On the recent Women’s March in D.C.

Paige Williams

Last Saturday at 4 a.m., two buses departed Washington and Lee taking students to the Women’s March on Washington.

The rally before the march featured a variety of speakers and performers including America Ferrera, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Moore, Alicia Keys, and Madonna. Their messages varied drastically. Some begged President Trump to change his stance on abortion. Some simply expressed their rage. Some encouraged  the women in the crowd to run for office and enact change.

Each woman seemed to have  her own reason for being at the march. There was a wide range of opinion represented from reproductive rights to Black Lives Matter to LGBTQ issues.

Sophomore attendee Julia Udicious said, “I feel strongly that political issues are women’s issues and women’s feelings about these issues should be represented in our government. Trump’s presidency makes me scared for the future of a lot of gender issues I care about, including reproductive rights, the wage gap, and women’s representation in government.”

W&L is no stranger to gender issues.

Our university is deeply rooted in traditions. One such tradition is the prolific greek system in place. However, some might overlook that this male dominant system sets the social calendar for 80 percent of the women on campus. A large portion of that  80 percent of women determine their plans every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday according to fraternity events. .

This is reminiscent of the days when W&L  was an all-boys school and women from nearby universities would commute here on weekends for parties.

One Hollins alumna used to come to W&L on weekends and eventually married a graduate of W&L. When considering the social climate here and now, she said, “as a W&L parent, it seems as though the social scene is still determined by the boys and the fraternities, although there are girls on campus.”

This is a painful observation about  the social scene here although not necessarily worthy of a Women’s March on Red Square.

Social inequality occupies a different realm than issues such as reproductive rights or equal pay. However, it is still important to be cognizant of when a line is crossed. One such line could be the offensive emails some fraternities use to advertise their parties. Fortunately, the  university has already taken steps to rein in  these emails.

there are, however, several players in this perpetuated social trend. Sororities have rules against throwing parties and having alcohol in their houses. These rules prevent sororities from actively participating in social planning.

From a greek standpoint, there is certainly a sense of separation between  genders. The university recognized this issue when it built the new Junior Year Village which  unites classes after a sophomore year of firm separation. This separation is subtle, but it  makes fostering friendships between fraternity men and women more difficult.

Although gender relations here at W&L is not an issue on scale with those discussed at  the Women’s March on Washington, it is an issue worth talking about. Perhaps it is time for the women of W&L to step up and assert themselves as equal members of the W&L community.