By MARIAH YOUNG
Students, alumni, community members and members of the university administration crowded into Lee Hall room 411 to speak about the possibility of Greek life coming to the University of Mary Washington Fredericksburg Campus.
On November 19, senior Alyssa Smallridge hosted a non-university sponsored town hall, moderated by Professor of Communication Jessy Ohl.
While there were clear comments concerning the negative aspects about Greek life being institutionally recognized on campus, there were also people in support of Greek life and some in favor of the way UMW currently functions.
Currently, there are two nationally recognized fraternities, Kappa Sigma Rho Chi Chapter and Psi Upsilon Phi Delta Chapter, that exist, but the university does not recognize them.
Multiple issues were discussed during the town hall, including that many students choose to attend UMW specifically because of the lack of Greek Life.
“I chose UMW for a unique and different experience, unlike so many schools across the country,” said senior Ciara Peacock.
Other students expressed support for Peacock’s statement.
“The lack of Greek life made me feel the most happy and the most safe here. UMW is the only public school in Virginia without Greek life,” student Julia Michaels said.
Most students supported the idea that the university is a unique environment, but members in the audience believed the university was denying fraternities the right to assemble on campus for meetings and gatherings.
Christian Hughes, member of Psi Upsilon argued, “Fraternities want to be considered part of student life but instead are denied rights given to student organizations.”
Hughes and other speakers spoke of the instance this fall when Psi Upsilon was not allowed to have a table at the fall Club Carnival, an event for first year students to gather information about all the clubs on UMW’s campus.
One of the largest issues about having Greek life at UMW was discussed by the President of Feminist United on Campus, Paige McKinsey.
“Rape culture in fraternities is not a stereotype, it is a fact,” said McKinsey. “This is sexism, this is classism, this is discrimination, and we do not want it here.”
Other students discussed their problems with Greek life not lying in the culture, but rather the economic and institutional issues of Greek life.
Students questioned where the “resources” would come from, how students that couldn’t afford dues would pay, and where Greek housing would be if it ultimately came to the university.
Those in support of Greek life discussed the benefits of Greek life, including the need to be around “like-minded” people; the privilege that other recognized clubs get.
“My fraternity has helped me to see all sides of UMW and learn to really love my school,” said Zach Young. “Your fellow students are being prevented from fully participating in their school community. I understand that there are concerns, but it should not negate that fact that it prohibits other students from exercising freedoms.”
Some students believe that the University should give Greek life a test trial, and let the university students implement Greek life in a “unique” and “Mary Washington” way.
As of now, the status of Greek life is in the hands of administration, according to Martin Wilder, clerk of the UMW Board of Visitors. “”If it were to come to the BOV it would be through the administration. There’s nothing currently before the board.”
Many members of administration thought the event was a very good example of university members coming together to respectively discuss important issues.
“I thought it was a great example of the energy, the thoughtfulness of UMW students, “ said Wilder. “The points that were raised were excellent points on all sides. A lot of issues were brought up.”
In addition, Vice President of Student Affairs Doug Searcy thought that the conversation was meaningful.
“I look forward to commenting in the future,” said Searcy. “Tonight I would like to let the student voice stand as the only voice and congratulate our students on a meaningful discussion.”