By KOTY BOWEN
All students at the University of Mary Washington know of the boulder used for announcements that sits outside of Woodard. “The rock,” is coated in layers and layers of paint. Students paint the rock for many of reasons, whether to announce the annual “Rocky Horror Picture Show” or to advertise a club meeting or event. Recently though, there has been some controversy over the rock and its message.
Greek Life has been a topic of debate at UMW due to their use of the rock. Many people have not seen Greek Life announcements on the rock in the past however, this season of rushing fraternities have begun to use the rock to advertise to many students.
Typically the rock provides a space for advertisements that range from simple gatherings, to in memoriams, special club hostings, and even special days to catch President Paino on campus. It is a billboard along the Campus Walk highway. The issue at hand is that Greek Life is not a recognized part of UMW life. According to Student Activities and Engagement rules of the rock’s use, the rock should not serve as a space for non approved announcements.
Since Greek Life is banned from Club Carnival, an event where all the clubs and student organizations that are recognized by the school gather to obtain new members, they can not use this event to get new members and must resort to different means. However, the rock is ‘operated’ by the Office of Student Activities and Engagement. This office determines what clubs are allowed to use the rock, what they can write on it and what type of events they can host through it.
Traditionally, rushing a fraternity refers to pledges participating in a series of social events that allow them to get to know current members and to see if the organization is right for them. But some students are concerned about these messages of rushing because they wonder if the fraternities should be allowed to advertise such events on the rock when they are not affiliated with UMW. It is not clear if the frats received permission to use the rock as SAE was unable to be reached for comment and could not confirm if they allowed the painting of the rock.
The office of SAE gives certain rules for what can be on the rock. Nothing profane is allowed and all messages must be appropriate to be displayed on campus. When a club makes an announcement on the rock, they are usually assured that their message will stay on the rock for at least 24 hours, and at times it lasts even longer. Some students were surprised when in a very short period of time, an opposing frat painted over the original frat’s message.
“The rock is approved by SAE and is to be left alone for 24 hours… by having them fight over it, it prevents other clubs from using it,” said Joshua Paschal, who is a junior philosophy major.
The argument concerning the recognition of Greek Life on the UMW campus however has been a topic of conversation on campus in recent months, as some students also feel they should not be able to use it at all.
“The rock is for university organizations and the frats are not recognized as one,” said sophomore geography Dylan Burkett. “It just isn’t fair to the clubs who have [gone] through the process of being verified.”
Some students, like junior political science major Robert West, see nothing wrong with them advertising on the rock.
“I see no problem as long as there is nothing inappropriate on there,” said West.
Many students feel that as an informal student organization, Greek Life should be able to advertise to their base like the other groups. Some feel that as students, Greek Life has just as many rights to use the rock it as everyone else, since they are limited in more extreme ways compared to their university recognized counter parts.
The painting of the rock has students wondering, keeping the debate of Greek Life on campus alive. Though it may seem like a small incident, the use of the rock by the frats has sparked debates of the past, bringing back the long standing opinions on the issue. Recently, a petition has begun to spread around campus asking for the formal recognition of Greek Life.