A meeting took place a few weeks ago among representatives of the Westhampton College Government Association, the Panhellenic Executive Association and Alison Bartel Keller, director of student activities. The topic of discussion was the new regulations that were put in place this year regarding current women of Greek life requesting or accepting Facebook friend requests from first-year or sophomore women who plan to join a sorority in January.
The intention was for this rule to prevent "dirty rushing," which occurs when sorority women recruit first-year students before recruitment week.
Caraline Mikkelsen, WCGA senior class president, said they had approached the meeting with all Westhampton women in mind. "Panhellenic was responsive and open to modifying the social media rule in the future," she said.
A current first-year student who wished to remain anonymous because she will be rushing in January said, "I find the Facebook rule a little silly, in that I do not see myself 'cyber-stalking' upperclassmen to know the ins and outs of each sorority and their members."
A sophomore in Delta Delta Delta sorority said for her, the issue "wasn't so much centered on not being able to be Facebook friends with someone, but more so on the sense of exclusivity that comes with not allowing someone to be Facebook friends with members of sororities, or vice versa."
A sophomore in Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, who also asked to remain anonymous, said she had heard mostly negative feedback about this new rule. "Some say it makes Greek life come off as more exclusive, and increases the divide between Greeks and non-Greeks," adding that it could prevent positive relationships across class years and make communication for clubs, teams and classes more difficult or awkward.
Lela Puckett is a sophomore in the Pi Beta Phi sorority. She is on the club tennis team and was also an orientation adviser to the freshmen this August. "Personally, it puts me in an odd position as I have gotten to know some of the girls on the tennis team and in my orientation group but I cannot be Facebook friends with them," she said.
Puckett said when she was a freshman, she had really enjoyed getting to know the upperclassmen because they helped her find her place and settle into the University of Richmond community.
"I know that Richmond is trying to make progress in terms of fostering a more inclusive environment on campus by changing the tailgates and introducing a new sorority next year," the woman in Delta Delta Delta said. "However, I think that this rule is prohibiting that atmosphere to develop."
"I acknowledge that Panhellenic had the best intentions when implementing the social media rule," Mikkelsen said. "I personally do not support the rule because it is difficult to monitor and it puts more emphasis on Greek divisions, as opposed to unifying the Westhampton community."
Neither Bartel Keller nor any member of the Panhellenic Executive Council would comment on the matter, but some said they felt that the topic of their new social media guideline was no longer relevant because it was introduced to the Greek community weeks ago.
Contact reporter Mary Rossiter at firstname.lastname@example.org