes about getting attacked and limping off of campus is humorous in any sense. This school and student body deserve more respect than that.

    No one has ever made someone say that the University of Mary Washington is Disneyland of college experiences. It just so happens that some people do enjoy their experience here and attempt to share that with prospective students. Get involved at Mary Washington before you accuse the school only on false pretenses and a failure to engage with the community.

  4. Student 2013

    I think I can safety assume that the only people commenting on this article have been friends of both the writer above and the writer of the original article. Who else would be on the Bullet website within minutes of an article being posted online unless said writer of the original piece asked her friends to defend her.

    As a student of this school, I can view both points but you mention sense of humor…Um…there was no humor in her article, she might have made a joke but her piece was not based on a satire but as a viewpoint. So she was right to write about her view and I respect that, just like I respect Reilys choice to voice her concern and view on it.

    So the first two comments show a very immature response and Valarie needs to tell her friends yes its okay to defend her article, but they don’t need to call in her character. I feel that Valarie puts herself in a position of judgement by being a writer for The Bullet and think it’s inappropriate that she is using this as a way to defend herself. If you want to defend yourself, write your own comment back or a rebuttal for next time. Back to my point, Reily is a student, not a journalist like you. But what do I know? I’m just a waspy kid who choose to go to UMW where the boy to girl ratio is ridiculous, but thats another problem itself.

  5. Ali K

    Ummm, do you go to this school? If you do then you should know that we are pretty white as a population. Its not offensive, its just accurate. according to princeton review statistics we are 77% white….. thats over two thirds of the school. Safe to say we are kinda waspy. As to the disneyland comment, as a tour guide you are selling something, so you can’t say things like – there is a girl suing the university in a multi million dollar lawsuit because she was sexually assaulted in the parking deck in 2008 (true) or that students from umw harassed the editor of the bullet last year at her home when she published the article naming all the kids in the drug arrest story (also true) or that there have been repeated sittings of persons with guns on and around campus, and we have been given orders to shelter in place a few times (true) its nobody’s fault, but this isn’t a gated community and so stuff happens. SHe also says that our strength as a university is community engagement and giving back- that is our identifier, that is how we show our school spirit, and I totally agree with that. When it comes to sports, we aren’t spirited, and the squirrels are feisty. It’s funny, and its spot on.

  6. Activist Student

    I just want to say that we used Valerie’s article at a Board of Visitors and quoted her saying that the kind of school spirit she describes, (giving back to the community, outreach) is the kind the BOV should be supporting instead of trying to get us excited about the sports programs. Not that sports programs are bad, we have a great athletic dept here, but that is not how UMW shines, some schools like VT are all about athletics and students get excited about them, but at UMW we aren’t about that, and I think thats awesome! The BOV should stop worrying about us being excited about sports and celebrate the uniqueness that is the UMW community, what makes us different from other schools, and stop trying to turn us into a regular state school. I think Valerie was spot on, you just need to read past the humor, which is just that, humor.

  7. Joe D

    Does anyone remember that great pep rally we had in the anderson center a few weeks back to promote school spirit? Yeah, no. I think 50 people were there, maybe. School spirit here is kinda a joke, jus sayin.

    Also- a flame war over a viewpoints article? really? REALLY?