Given the College’s reputation for stress, Greek life provides a healthy outlet

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October 21, 2013

10:56 PM

On the College of William and Mary’s campus, over 1,600 men and women belong to Greek life. Composed of 30 different chapters, Greek life accounts for a significant percentage of the campus population, and it only continues to grow. The numbers for this year’s formal Panhellenic sorority recruitment registration were the highest ever.  Incoming freshmen are increasingly enthusiastic about joining the Greek community and having a social outlet during their four years at the College. Despite Greek life’s growing popularity, it tends to hold a bad reputation among the nonaffiliated portion of our campus. Members of Greek life attempt to include non-Greek members in various social activities, such as philanthropic events on campus. Students need more social outlets to get away from the books and develop the necessary social skills for adulthood. With such a strong showing at the College, why do some students view Greek life participation with a negative outlook?

Every member of the Tribe can agree that the academic workload for students at the College is intense and expectations are high. We attend an extremely competitive academic institution, one famous for its “Swem Stampedes.” Shouldn’t we, as a student body, be trying to find some sort of an outlet on the weekends away from academia’s demands?  Earl Gregg Swem Library closes at 8 p.m. for a reason Friday and Saturday nights — for students to get away from the books and socialize. AMP-sponsored events like “Screen on the Green” once in a blue moon just aren’t enough for a student to properly relax and obtain solid social skills.

As a member of the Greek community, I generally feel like those who are not involved with Greek life tend to look down upon members of sororities and fraternities. In my freshman dorm, I was one of three girls on a hall of 28 who went Greek; clearly, our hall as a whole had no interest in sorority recruitment. The three of us pledging sororities would constantly overhear our hall mates sitting in the lounge mocking how “pointless” and “shallow” sorority life is, but most importantly how we were merely “paying for friends.” The irony of the entire situation was that by sophomore year, roughly 15 of those 25 girls who used to sit in the lounge and put down Greek life participated in formal sorority recruitment; those girls are now 15 of the 1,600 plus members of William and Mary Greek life.

Why the initial negative outlook? Being a member of William and Mary Greek life is much more than the occasional food tab at the delis. You are a member of a separate community on campus, one with philanthropic, scholastic and social goals. Greek life here allows students to find a balance in college, which will be helpful for balancing life later in adulthood. This balance from being a member of a sorority is an undoubted release from being a TWAMP, a title that everyone can use a break from every now and then.

Email Brianna Coviello at bmcoviello@email.wm.edu.

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  • Brianna Coviello

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