First-year students were catapulted into their new life at Sarah Lawrence by participating in orientation week. Throughout orientation week, students participated in a variety of activities, experienced their first college parties in Hill House, and bonded on the North Lawn. Students were given the illusion that Sarah Lawrence was a tight community—a gimmick that did not last long.
The Sarah Lawrence Activities Council—SLAC, for short—is supposed to organize events to build a sense of school spirit. But as the days passed, SLAC’s involvement faded, parties cooled down. Now, the North Lawn lays empty, covered with snow.
Many first-years have expressed worries about the lack of campus events and the waning sense of community. “There are plenty of people who attend SLC who are warm, welcoming, and foster a sense of community in smaller group settings,” said Faith Smith ’17. “Then there are large chunks of people who are open and welcoming without judgment; however, I do think there are times where individuals feel a lack of community in the larger scheme of things. Sarah Lawrence would benefit from having all-campus events. Getting the masses excited for a big occasion raises morale and gets people talking to one another.”
Students complained about SLAC organizing the same events every week: a dance at the Blue Room on a Friday or Saturday night, Open Mic Night on Thursdays, and a film screening on Wednesday and Saturday nights. There are occasionally different events such as karaoke, Casino Night, and the Christmas tree lighting, but those events do not get much attention. “There are a fair amount of activities on campus thanks to SLAC, but not that many people attend the events. This may be because of a lack of interest,” says Vanessa Massel ’17.
In traditional American universities, athletics and Greek life play big roles in creating a strong community. Sarah Lawrence is proud of their “unique and quirky” outlook and has few athletic teams and no history of Greek life. However, the school is growing a stronger athletic department since it became an NCAA Division III establishment. The school prides itself in being progressive, but simply stating that something is “not the Sarah Lawrence way” is anything but progressive. For athletics to gain popularity and Greek life to become a reality at Sarah Lawrence would simply mean that Sarah Lawrence is evolving with students’ growing interests.
“Traditional Greek life at SLC would not necessarily work because there is not a large enough body of students. However, a club adaptation of Greek life where students could be a part of a strong group of people that believe in a particular issue and do things together such as community service and putting on school events would be great,” says Isabelle Campbell ’17. “It would not have to be ‘typical Greek life situations,’ such as parties and asshole guys. You run the risk of exclusivity, initiation, and hazing in any group of people, not just Greek life. Also, Greek life was established so that people who have similar interests can be in a group together, learn about life, and how to be a good person.”
With the continued lackluster advertising for events that are still repetitive in nature, and upward turns of the nose at the question of Greek life, Sarah Lawrence is closing itself up to change. The Sarah Lawrence slogan used to be “You are different. So are we.” If this were true, we should not stigmatize Greek life as unhealthy. By refusing to evolve, Sarah Lawrence students are being judgmental of a lifestyle that appeals to many. Not all Sarah Lawrence students are the same, and we cannot categorize all of our students as “different” if we are not willing to cater to the needs of different types.
by Adrianne Ramsey '17
CORRECTION APRIL 10, 2014: This piece was originally published in our Editorial section, and thus was assumed to be an editorial piece expressing the viewpoint of The Phoenix staff. While some members of staff do share many of the opinions expressed in the article, this piece is an op-ed and thus expresses the viewpoint of the author and quoted students. It has since been labeled as such.