The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Ask Maddy: What to do about senior year breakups (and violent owls)

“Dear Maddy,

I have noticed a shit-ton of senior guys (frat guys specifically) dumping their girlfriends to be single for senior year, which I feel like really exemplifies the toxic culture here that empowers frat guys to do or use whatever they want until it's no longer useful to them without facing any repercussions. What can we do to take the power back from them, especially when they host all the parties?" 

Dear reader,

I think that this sounds just a tad specific, so I’m going to attempt to give you a tiered response using a wider perspective that I think could help more readers. The last question seemed particularly pointed, so it has been cut. If you’d still like me to answer, you have my email.

First, I want to be clear — it is not just the frat guys, and if this is describing a personal event, it is not just you. 

I also think we should be careful about what we describe as “the toxic culture” of the University of Richmond’s fraternities. I agree that dumping your partner during senior year is pretty insulting. Historically, however, what many describe as the “toxic culture” is much deeper and holds a much more sinister meaning than breaking up with partners. And I don’t say this to invalidate poorly timed breakups.

I’d like to start with two probable reasons why students choose senior year to break up. These are not exclusive — they are only themes I’ve picked up on from being a senior with friends in similar situations.

First, graduation day is looming closer than ever before. Depending on the lives you all may want to lead after graduation, it may be that a relationship would not work in your favor. I do believe that if this is the case, it should be communicated before breaking up. Going in different directions after graduation is natural, but it should surely be discussed sooner rather than later. It may be that they never got the chance — or courage — to have that conversation before deciding to break up.

Second, it may be that one partner is just realizing they only saw the relationship as a means to escape loneliness. I think dating and hookup culture at UR makes it seem as if the majority of our classmates are in serious relationships.

They’re not.

We’re in our late teens and early twenties, meaning we have more than enough time to find “the one.” This image, however, of when we are and are not supposed to be in a relationship can be invasive. Unfortunately, some people will get into relationships only because they feel they’re supposed to, and I would imagine it would lead to the breakup season you’re describing.

As I said, these two themes are not applicable to every relationship going through turmoil. I don’t think, however, that people are initiating break-ups simply because they want to be single for their last year. It’s most likely a deeper issue, they just don’t have the means to communicate that.

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Now, the tension with fraternities hosting “all the parties” is completely valid. My first year at UR, it seemed like fraternity lodges and house parties were the only places to throw down.

I’m grateful to say that I was completely wrong. 

I live in a University Forest Apartment, and every single weekend since I’ve moved in this year, I can hear the parties loud and clear — in multiple UFA blocks and Gateway Apartment buildings simultaneously. If you are an upperclassman, I can assure you that you know of someone who probably knows of someone having a party on any given weekend. There’s also no harm in hosting one yourself.

I would also invite you to explore off-campus options. Aside from bars and clubs within the city of Richmond, we are a couple of minutes away from Virginia Commonwealth University — and they know how to get rowdy.

Moreover, I’d invite you to look at party alternatives. I enjoy parties just as much as the next person, but there are so many other amazing options both on- and off-campus. SpiderBoard and SpiderNights are only a few of the outstanding student organizations hosting successful programming nearly every week. 

In sum, you’re underestimating your own power. If this is a fellow senior, I suggest you hone that. You’d be surprised how far it will take you, both in your relationships and your social life.

I hope this was helpful (if a bit long-winded).

Warmly,

Maddy

P.S. I think I’ll do bonus questions each week since you all have a LOT of questions — which I appreciate!

“Dear Maddy,

WHAT DO I DO IF MY ACADEMIC ADVISER HATES ME?”

I’m sensing some urgency here, so I won’t lecture. If you’re really at odds with your academic adviser, you can email the Academic Advising Resource Center or visit them in Suite 02 of the Boatwright Admin wing.

“Dear Maddy,

HOW DO WE PROTECT OURSELVES FROM THE OWL?”

According to junior Andrew Cardounel, The Collegian’s sports co-editor, “Dress like an owl’s predator, duh.”

Stay safe you all!

Maddy

Contact copy chief Madyson Fitzgerald at madyson.fitzgerald@richmond.edu.

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