Greek Life: Philanthropy


Article by Melissa Pope

It’s crazy to think that 13 years ago today our country was forever changed by an event now simply known as 9/11. It was a day where many heroes came to the rescue, a day where ordinary people stepped up to help a fellow American in need, and a day many will never forget. September 11 reminds us all to do our part in making America a better place. So, in honor of 9/11 and the spirit of alms-giving, I want to share a special word very true and dear to the Greek community: Philanthropy.

Part of going Greek means joining an organization that promotes giving back to the community. Every chapter supports a local and/or national charity, and it looks for new members who support this mission and share the same values and beliefs. When I went through rush, I was told to ask every sorority, “What is your philanthropy?” But, I had absolutely no idea what that word even meant until two days in. In order to save you from this same situation, allow me to explain the meaning of the term in a little more detail. Essentially, philanthropy means to organize or participate in a charitable event. Greek chapters volunteer their efforts and time to all sorts of organizations, including cancer research, literacy for children and adults, animal welfare, human rights, and the list goes on. For example, Alpha Chi Omega, nationwide, supports domestic violence awareness; and on a local scale, my chapter of A Chi O organizes multiple events to raise money for the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV). In the past, we have coordinated 5K runs, Powder Puff and softball tournaments, wish-list drives, and much more. These were fundraising events that other sororities, fraternities, students unaffiliated with Greek life, and the surrounding community could all participate in. Greek philanthropyNow, while these events sound like all fun and games, their purpose means a great deal more. Each event helps raise money and awareness for CARDV women and families suffering from rape and domestic violence, helping to provide them with a safe place to live. In order to fundraise for these events, we sold apparel to advertise our philanthropic events, asked fellow students and friends for supplies and donations, and even came up with some fun ways to get the community involved. One year, we had a dunk tank at our softball tournament (which we called our Diamond Days), and participants could pay to dunk their “favorite AXO.” All proceeds went to CARDV. From my experience, most chapters make these philanthropy events and community service hours required for all members.  Not only are the events fun and exciting, but it also has a meaningful purpose and helps support the chapter’s mission. However, most houses understand that students have busy schedules and attending every event the chapter organizes may not be realistic. It’s possible that members could have work, school, or family-related conflicts they just can’t get out of. Therefore, a member may be granted permission to miss an event if he/she provides a reasonable excuse. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t be required to do your share! Missing your chapter’s philanthropy may mean that you will have to make up community service hours on your own time or will be required to attend another chapter’s philanthropy at a different time. This is a compromise many chapters make in order to ensure every member upholds the organization’s standards.  Plus, it helps to keep you accountable and involved in a great cause! If you are considering joining Greek life, or even if you haven’t thought about it until just now, there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. If you want to get more involved with your community while at college, Greek life might be a good choice for you!

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