Commons to Kappa: Different Place, Same Me | St. Lawrence University

Commons to Kappa: Different Place, Same Me

Eavan O'Neill
2020

At the end of my sophomore year, I was at a crossroads. I was living in Commons College, one of the many theme houses here at St. Lawrence. Commons is centered on the concept of a community; living, learning and serving together around a specific theme. The men and women who live in Commons take a class every Sunday evening for an hour and also work to raise money for the Little River School, an underprivileged K-12 school in Canton, N.Y. Due to the limited living space and popularity of Commons College, there is an application process to reside there and participate. I applied during my freshman year compelled by the amazing people and the service component of the house.   

During the first few weeks living in Commons in the fall of my sophomore year, however, I got curious about Greek life at St. Lawrence and made the decision to rush a sorority. I wanted to experience this quintessential part of college and I had heard such good things about the social and civic opportunities of Greek life. My choice to rush while living at Commons was atypical due to the required time commitment and competing priorities of each organization. Going into it, I knew balancing the two of these programs would be difficult, but I was determined that it was possible to do both.  In my journey from Commons to Kappa my loyalties were questioned, my authenticity challenged and, in the end, my vulnerabilities explored and exposed.   

Throughout my sophomore year, I found myself changing the way I acted depending on where I was and with whom I was interacting.  I became a chameleon traversing two worlds and adjusting my persona to meet the needs of each. After weeks of stretching myself and my personality as far as I could go, I cracked. I couldn’t handle the pressures of being a part of two groups of people that required completely different versions of myself. However, it was in this “cracking” moment that I also realized something - the very beauty of being a part of these two groups is the fact that they are different. I began to comprehend how lucky I was to have the opportunity to be surrounded by contrasting types of individuals. People with various opinions, values, beliefs, and thoughts who stretch me every day to ponder outside my own realm of thought.

Through Kappa, I was afforded the opportunity to travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a Leadership Conference. While there, I met girls from different chapters all around the U.S.A. and Canada and had the chance to represent St. Lawrence and the Beta Beta Chapter, while also learning what it means to be a good leader in and out of Greek life. Similarly, Commons had given me the chance to volunteer my time to those in need in Canton, which has in turn allowed me to bond with children in the schools and interact with local community members.

Commons is community by diversity; a group of men and women working together and supporting one another under one common goal and multiple different mindsets. Kappa Kappa Gamma is community by empowerment; the women challenge you to be better than who you are and lift one another up during times of conflict. Within these two groups, community is the common thread, however, you arrive at that common thread in completely different ways in each house. What I have learned through my experiences in each organization is that I would not be the human being I am today if I did not push myself beyond my limits and expose myself to people with whom I never thought I would interact. St. Lawrence is a diverse, unpredictable, beautiful place, and one of the many aspects of SLU I have grown to love the most is the feeling of freedom on campus to be whoever you want to be – no matter where you live.