Names for Unnecessary Things: Tiering and Microcosms
Written by The Flat Hat|
February 10, 2011
With the noughties (‘00s) behind us, what happens to William and Mary and its pious followers? Let us travel across campus, criss-crossing that fire hydrant that marks the Rolfe Road circle and the auspices of the Ludwell Apartment Complex to the recently spotlighted Cohen Careers Centre and, further to the acoustics of the Tyler gardens and the temporarily condemned Tucker Hall. This weekly/biweekly will feature some overly authoritative and some elucidating features of the emerging culture here at the College, in particular in relation to Greek Life. Moreover, how that fifth conduct their affairs.
To talk about such a thing demands its own nomenclature, a topic that I will probably dedicate my textual geography to. Since readership is always varied, I must sympathise with the majority four-fifths of the campus.
I shall begin with the idea of tiers and tier-ing. Evidently, the definition of these terms connotes some hierarchy and patriarchy. I select this topic because this shapes the prelude to social circles over four years. We now have twenty chartered fraternities, eleven chartered sororities, multiple societies that function in a displaced capacity and, of course, the Senior class and Freshman residences. And enter the first question on everyone’s mind when these organisations are competing for time: how do they fare?
The assertion at hand is that there is no hierarchy. In fact, each organisation has their premier ideal as well as those that are not so. It plays into the diversity of William and Mary itself, we are selected by a process that has, at present, brought us together under a humbling roof, where each facet of us has competition in some regard. Each person’s academic phenotype is drastically varied, between daily Swemmers, daily Daily Grinders, daily savants and so on. In some regard, organisations at the College need to be redubbed the more fitting term, communities.
There is one conversation I hold close to my intellect when it comes to organisations, especially fraternities. One evening, far removed from the present, an acquaintance and I were talking about Twin Shadow’s new album at the Scotland Street Green Leafe, when he began to speak at length about his fraternity experience. He did not strike me as someone who would fit into the popular culture construction of Greek Life, but his words that night slayed that monster quite completely.
As an adolescent, my unnamed acquaintance studied at a large University down South, he pledged to a chapter of ΧΦ, a fraternity that has a version here also. He explained how ‘a fraternity should be a microcosm of the real world’, that in order to run any successful organization you need to have the polarity of different views as well as the people in between. An organization of completely unified carbon-copies fails because there is no inherent pathos.
In these words, the recruiting mantra of these Chi-Phis resembled the unspoken mutation of organisations here: we don’t recruit or enter based on a type but rather on an idea. Iterations of the idea within each of us structures each organisation, it gives a distinctive flavour to the International Relations Club, to Lips Magazine and to the fraternity of Delta Chi.
So, my idea is rather that there are laterally bounded communities that overlap and cross-pollinate in ideas. The rhetoric in future will establish how there is this flux, why there is a very steady rate of deactivation in organisations (formal and informal), how there is a burden cycle and an active to passive oscillation within each of these.