Vivian Gil

Vivian Gil has written 5 posts for The Digital Bullpen

Smoking outdoors only

A USF student lights one up in the gazebo infamously known as the “cancer hut.”

USF sorority hopefuls rush to register Greek

USF sororities have been seeing an increase in membership over the past five years, and some believe it is linked to a change in recruitment methods.                              

In 2008, sororities switched their recruitment dates, or Rush Week, from before the start of the semester to during it, making it easier for women to join.

Before the switch, students needed to find accommodations off-campus for the week when school did not convene. For those who did not live in the Tampa Bay area, travel arrangements were also a problem.

“I had some family close by I had to stay with because I couldn’t afford a hotel,” said Kappa Delta alumna Jessica Russo. “You couldn’t move in because your lease hasn’t started, and it was just an overall pain.”

Although some women may have found these additional recruitment hurdles taxing, the change provided students more opportunities to participate in the recruitment process.

Today, membership is up by 10.2 percent since that change was made three years ago. According to the USF Panhellenic Association 2011 Formal Recruitment Report, 515 women registered for recruitment last year. In 2007, only 243 registered.

Sororities agree that the move was for the best.

This semester, sororities increased recruitment efforts by setting up areas in front of Cooper Hall at the Tampa Campus to hand out booklets outlining the tenants of each sorority.

They answered questions and persuaded women to register by directing them to open laptops for quick and easy registration. They also held an exhibition in the Marshall Student Center to showcase each sorority and its involvement on-campus.

Junior Meghan Krstyen joined this year because she noticed the involvement of other sorority girls on campus.

“I was finding it difficult to find a place to get involved,” Krstyen said. “I figured that by going through recruitment, I would be faced with ample opportunities to jump head first into involvement at USF.”

Panhellenic President Erin Potter explained that membership also increased after eliminating quotas for juniors and seniors, since said students were further along in their college careers.

“Freshmen and sophomores were valued more because they can take on more roles and develop more throughout their time in their sororities,” Potter said. “Now that the quota is only set for lower-classman, this evens the playing field.”

Physical appearances place heavy burden on sororities

Whether it is at a chapter meeting or a social or formal, women in “Greek Life” must constantly promote their brand: their sorority.

The expectation for women in sororities can take a toll on their self-esteem. The pressure to impress their peers can have a negative impact on their body image.

“Some girls will walk into this thinking there is a certain way you’re supposed to look,” said Panhellenic President Erin Potter. “They feel the pressure to reinforce the sorority stereotype.”

A sorority member who asked to remain nameless said she feels pressured to have the “sorority look.”

“You have to own Sperry Top-Sider shoes, Ralph Lauren and you have to be skinny,” said the member.

She believes that you must look good and be skinny unless you want to have a stigma attached to you.

“There is a sorority known for having bigger girls. If we don’t watch our weight everyone is going to refer to us as the fat sorority, too,” she said.

The sorority member chose to remain anonymous to avoid repricussions for publicly criticizing her sorority.

Those stereotypes along with the media, advertisers, friends and even family can make anyone feel insecure, uncomfortable and unhappy with their body.

According to psychologist Jill A. Langer at the USF Counseling Center, body dissatisfaction is not exclusive to sorrority members. It also affects many college students in general.

“58 percent of college women are trying to lose weight even though 57 percent of them are already in their normal weight range,” said Langer.

When weight becomes the issue and focus people become at risk for psychological problems such as depression and anxiety and can also lead to eating disorders.

USF Kappa Delta alumni and current grad student Jessica Russo started a non-profit project called Eating to Live, Not the Alternative after dealing with an eating disorder herself. Russo’s medical conditions throughout college got her used to the idea of not eating.

“The doctor’s wouldn’t allow me to eat for several moments at a time; it trained me to not eat,” said Russo.

“There’s a lot of pressure in an organization built around women,” said Russo. “Women begin to compare each other.”

Through more education and a better understanding, students can develop a healthy and positive self-image.

“It’s important to put the emphasis on who you are versus how you look,” said Russo.

Her last purge was over six months ago. She deems herself an open book hoping that speaking about her experience will help women gain a positive body image.

But Melissa Hagerman, a sister of Delta Delta Delta, doesn’t feel body image is an issue within Greek life. “I think girls are just proud to wear their letters,” said Hagerman. “You want to look presentable when you’re representing your sorority.”

Hagerman believes that sororities will love members no matter what their physical appearances.

Rwandan genocide survivors advocate forgiveness to USF students

Two survivors of the 1994 Rwanda genocide advocated forgiveness and spoke about their country’s efforts to move ahead on Friday at the University of South Florida Faculty Office Building.

The students, Allen Kazarwa and Noella Abijuru, came to campus through the Akilah Institute for Women. AIW is a college in Kigali, Rwanda that helps students develop careers in that nation. It was founded by Tampa native Elizabeth Dearborn Davis.

“Since I started this school, I know I have something to contribute society,” said Kazarwa. The institute helps educate young women rebuild the country and empowers them to move forward.

“The 1994 Rwandan genocide, Hutus versus the Tutsis, killed millions of people and stemmed from the belief that if they don’t come from here they have no business trying to help us develop our society.” Professor Edward Kissi said of the two tribes whose hostilities led to the genocide. “Let’s send them back to where they came from.”

Today, Rwanda is still living with the effects of the genocide but is focusing on progress. Moving forward and forgiving is what the elders of Rwanda are trying to teach the first generation of survivors. “They called us together to try and move on, to know how we are the same and to let us forgive but never forget,” said Kazarwa.

The two students believe the country has developed the mindset of forgiving those who participated in the genocide. By forgiving, Rwanda is promoting unity, same blood and same language to reach their visions of developing the country. “Do not compare your present to you past or it will destroy your future,” said Abijuru. It is an old Rwandan proverb that the country has chosen to apply to their process of forgiving and moving on.

Abijuru, who didn’t know whether her father was dead or alive, met her father’s killer in the Gacaca courts, which translates to “grass sitting” and was a place to tell the truth. “I met him in the Gacaca courts,” said Abijuru. “He stood up and asked for forgiveness.” She forgave him and was able to find her father and bury him.

Collette Glover-Hannah, a former faculty member of USF, serves on the local board for AIW. Glover-Hannah said it just made sense to bring the young women to speak at USF.

“These young women have gone beyond the instinct of anger and fear and made the conscious decision of reconciliation and forgiveness,” said Glover-Hannah. “It’s something we could all learn from.”

SkyPad opens for USF gamers, giving them a home that is not the fourth-floor lobby

SkyPad, a new lounge and video game room for students, is now open in the Marshall Student Center.

Joe Synovec, director of the Marshall Student Center, led the launch of SkyPad last week with a speech welcoming students.

“It’s great to know we met the students’ needs not only for study space but also for play space,” said Synovec.

SkyPad was developed as a solution to keep gamers from congregating in front of the fourth floor elevators.

“We needed this space for two groups; the group of students who needed a place to lounge around and do homework and the gamers,” said Synovec. The gamers are a group of students who would religiously haul their 40-inch flat-screens and their game consoles and play outside the fourth floor elevators. They were so devoted that Synovec decided something needed to be done for them.

Since the Marshall Student Center had a surplus of money from the funding to build the building, Synovec decided to close two meeting rooms and give the gamers what they wanted. Last year, he called a meeting with several gaming clubs around campus, such as Video Game Club USF, and asked them what they needed for a gaming area.

“They told us they didn’t want us out in the lobby of the elevator anymore and asked us what we wanted,” said senior and vice president of the Video Game Club USF, Alex Santa Maria. The heads of these clubs met with architects and were a part of the design process. They requested no game console, just a game area with every basic connector so they could provide their own.

SkyPad features five LCD gaming pods to play their consuls on and three sound cones for optimal sound. The “space,” as it became known due to its futuristic design, includes double Wi-Fi capability to allow more students to tap into the Internet at any given time.

Junior Patricia Hughson couldn’t wait to move out of the area in front of the elevator and into SkyPad. “I’m a commuter student so it helps that offers a microwave, vending machine, comfy couches and plenty of electrical outfits I can play on,” said Hughson. “I don’t need to go home and come back later for class.”

The SkyPad gives students new kind of playground that will allow them to connect better to the Marshall Student Center. “It’s more than I would ever expect a public university to do for its students,” said Santa Maria.

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