Washington and Lee University Top Questions

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

puh

Alcohol to the point of vomiting or further, multiple nights a week, week after week after week.

Jesse

The amount of school spirit here is pathetic. People often to not bother to attend the home football games, and when they do, the generally wear a dress and heels rather than their school colors. Then, they leave at half time. It's true, the social life is almost solely based around the Greek system, which costs thousands of dollars a year to join. If you are not willing or able to shell out that kind of money, your social life will be limited. Sure, the administration makes sure that the Campus Activities Board offers game nights or whatever for those who choose not to rush, but the people who attend these are few and far between. As for the dating scene, there isn't one. There's nothing to do on weekends if you don't enjoy the pungent smell of alcohol and sweaty frat boys. If you don't drink or enjoy watching other people act like complete morons while drunk, you will get bored really fast. If you're a middle class kid who likes sports and actually remembering your friends the night after a party, don't go here. I made a huge mistake.

Jarrett

Greek Life is huge here. Period. Most students here go greek and the majority of the social life revolves around fraternitiy and sorority functions. The town and the school don't offer students much to do after 7:00 pm, so options are limited for students who don't go greek. There are "traditional" fraternity and sororiteis on this campus in addition to a few historically black fraternities and sororities. However, it is difficult for black greeks to maintain membership on this campus with such a small number of minorities. Most of their chapters are shared with other nearby colleges. In addition to Greek Life there are a bunch of great clubs and orginzations to get involved in. Whether you're intrested in politics, law, investment, the environment, human rights or whatever there is an organization on this campus that can feed your interests. There are tons of opporunites to lead and make important decisions, and usually funding for clubs that don't exist with enough interest.

Rebecca

Athletics are pretty popular on campus. And I'll admit that the party scene is very popular, but that doesn't mean drinking is the only thing to do. There a lots of different types of parties for whatever scene you like, and there is no pressure to drink. If you don't want to go out, there are movies every night and always some activity or another going on. I'll just say, I've never been bored in my four years.

Kristin

Greek life is quite a large part of W&L culture. Upwards of 80% of students choose to go Greek. It is an open Greek system, so no matter what Greek organization you join (or if you don't join), you are always welcome at any social event. As for dorm life, it's a really trusting community. Everyone leaves their doors open or unlocked. You also meet a lot of your original friends in the dorm: you get to know the people on your hall very well and hang out with them very often. There's always tons of stuff going on at W&L. There's always a commons movie playing; there's lots of great sporting events; we have great speakers. Clarence Thomas came to speak to us last year, as well as Bill Nye the Science Guy...and many great scholars, of course.

Erika

The one thing I'd change about W&L is gender relations. While I am supporter of the greek system, it is arguably the reason for the unacceptable relations. Since greek members primarily eat and interact with those in their respective houses, the primary interaction between genders takes place at parties, where everyone is drunk. No need to explain the bad decisions that ensue...

Shelby

The campus social scene really does revolve around Greek Life, but while many social events revolve around greek organizations, they are open to everyone, regardless of greek affiliation. Mixers are required to open to the public two hours after beginning, so virtually anyone can go to any party. Being independent does not restrict you from participating in any campus social activity. The social life does not only include fraternity parties though, there are movies playing in the commons every night and comedians and bands are brought to campus very often. There is ALWAYS something to do. Furthermore, students at W&L are open-minded. If you're not into drinking, no problem. If you prefer sitting in your room playing online poker all night, people will accept that. No student will ever feel pressure to do something outside his or her comfort zone in a social setting. Everyone respects each other's choices and everyone has a great time.

Ryan

Greek life is big here (over 70% of students are involved), so if you are thinking of applying to W&L, come with an open mind. Parties are fun, but you certainly don't have to drink to have a good time. Fancy Dress Ball, an event like prom, occurs every year. Lexington is a great place to live for four years too; it was actually just voted one of the coolest small towns in America. When the weather is nice, check out the local drive-in movie theater, tube down the Maury River, or visit Panther Falls for a swim.

Lauren

Students are very involved on campus and busy with class but it does not effect the social scene. The fraternities and soroities throw awesome parties and being greek is an important part of the social scene. however, you can have fun without being greek and it is easy to have friends in other houses. The weekends and wednesday night are big party days and are worth finishing your work early for.

Jordan

the amount of alcohol consumed is truly breath-taking.

Austin

The students at W&L like to be involved. The outing club is the most popular club on campus. Through the outing club, a student can borrow any equipment necessary to adventure into the beautiful area surrounding Lexington and it is common for students to go camping with a group of friends. The dorms are always open, as are the classrooms. The library is a popular place on campus, almost as popular as the gym. Students are in great shape and take pride in thier appearance. Weekends are the most fun at W&L because generally Saturday is spent with friends attending sporting events, driving on road trips or just relaxing. Most students study all day on Sunday but with our workload that is necessary. The parties are awesome, with such a small student body most students go to the same set of parties and its nice to see everyone together. Most social activities happen off campus, but in Lexington its a maximum of 15 minutes to drive anywhere. The social life at W&L is the best part. You learn as much from talking to fellow students as you do in the classroom and its great to be able to build lasting relationships that could potentially lead to jobs after school.

Stephanie

80 percent Greek--if you're not, you'll have problems making friends and having an active social life. No one dates--they "hook up." Don't expect for a guy to take you out to dinner and a movie--ever. Studying and partying take up 100 percent of student life.

Alex

It's true that the Greeks system is one of the most present social influences on this campus. But it's different from Greek systems at other schools, because to me it seems much more all inclusive. Because so many people are in a sorority or fraternity, it ceases to be such a defining factor, and just becomes another way to meet new people, have a support network, get involved in activities and philanthropy and hear about social events. The school also does a great job bringing performers and events to the campus.

Emily

Greek life plays a key role on campus since a majority of students are involved, and since W&L is in the middle of nowhere, there isn't a lot to do. Sports don't play a large role since we're a small D3 school, but you'll see a large student turnout if a team is doing well and going onto NCAA tournament competition.

Alex

Life revolves around the greek system. There are alternatives, and we welcome independents, but if you hate greek life think carefully before coming here.

Sarah

Taking a visual survey, I would guess that Mock-Convention is the most popular event on campus. There are so many ways to get involved that it is ridiculous not to. Essentially, right before the actual convention, we host a mock- presidential convention for the out of house party. Although there is planning involved in each of the four years (as in real life), it all culminates in the last 6 months. We kick it off in the beginning of the year by getting students to sign up in different state delegations; some go with their home state... some don't. Later in the year, there is a huge dance, "Mock-Con Gala," complete with cocktail parties, floor length dresses, tuxes, and a live band. It all ends with the convention which is opened by a parade with floats from each delegation. The convention is essentially a day of speakers, but is still so much fun.

Bobby

Student activities abound at W&L- there are over 100 student-run organizations on campus, which is a HUGE number for a school of this size. And social life is one of the key components of student life at W&L; there is always something going on or something to do.

Elizabeth

Outing Club is by far the most popular club on campus and for good reason. Lexington sits right on the Appalachian trail and is cut through by the Maury River. Guest speakers are very well attended, as are all of the student theater performances. Tickets are usually very cheap too. Fancy Dress in March is by far the best function of the year. Fraternities and Sororities are very important on campus. Although because so many students are "Greek," being Greek is not something that defines you, simply because almost everyone is. There is literally a sorority and fraternity for EVERY type of person, regardless of whether you are a nerd or a srat star.

Kelly

Students here can find organizations to join that relate to any interest you can think of. And, on the off chance that there isn't an organization for your interest, it's really easy to start a new one. Most students here do join a Greek organization, but it's not an exclusive process. We don't rush until January, so there's plenty of time to decide if the system is right for you. Also, most students who want to do well here don't party more than one or two nights a week.

Alex

W&L is a tremendously friendly and outgoing school. It has over 100 clubs and organizations, meaning that students here are never at a loss for something to do. If you are like me, you’ll find yourself wishing you had more time in the day to do everything.

Torry

There are many things to do on any given night at W&L, including of course, the inevitable fraternity party. You can also go to a concert, watch free movies in the Commons, go to one of the many organizations’ meetings… That being said, just like all other college campuses, W&L students enjoy social life, especially in the form of parties, but we know it’s not just about the parties. It is completely acceptable to go out on a Saturday night, stay sober, and still go home and do some work if you need to get it done. Other students understand, most of them have been there too. To get by at W&L, you do need to have a good work and social life balance. Social life here does matter, but it doesn’t have to be at parties. There are other ways to get socially involved in other activities on campus or in classes. One of the main keys is that W&L students are, the majority, very social, and it doesn’t just have to be at parties, but it definitely can be.

Ryan

Former president Bill Clinton calls the W&L Mock Convention after they pick Hillary Clinton as their winner.

Jen

Greek life is a MAJOR part of social life and somewhere around 85-90% of students are in a fraternity or sorority. Most will live in the house for their sophomore year since 2 years of on-campus living is required. W&L is a pretty big party school. You could find something to do any night of the week. We work hard and we play hard. There are numerous on-campus (or fraternity) parties but off campus parties are very popular as well. Parties are popular. Bars are not, unless you're 21. W&L is a very safe environment where we are all on the Honor System and promise to not lie, cheat, or steal. Students rarely lock their doors. Athletics are not that popular. Being a small school, usually half the people you know are athletes, but football games are going to be a shock to you if you're used to huge SEC games like I was. People usually wear their dresses and sun bonnets and leave at half-time.

Claire

After freshman year, students move out of the dorms and the sexes are separated, with men living in their fraternity houses and women in sorority houses and on-campus apartments. Students rarely have the opportunity to spend time with members of the opposite sex outside of parties and class. Traditional dating happens but is not common.

Allie

Over 80% of the students are in a fraternity or sorority, but students also enjoy volunteering and the outdoors. Students strive to have a perfectly balanced resume, so any activity that will look good on a resume is usually done. Due to the amount of activities most students are involved in, there is rarely a minute wasted during the day. This creates a "work hard, party hard" mentality that most students fall into shortly after arrival. Since W&L is full of tradition, the students go all out during the big events. The sporting events are not well attended, but any annual frat party is packed. Mock Convention and Fancy Dress Ball are the two most important and formal parties, and are accompanied by cocktail parties and returning alumni.

Harper

there are so many clubs and groups that most people are involved in a few in some respect. doors are left unlocked and laptops and books are scattered about campus by their owners for hours. there always seems to be some campus activity, lecture, game, theater event etc. i met my closest friends from all different places: a poker night, watching tv in the commons, clubs, and on my dorm hall. i have met most people in the dining hall, where very few people will bite you for sitting next to them, and you will learn more about what is going on around campus. you will learn about the long list of school traditions pretty fast. parties are common, but no one should chastize you for not going at this work hard/play hard school. about 3/4ths of the school is greek, but ive never regreted staying independant because that has become its own network of friends.

Karen

Students leave their dorm rooms open all of the time. It is a very safe campus. The Greek system is huge, though the administration is cracking down on the fraternities and they seem to be dying off one by one. For the next 10 years, at least, however, the Greek system will be a huge part of campus life. When I was a freshman in 2004, nearly the entire student body went to parties, and every fraternity had at least one party a weekend. This has changed. There are fewer large fraternity parties and more people drinking in small groups.

Sarah

I never lock my door. When I do by accident, it is a cause for panic, since I never have my key on me. Partying is huge. Almost to an unhealthy extent. Guest speakers are great; I have heard John Grisham, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and uncountable other fascinating speakers. If you aren't a drinker, Saturday night could be a bit dull. There are always free movies in the commons though-most of which are excellent.

John

The social life on the University side revolves around fraternities. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, and the fraternities are no more or less accepting than any other part of the student body. They also throw some great parties. There is a heavy drinking culture, but that is a reality of modern college life these days. I think the social scene may be tougher fro women, who I think feel that they have to go along with the sort of sexual objectification, misogyny, and other male centered aspects of greek culture. On the other hand, some women may prefer a "traditional" Southern social life. On a Saturday night, if you don't drink, you can watch a movie, maybe catch a show at the Lime Kiln theater, or go to bed. On the law school side, social life revolves around house parties, since there are no social law fraternities. The law and undergrad sides rarely mix.

Tripp

a lot of off-campus fraternity sponsored parties. alcohol and drugs flow freely. few people date; alcohol-propelled "hook-ups" rule relationships between sexes.

Mel

Fraternities and sororities dominate the social scene, but its for the best. I'll save you time from checking out the princeton review rankings-- W&L has something like 90% greek life but its social scene has recently moved away from the fraternity houses to the "country"-- your average off campus house 5 minutes away. Something to note is that the university owns the greek scene and therefore incorporates its buildings into the school's strategic plan. I've heard every sorority(5)/fraternity(14) house cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million each. Irregardless, theres truthfully a place in the greek system for just about everyone to find their niche.

Kendall

Social life at Washington and Lee is very lively. Like I have said, the students here know how to party and they do it quite often. There is almost never a night when you cannot find someone having a party. Unfortunately, the social life is predominantly greek-based which makes it difficult for non-greek students to maintain a lively social life unless they are friends with members of these organizations. Thus, the interaction between greek students and non-greek students are currently being worked upon with organizations on campus that try to bring these groups together to socialize in a neutral and comfortable atmosphere. Some traditions that happen each year are our huge Fancy Dress Ball which is open to everyone and is a great opportunity to get dolled up in your best look. It is kind of like a college prom and it is great to go to with your boyfriend/girlfriend or just a group of friends. It is more than 100 years old and is still going strong. Also, there are things to do that do not involve drinking and partying such as movies and Roanoke is nearby, which offers you a chance to do some shopping and even see a movie.

Mel

There are too many clubs to name, and each has a good purpose that ultimately helps the community, the school, or the students. Athletes are everywhere, but sometimes you can't tell when they aren't at practice or a game. W&L athletes play because they love the game. Being a D-3 school sports aren't that popular, but lacrosse and soccer seem to get pretty popular. Football games are mainly a social event, and most don't stay for the whole game. The school provides many extra activities such as well-known speakers and movies that have not reached the stores. The IFC and Panhel also bring in speakers; all are well-received. The Greek system is more the just a party scene: it's where you meet your best friends, and gives you a chance to be more involved. All Greek affiliations are involved with community service and play a big role in improving the school itself. But it is a source for social events, as well. If you want to go out, there will probably be a party on any given night. The biggest nights are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. Some of the more popular parties are the weekend events like Homecoming, Christmas Weekend, Fraternity Formals, Fancy Dress, and most recently, Mock Con. Mixers are also frequent, and sororities have formals, too. More than 80% of the student body is involved in the Greek system. It's not so much being able to say you are in a certain fraternity or sorority, but it's more of just being involved. It is harder for boys to not be in a frat than girls, because fraternities throw most of the parties. Yes, the social life tends to revolve around the Greeks, but it is not a negative aspect. You have your friends: it's not that certain people aren't invited, it's that there are different groups that just choose to be apart.

Liz

Greek life is overwhelmingly popular, with something like 85% of the students on campus belonging to a Greek organization. This means that the Greek scene is different from a lot of other places: all parties are open (no guest lists whatsoever and no cover charges), the Intra-Fraternity and Panhellenic Councils have a strong hand in student government, and frat parties are almost always more popular than Student Activities Board events (who have brought groups such as The Roots, Busta Rhymes, and 3-6 Mafia to campus). Good luck if you are planning a student showcase, poetry reading, play, or concert on a Friday or Saturday night--you simply won't have high attendance. But W&L is what you make it, and if you are looking for other activities, they are there: join the Outing Club or the call the Lenfest Center box office. As another result of this frat party preeminence, dating is practically non-existent. Students tend to casually, i.e. drunkenly, "hook up," a term which seems to cover everything from a mild dance-floor make-out to wild sex. But should your hook up status last long enough, you might end up having to DTR (determine the relationship)...and like me, end up with a boyfriend of two years.

John

Frats and srats are very important. The honor code is very effective. People party probably about 4 or 5 times a week. Off campus, there is one bar, but most drinking involve frats or srats.

Lexi

The Greek System is by far the most popular, largest student organization on campus. Over 80% of the school is Greek. I love my sorority and being involved has given me a chance to develop my leadership skills while helping my community.

Dale

Social Life is completely Greek dominated, if you don't go Greek you barely have any options.

Jordan

GREAT social scene. No matter what day of the week you want to go out, you can find a party and people who will go out with you. However, the Greek system and labels definitely put a strain on which parties certain people feel comfortable at. Also, most people are involved in the Greek system as well as at least two other activities. it's great!

Emily

All doors are unlocked all the time. The alumni organization (Kathekon) is very popular, I think because W&L alums love this place and are fun to be around. Football games are poplar for the first quarter, just to see who's wearing what. No one dates, but hookups are ramped. People only go see the plays if they get extra credit for a class. People party about 3 nights a week, because we have lots of work too. Except for spring term- then its about 5 nights a week. Greek life is HUGE! I dont know more than 10 independents, but apparently all of our parties are open to them.

Emily

FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN!!!!

Nico

Popular groups? Not sure except for fraternities and sororities. Intramurals sports always attracts a big crowd. What groups was I involved with. Let’s see I was a co-founder of PAACE, Pan-Asian American Cultural Exchange, but left after a year. Some of these groups are private get-together who asks the school for money so they can entertain themselves, which really defeats the purpose of the club’s title “Cultural Exchange”. Also, the other co-founders were leading this group in an direction that was exclusively for Asians and their close friends, which I found disagreeable. And finally what ticked me off the most was the president and vice-president of the club seemed to be bickering about whether it should be for Asians or Asian Americans. I suppose this is something that might happen in any newly founded club. I think there is a new leadership within the group that is directing PAACE in a more community orientated direction which is a good thing. The other group I was highly involved with was the boxing club. We made and sold t-shirts through a local t-shirt making company. Got together, exercised, and we hit each other every now and then. When someone got pretty good we’d muster up the courage to spar with the guys at Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Lots of fun. I think the boxing club was one of the most diverse club groups at W&L. We had boys, girls, undergraduates, law students, employees of the school, and people of all regions international and domestic. Despite all this involvement with the boxing club I still had to fulfill the requirement of taking 5 P.E. courses. I’m not sure what the reasoning behind that policy is… I’ve asked the administration before but they either look at me like I don’t know what I’m talking about or they say “tradition”. Yes, students in the dorms leave their rooms unlocked and sometimes open. It’s a very open but inclusive community, as long as you fit in. Athletic events seem very popular. Although I hear that most of the athletic groups in W&L are not that competitive within their respective rankings, except for tennis. I think. But all in all strong support for the athletic events can be seen as these events gives people something to talk about. Guest Speakers at W&L is probably one of the best aspects of W&L. There are some very interesting people that come to give lectures. Some speakers dumb down a topic for most people to understand which helps creates awareness while others talk about various issues that are really interesting, but at time they slyly inject their personal opinions which is inevitable I suppose. I thought that most politically involved speakers are either Republicans or from non-profit organizations. The arts at W&L left a lot be desired, in my opinion, but that is probably I’m comparing it to schools such as Parsons, RSDI, or SACI, so my opinion might be a bit biased on this one. Nevertheless, W&L has recently constructed a new building dedicated to the advancement of the arts and should have a better and improved arts department. Dating? What’s that? I’ve had a very solitary experience at W&L but that probably more due to the lack of enthusiasm on my part. This question should be referred to someone else. I guess I had two close friends since my freshman year. Other friends I’ve had during my freshman year stopped being close friends once we’ve found our niche at W&L. It seems to me that the people you live with become the friends you have. Join a fraternity, or a sorority. The other friends I had are those who I lived with or had shared a common interest. Trying to sleep, the town closes after 7 PM. Buying Stopin hotdogs(it’s a local gas station, and the only place in Lexington VA that is open 247). Studying while wishing I was somewhere else. Traditions and Events. Mock-Con happens once every four years. Apparently it’s a pretty prestigious event. They also have an Annual Prom thing… forgot what it’s called… Join a fraternity or sorority and they have their own annual things that they do. Watching new pledges get harassed. Um… Something with the W&L chapel, Robert E. Lee is buried there along with this horse. Can you tell I wasn’t that involved… People party Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Sunday is normally “do all the work you’ve neglected all week” day. How important are fraternities and sororities? Well, if you briefly look over what I’ve written, you’ll notice fraternities and sororities already mentioned there and how it might affect your life. Based upon that, I would say that joining a fraternity or sorority is a major aspect of life at W&L. What did I do last weekend… seeing how I got this mail after I graduated, I’ve been studying Korean. What can I do on a Saturday night that doesn’t involve drinking… studying? Oh, you mean for fun? I don’t know, watch a movie? W&L is Lexington. The real question is where is off campus? There is very little interaction between the students and the locals. The town is small, one bar has a lot of students from both VMI or W&L while the other bar has a lot of locals. The two groups don’t mix well. The town of Lexington has a few of nice and expensive restaurants but they normally cater to the professors or parents of students which is naturally staffed by the locals. From what I understand most, if not all, of the minimum wage jobs are staffed by the locals. Most of the fraternities are “off-campus” but are under the jurisdiction of W&L property. So again the question is where is off campus? I didn’t have a car so getting out of Lexington took quite an effort sometimes. Shopping for food and supplies was a hassle most of the times.

Catherine

Greek life is huge here-probably bigger than it should be for a school so small. If you're awake 2am on a Tuesday, you're drunk dancing at the frat houses. Or eating Dominos. Alumni weekend, homecoming, and fancy dress are the three MAJOR events on campus. Do not miss them. You can party almost any day of the week if you wanted to. I have never locked my door during the day, there really is no need. Athletics surprisingly is a big deal here and are supported. Maybe not for the entire extent of the game, but sporting events are a social event.

Brian

Parties are great, and there are a decent amount of sober activities on campus as well.

Dan

There's fraternity parties. A lot of them. But fraternity parties usually range from cocktail social affairs to keg stands in the country.... with a nifty bus that takes you to and from. Some of my other independent friends go to the midnight movie.... which is not an alcoholic affair, but parties do not stop at 12 am. Groups also form, eventually.

Lauren

Greek life is social life. I don't know what I'd spend all my time doing if I wasn't in a sorority. Which frat or srat you're in is important...it sort of determines who you hang out with and what you do when you go out.

David

Most people feel as if the social life revolves solely around Greek organizations, which do play a dominant role, but there are many other options for people. Many famous speakers come to campus and there is always something to do for people who don't want to party, but the majority of the students will spend a Friday or Saturday night at a fraternity party.

Anne

Greek organizations are the most prominent on campus. They are responsible for the majority of social and philanthropic events. I am a member of Kathekon, which is a student group that interacts with Alumni and also promotes the speaking tradition at W&L. In the fall we host a cook-out for the freshmen and during the winter we organize SPEAK day. W&L's speaking tradition is an important aspect of our community. The purpose is to promote a tight-knit community in which everyone is friendly and polite. W&L is also a very safe school. Students often leave their dorm rooms open or their computers in the commons, etc. There is a strong honor code here that allows students to trust each other. W&L has something of a reputation for being a party school, but never before have I experienced a more accurate example of "Work Hard, Play Hard."

Ryan

greek life is first and foremost. everyone does it, and if not, no one's really sure who you are or what you do with your time. everyone knows everyone at W&L; it's so small that you're going to know everyone's gossip, and they're going to know yours.

Blake

Fraternities and Sororities definitely control the social scene.

Parker

I only lock my door when I leave for breaks. I study a lot, and go to the library frequently. I almost always go out every Friday and Saturday night, which includes a party of some sort, and drinking is almost always involved. There is a bizarre dating scene; due to the gender relations issues, it's more of a "hook-up" scene, which leads to embarrassing situations and tensions between guys and girls. That said, I've been on a few dates here with a couple different guys, and I had a great time. It all depends on what you're looking for.

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