December 10, 2013 by Skyler Paltell
Finals– two syllables that strike fear into the hearts of every TWAMP on campus, sending us running straight into the arms of Swem, or to Wawa to grab 24oz coffees. Those two weeks at the end of the semester when the campus shuts down, the College Delly goes quiet, and the Sunken Garden is empty, are some of the hardest and most trying weeks of the semester, but fear not, you’ll make it through finals intact and just in time for Winter Break.
For freshmen: This is your first round of finals at W&M, and you’ll probably want to go all out and partake in all of our crazy traditions, like trying to sleep in the library and pull consecutive all-nighters. Don’t do it. While finals are important, and you’ll want to do well, no grade is worth sacrificing your heath and well-being for. Don’t forget to take study breaks, laugh with friends, peruse Buzzfeed, and eat dinner. Domino’s delivers pizza to Swem, and they also take Flex, so there really isn’t a good reason to forget to eat. And remember, regardless of what your grades may ultimately be—it’s just one class, in one semester, in your first year of college. There will be many more chances to redeem a grade you weren’t happy with, and if you did well, don’t forget to celebrate! Go home, watch Netflix, and enjoy the holidays with your family as you prepare for next semester.
For upperclassmen: We’ll survive this finals period the same way we’ve survived the last two, four, or six. We know the drill by now, we know exactly when the therapy dogs will be on campus and we know to avoid Swem in favor of less crowded study venues. We have perfected the perfect balance of studying and procrastinating, maximizing our Facebook stalking and minimizing our sleep. We’ve been here before, we know finals aren’t fun, but we also know we’ll get through it more or less in one piece.
You can do it, guys. Don’t forget to live, laugh, breathe, and see Taylor Reveley at Yule Log this coming Saturday. Happy finals, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
November 25, 2013 by Richard Murphy
As a deeply nostalgic and sentimental person, I get very tense at the idea of things coming to a close. As seniors, I think we all have this sense of impending doom as that May 11th graduation date draws ever closer, and the number of times we can say “oh I’ll do it next year” has reached ultimate zero. Adding immense pressure to my imminent W&M departure is that the practical purposes of my job as a Senior Interviewer for the admission office are winding down; six more interviews and one more Fall Focus panel and I will close my interviewer notepad for good. At this point, the 13 other interns and I have written hundreds of pages about potential applicants’ academic performance, extra curricular activities and personal qualities. We gave upwards of 2,000 people tours of campus over the summer, drank hundreds of dollars worth of Coronas at Paul’s and College, and lost to the deans of admission in an epic game of kickball. Spending forty hours a week with the other 13 interns all summer made it feel like my senior year started with my internship back in May, and now that it’s concluding, it feels like the end of senior year’s first chapter.
As the weight of senior year becomes more apparent, I remember what my French teacher did for us on our last day of class senior year of high school. He read us the moment from Antoine Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince when the little prince is distraught to leave the fox, his best friend, to travel the world in pursuit of bigger and better things. To soothe him, the fox says that he will forever associate wheat fields with the little prince because of the golden hue of his hair, so at least part of their friendship will live on forever. What are my wheat fields from my Senior Interviewer experience? The Aquafina water bottles that I took every time I gave a tour this summer; the green W&M Athletics bag that stayed taped to our office wall and comprised its décor until mid-July; the countless information packets we stuffed at the front desk as tour groups trickled into the lobby; the blazers that one of the interns wore to professionalize her sundresses, and that awkward day when one of her interviewees was wearing the exact same blazer.
I think every senior will attest to having moments from their college experience they hope they never forget: those Friday nights with your freshman hall, the free water and cheap sandwiches from Wawa, your 21st birthday, LDOC(s), and any other ones unique to yourself. This Friday, when I leave my tiny office in admission for the last time as an interviewer, I’ll stash all those wheat fields away with the best of memories from the last four years. It comforts me to know, however, that the little things from my summer – and college experience overall – will carry special significance throughout the rest of my life.
October 31, 2013 by Katie LeCornu
As stated in my bio, I’m a Texas resident. When I got ready to apply to college, I wasn’t interested in the schools in my state. I figured I would end up at a private school – if I wanted to go to a huge public school I could find plenty in Texas for half the price. But in the end, the small, prestigious, yet public W&M married all the things I was looking for most in a college. It was undeniably the right place for me and being directed to it has been an awesome blessing.
Of course, it’s hard to call W&M a public school with all the opportunities to thrive on campus. It’s been our tagline for decades – “the public Ivy.” I’ve always taken pride that our public school has such a private school feel. However, lately I’ve also been grateful that there are a few significant ways where we are NOT like a private school.
First of all, our diversity policy is not like that of a private school. I have a large group of friends who ended up at a small private college in the Midwest that expels students who are openly gay. The students have started fighting back against this policy – establishing a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus and petitioning the administrators. The fight has gotten pretty nasty because the students have no leverage against the crusty old Board of Trustees with outdated ideologies. The students truly have no voice in the matter. The student government is only a “government” in name, not in practice. At William & Mary, administrators take our concerns to heart, as exemplified in the annual opportunity to submit revisions to the Student Code of Conduct. Also, there are student representatives on the Board of Visitors to voice campus opinion. Administrators, alumni, students and board members alike are dedicated to making this campus a happier place. Activism is a responsibility encouraged for all parties.
This brings me to another aspect of W&M that makes us awesome as a public school, rather than private: free speech codes. I recently attended a forum with a speaker from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). The speaker talked about some college campuses with horrific rules against free speech. Many campuses have a designated area, a free speech zone, and only there are students allowed to pass out pamphlets and flyers for their causes. This area is usually small and in a secluded part of campus. Students who pass out flyers in other parts of campus have disciplinary action taken against them. A ridiculous example occurred a few weeks ago when a student at a college in California was prohibited by school officials from passing out copies of the Constitution on Constitution Day.
I listened to this presentation in disbelief – I couldn’t imagine going to a school that violated such fundamental individual liberties. Nor could I imagine the student body of William & Mary accepting such limitations on free speech. We take for granted being able to walk across Sadler Terrace and listen to various student groups advertise their causes. Free speech on campus, however, should not be considered a privilege, but a right guaranteed by the very men who walked the streets of Williamsburg centuries ago.
After the presentation, I went to the FIRE website. William & Mary has consistently been rated as a school with some the of best free speech codes in the country. This honor of a “green light” has only been given to a dozen other schools. Perhaps it’s because we are public, perhaps it’s because we’ve had 320 years to figure this out, or perhaps it’s because those men who structured our school also structured our country. Whatever it is, we are lucky to go to a school that values diversity, human rights and the pursuit of happiness.
In sum, W&M adopts the characteristics of a private school, but remains public for the sake of the issues that matter. Our school is the ultimate hybrid, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
October 30, 2013 by Claire Gillespie
In my opinion, surprises make Homecoming. You never know just who you’ll run into, which famous alumni will walk around the corner, which upperclassmen will show up again at your club’s reception. Homecoming radiates mystery and that’s why I love it.
I did not expect to meet former Director of the CIA, former Secretary of Defense, and current Chancellor Robert Gates last week, but as it turns out, Chancellor Gates had room in his schedule to meet the staff of the William & Mary Review, the literary magazine Gates worked on as an undergraduate. I sat in a room with Robert Gates for ten minutes and discussed the literary magazine we both work on and walked out thrilled that I articulated my opinion to someone who carries himself so eloquently.
Homecoming surprises heightened when my good friend, who is spending the semester in Washington, DC, knocked on my door. She had come down for Homecoming Weekend and lured me to the W&M vs. JMU football game.
Full disclosure: I did not realize William & Mary had a football team until Orientation ended. Football games, you may say, are not high on my list of priorities.
But I went to the football game and had fun! (For a little while, at least.)
My final surprise Homecoming Weekend came when I discovered the band Freelance Whales was to play at William & Mary’s own Sadler Center. I found out Freelance Whales would perform at William & Mary from a text from my friend from home seconds after William & Mary friends told me about their performance. I have not felt the same vein of pleasant elation since I discovered the party I wandered into circa summer 2003 was my own surprise birthday celebration. It came as no surprise, however, that Freelance Whales’s performance made my night.
Seeing the terrace as full as the first beautiful day in spring surprises me. Hearing alumni talk to students with the earnestness and interest of a young professional talking with his or her first brilliant hire surprises me. Seeing the football stadium filled with green and gold T-shirts (especially my own) surprises me.
But of course these events shouldn’t surprise me, because they abound at William & Mary. William & Mary’s environment brims with the pleasant surprise of winning the lottery through its illustrious teachers, caring students and beauty.
So, happy post-Homecoming. I hope the ways William & Mary surprises you this week make you smile.
October 30, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Unlike a majority of those in Williamsburg this past weekend, I was not reconnecting with William & Mary alumni, watching football…or singing along to the Jackson 5? Instead, my sister and I were walking the darkened streets of Colonial Williamsburg (more affectionately known as “CW”) and scaring ourselves silly at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Homecoming – with all of its social splendor, but I figured that, in a town as creepy as Williamsburg, you really have to take advantage of Halloween-time (yes, Halloween-time) – exploring haunted houses, graveyards and dark alleyways. I’m not exactly Wednesday Addams, but I love Halloween – and I really like being scared!
My sister and I went to Howl-O-Scream, first. I had gone this past September for William & Mary Day, but, let’s be honest, those roller coasters are addicting; and, although the wandering characters can be annoying, they add to the eerie atmosphere. My sister isn’t a fan of too much height, thus we only ventured onto the Loch Ness Monster and Alpengeist, spending a majority of our time on the ground amongst crazy pirates and werewolves with chainsaws. The weirdest thing was that when I was at Howl-O-Scream for William & Mary Day, one of the English “wanderers” chased me all throughout England; this past weekend, he found me again! For some reason, he’s never satisfied with a simple scare – he needs to, literally, chase me out of the park with a bloody knife.
I hope that I’m actually encouraging readers to go to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. I’m just now realizing that my description is a bit dramatic. All in all, it’s always a fun time, and being a Senior, it was nice to experience it one last time.
After Busch Gardens, my sister and I embarked on a “Spooks and Legends” ghost tour – which was voted #1 on Trip Advisor. Considering the rating, and my desire for fear, I was expecting a lot; I’ve been on ghost tours that were devastatingly mundane, and I wanted some spine-chilling tales. I have to say that this tour was incredible! It was the best ghost tour I’ve ever taken and it officially creeped me out. The Peyton Randolph House had, by far, the worst history. Its ghosts trap unsuspecting victims inside, driving them insane with strange sounds and whispers. Also, you wouldn’t believe the stories surrounding all of those “cute” little houses lining DoG street. Don’t let those white fences fool you – there are some scary goings-on behind those walls.
So, no – I wasn’t dancing to the cover band outside the College Delly (which played ALL weekend), but I still took advantage of what William & Mary had to offer: Halloween-time creepiness.
October 28, 2013 by Skyler Paltell
As almost every William & Mary student and alum knows, this weekend marked Homecoming 2013, that long-awaited event each year in which alums old and new flock back to the tree-lined serenity of campus. This year’s Homecoming was a landmark event for two reasons: 1. It marked the first homecoming game the Tribe has won since I have been a student here, and 2. There were no hurricanes, establishing 2013 as the first year I have not evacuated campus in advance of a hurricane. Both are exciting distinctions.
Homecoming this year was especially meaningful to me, as for the first time I was able to see returning alumni that I knew and recognized from previous years. My sorority welcomed back dozens of alumnae with our Homecoming Brunch on Saturday, allowing me the opportunity to reconnect with the sisters who helped make my first year in Greek Life so memorable. I was also able to reconnect with Natalie Applegate, former campus celebrity and my tour guide mentor freshman year.
It’s amazing to me to see how my friends have grown in their respective time away from the College, how their careers have changed them and how they themselves have made such an impact on my own college experience. Homecoming is a reminder that no matter how far life takes you away from William & Mary, there is one weekend each October when it’s still there, waiting for the return of the thousands of faces who came before us, our ancestors who helped to create the grooves in the brick staircases, the carved initials on trees, and whose class years line the Senior Walk on Old Campus. They return as recent graduates, as families, as elderly couples who crossed the Crim Dell Bridge holding hands so many decades ago
I have only one more Homecoming to spend here as a student, but I anticipate many more to come—many more visits to the ‘Burg, at first in solidarity—then perhaps with a spouse in tow, and maybe, many years from now, as the parent of a William & Mary student. One Tribe, One Family—for now, forever—hark upon the gale.
October 1, 2013 by Benming Zhang
“Ambition is a passion, at once strong and insidious, and is very apt to cheat a man out of his happiness and his true respectability of character.”
- Edward Bates
Ambition. There is universal acknowledgement yet so different and in many forms. It is dynamic and personal. Even so, it is part of the American character – the very notion of the American Dream feeds on the capacity to succeed independently and comfortably.
Like the American Dream, there is a Tribe Dream every student feeds on here. The Tribe Dream could be little more than to graduate with a college diploma, or as wide as to make the most impact on the school. Look around, and ask a student for a list of all that he’s involved in. It could be breathtaking by the sheer volume of involvement in a wide array of interests. Of course, the Tribe Dream cannot exist without the opportunities that this institution offers. While “opportunities” usually shed a positive light, ambition can twist and bend them for the worse.
I caught the bad end of ambition. As all dreams are capable of doing, I became disillusioned with my capabilities. At the start of my freshman year, I knew I could call this campus my home. With that, I went ahead and took full advantage of what this campus offered. What began as an ideal situation became my next realistic nightmare. My first mistake was taking 18 credits. I found the commonsense to bring it down to 17 credits (not really “commonsense” at all) along with rowing, two other clubs and fraternity pledging. By mid-semester, I was worn out and grades slipped. I became overwhelmed with my slipping grades, and saw my social life gradually collapse to stress. My morale gave way all throughout finals week, during which I simply gave up on salvaging my grades.
Best practices: What could have been avoided
What I lacked is at the core of all ambitions: organization. At times, I became overwhelmed with the influx of quizzes, projects, problem sets, midterms – you get the picture. You have to find your own way to organize, but my main point is when organizing, allow free time for yourself. There have been days where I rushed endlessly from class to committee meetings, and this self-imposed, harried lifestyle beat the energy out of me before I got around to homework. In addition, ensure that you articulate attainable goals. Instead of writing “Get 4.0 GPA,” note a specific way of reaching it. This works: “Get a 4.0 GPA by following my new study habits, and prioritizing studying for exams a week before.” This captures the ideal into a workable form.
Disorganization begins by lacking priorities. Without priorities, ambition will invade and multiply invincibly into our core as cancer does. An ideal setting would call for equal attention to and for everything. In this world, especially in the Tribe universe, such things are nearly impossible. Prioritizing means putting more time into important matters, and leaving others that can survive for tomorrow. A simple practice is creating a list with As, Bs and Cs. “A”s garner (and demand) the most attention, with the rest declining in order of priority.
When ambition becomes overwhelming, and everything seems to be crumbling, don’t let up. Recollect yourself and plan for change at your next chance. I took Winter Break to reorganize my study habits and prioritize my attainable goals for the spring semester. I made marked improvements, and so can you should you ever fall into a similar situation.
September 11, 2013 by Laura Manzano
- There will be a night, when you are lonely and a freshman, that you walk down the hall and find others like you, so you awkwardly rally together and talk about your favorite movies and SAT scores on the gross furniture in the lounge of your dorm on a humid Saturday night in September, and all of the sudden you forget to care about all the college parties you were so excited to attend. Three years later, approaching graduation, you may find yourself doing the same thing with the same people, but only this time you’re doing it because you want to, and because these awkward freshmen have somehow become your family. Only now there may or may not be alcohol involved.
- Being apart from your parents for the first time in your life will help you see them as real people. They are no longer the superheroes of your childhood, but they fall and they bleed and they may need your help, sometimes. This is not necessarily a change on their part, but a greater realization on yours, and it is not at all a bad thing. You’re becoming an adult, and in observing this new adult world through a more realistic lens, it seems only appropriate to begin with the most idealized aspect of the past eighteen years. Don’t be afraid of it – embracing an individual’s complexities can be the hardest part of relating with another human being. But remember that you are a part of each other. Your mom and dad will be your mom and dad for the rest of your life.
- Someone close to you will disappoint you. It will hurt more than many other things because friendship is stronger and less drastic than romance, and in theory should last until ties have gradually faded, and not because they have been decisively cut. If talking about it or thinking about it months later still makes you mad or sad, reach out to them. In life, just like in literature or in film, no significant character leaves in a dramatic fashion without coming back at some point down the road.
- There will be a moment, or rather, a seemingly perpetual series of moments in which you approach a realization that you don’t, in fact, know what you want to do with the rest of your life. After graduation, the proverbial path is unpaved and on an incline and it may even be hot outside. College will get you there, but you may feel it hasn’t taught you how to walk on it. Do I really want to do math for the rest of my life? Is law school the right choice for me? Here’s something no one will tell you: you’re not supposed to know how the rest of your life should unfold when you’ve barely emerged through a quarter of it. Take a deep breath. And by deep breath, I mean a year off. Give yourself time to live outside of school. Travel, meet people. For a little while, get a job just to have a job, and remember that job is not going to be your career. In college, there may be a moment when you see George Saunders speak to a room full of people just like you, and then one of the greatest and well-decorated contemporary writers will tell you that he originally got his degree in geophysical engineering, and worked for an engineering firm for seven years. Realize that no one is meant to be settled and established and have it all figured out by the time they’re twenty-four, unless they want to be completely bored for the next seventy years.
- You will trip over a brick on this campus. You will hear this everywhere, and that is because the only thing more certain in life than tripping on a brick is that by the end of it, you will be dead. You will trip on a brick not once, not twice, not seven times, but probably somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty-eight or eighty-nine times.
- There will be a lot of moments when you are rejected. By a professor, by a job, by an application, by a girl, by a boy. It’s likely that multiple rejections will happen in a short span of time, and they will make you never want to get out of bed again, even for warm Caf cookies. In these moments, you will undoubtedly feel the opposite of what you should feel, because in reality, the courage that has compelled you to put yourself out there in the first place is greater than many people can claim. College may teach you that everyone needs to be broken down to nothing before they can become something. You are not a great anything until you’ve thought to yourself at some point that you are the worst anything that has ever lived.
- If you’re lucky enough, you’ll experience love, and if it’s real, you’ll be scared to call it that just yet. You may not be anxious or excited. You won’t lose your appetite, because that seems to indicate that to remain in love with someone forever means you will never eat again. That to desire a hamburger means to have fallen out of love. The thought of him or her won’t make your heart race. By that point, if you’ve sat on it long enough, your heart will have adopted him or her as an integral cog in the regular mechanics of your circulatory system. They say that love is selfless. And you’ll have a moment when you realize that part is true. Their happiness will become your happiness – a scientific, economical, reliable correlation. And that feeling, unlike Hallmark love, will be unascribable to any one color, unless that color is black, simply because, of course, black is a combination of all the colors – those both beautiful and less beautiful, but nonetheless necessary to paint an honest world. If you find yourself feeling this way, or even at the very least think you feel this way: congratulations. It requires a brave person to put their own heart in this position, no matter how involuntary it may seem.
- Finally, you’ll visit Washington D.C. for the first time on any given weekend, and fit in as much sight-seeing one could do in about 30 short hours: the magnificence of the Capitol building, the grandeur that is the Lincoln Memorial, but most especially – the beautiful stillness of Arlington Cemetery. The sky will be cloudy and you may be tired. You’ll inexplicably cry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as you watch the guard walk across the horizon with a reverent ferocity. You’ll say a quick prayer for anyone who has ever sacrificed anything for your sake. You’ll smear away the tears that have somehow snuck into your eyes, and turn to pan across the landscape: tens of thousands of tombstones, extending farther than you will be able to see. The names will mean nothing to you and everything to you at the same time, because those unrecognizable names and their sacrifice are the reason you’re able to stand where you’re standing. The most important and essential moment you will have, at any point in your life, is the one in which you understand that you are not in this alone – that we need to be good to each other in order to survive.
August 27, 2013 by Bailey Thomson
In two days, I am flying from Johannesburg, South Africa to Washington D.C. to celebrate my best friend Allison’s wedding in northern Virginia. This is the story of our “soul friendship” and the way that William & Mary inevitably introduces its students to the people they need the most.
Allison and I met in Morton Hall in our Comparative Politics class in spring 2008. Truthfully, we never really met. Allison approached me one afternoon, introduced herself, and revealed that she had orchestrated an interview for me to join her as a teaching fellow for a fall 2009 civic engagement seminar for Sharpe Scholars. (If this isn’t the definition of a nerdy beginning to a William & Mary friendship, I don’t know what is!) A few weeks later, I met with Professor Schwartz, was accepted for the position, and the adventure began. Allison and I were promptly joined at the hip inside and outside the classroom.
Allison has a penchant for intellectual conversation, surprises and relentless compassion. During our time together at the College, Allison and I found ourselves on sand dunes in North Carolina, exploring Rome over spring break, surrounded by friends at surprise birthday parties, celebrating holidays together with our families and eating way too many cupcakes. We talked without end about civic engagement, political theory, existentialism, feeling lonely and finding love. We were nurtured by many of the same professors and challenged each other academically. We were surrounded by friends who taught us to be better friends and family who taught us to love, to have patience and to persist.
After I graduated from the College and Allison finished her year as a Americorps Vista, we both moved to California. I began Teach For America in San Jose as an elementary school teacher, and Allison began her PhD at Stanford. For two years, we were pieces of home to each other though we lived 3,000 miles from our families and our beloved college. I had the pleasure of watching Allison’s relationship with her now-fiance Andy flourish. Andy moved to California to join Allison and proposed last year.
When you meet a soul friend, you know it. I moved to Johannesburg 13 months ago, and Allison is still one of a handful of people who know me best, with whom distance doesn’t matter. And while to William & Mary readers, this might seem normal, know that it’s not. William & Mary is a place where the relationships you cultivate last. As Convocation for the Class of 2017 happens this week, my hope is that these same important and lasting relationships have already begun during Move-in and Orientation. I am grateful that my alma mater is a place where great people meet and build a foundation for a lifetime of friendship.
Go Tribe (and congratulations, Allison!),
August 27, 2013 by Madelyn Smith
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington I thought it appropriate to address the Class of 2017 with a promise on the power of dreams…
I remember fall 2009 when I moved into Spotswood along with 72 other freshman dreamers excited about where the future would lead, somewhat anxious to meet new friends and build a reputation, and curious about what the next four years would bring. As time passed, we grew more comfortable with one another and realized that we would spend the next four years learning and growing alongside of these people and hundreds of others. We learned that our horizons would be broadened with each passing day, that we would be challenged to think in entirely new ways, and that we would define our dreams in the context of this brilliant academic setting.
To the freshmen – now is the time to dream. Now is the time to set your sights on the most ambitious feats that you can imagine and chase them. Tell yourself that you can, and you will. Make connections with professors (they are there for YOU!), pursue your academic pursuits passionately, take time to reflect on the emotions you are feeling now, and don’t ever forget them.
For many of you, this is the first time you have experienced what it feels like to establish a reputation for yourself individual of your parents, family or other associations. You can chose who you want to be – what a beautiful thing! Use this time to try new clubs, push yourself out of your comfort zone to meet new people, and make the most of every activity. You get out of life what you put into it, so I would challenge you to meet every day with a happy heart and a courageous mind and move forward knowing that you are going to ROCK W&M.
You were selected because you are one of the finest students in the country. You are highly capable, brilliant and well-rounded. The Class of 2017 brings one of the most diverse, dynamic and bright classes the College has seen yet. Get to know your classmates. Make a point to build community.
As an alumna of the College, I also want to remind you that by joining the Class of 2017, not only are you joining the 5,000 undergraduates who you will study alongside of for the next four years, but you are also joining a network of thousands of William & Mary alumni who are here to help you. We were all freshmen once and remember what it feels like to travel through this period. We are here to provide help, mentor-ship, advice and whatever we can offer. The incredible thing about W&M is the College community extends well-beyond your four years in Williamsburg.
Welcome to the Tribe, Class of 2017, welcome to the Family.