Giving to others thrives through fraternity and sorority life

The characters depicted in the movies at a frat house toga party provide a humorous, yet fictional, Hollywood view of Greek life. What those depictions fail to capture is the commitment that fraternity and sorority organizations make to serve others while developing leaders and role models.
   

Alpha Kappa Alpha was established at Virginia Tech in 1974. Today’s chapter has an ongoing relationship with the Blacksburg Special Olympics. Alpha Kappa Alpha was established at Virginia Tech in 1974. Today’s chapter has an ongoing relationship with the Blacksburg Special Olympics.

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Virginia Tech, a department within the Division of Student Affairs, offers students who choose to join a Greek organization one of the most meaningful and rewarding aspects of belonging to that community — the opportunity to personify the university motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Each year members of Virginia Tech’s Greek letter organizations perform thousands of community service hours working with local animal shelters, tutoring at local elementary schools, collecting donations, and contributing personal time to such national causes as Special Olympics, Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital, American Heart Association, Jimmy V. Foundation, and American Cancer Society. Some chapters also host local events for blood donation, bone marrow testing, clothing and canned food collections, and other forums to educate the community about larger global issues.

   

Members of Alpha Chi Omega spent an afternoon assisting a local community member with yardwork during The Big Event in 2009. Members of Alpha Chi Omega spent an afternoon assisting a local community member with yardwork during The Big Event in 2009.

In 2008, the Virginia Tech fraternity and sorority community raised and donated more than $87,000 and completed more than 60,000 hours of community service toward various philanthropies.

“Even though my sorority sisters and I spend a lot of our time helping others, there’s also a sense of compassion and self-worth that we gain from giving back and making a difference within the community.” said Krystyne Hayes, a junior from Front Royal, Va., majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and a member of Alpha Chi Omega. “Giving back to others has become such a personal experience for many of us.”

Carlos Perez, a member of the Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Inc. agreed with Hayes. “Without question, giving back to the community is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences anyone can encounter,” said Perez, a senior majoring in business information technology in the Pamplin College of Business from Richmond, Va. “Community service and philanthropy can be time-consuming, but it’s also gratifying and fun. To be able to selflessly help others is an experience everyone should enjoy.”

   

The men of Pi Lambda Phi show their support for March of Dimes. The men of Pi Lambda Phi show their support for March of Dimes.

Adam D. Cantley, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life, said that service and philanthropy are at the heart of the mission of every Greek letter organization at Virginia Tech.

There are four Greek councils at Virginia Tech including Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, United Council of Fraternities and Sororities, and Panhellenic Council. The Interfraternity Council offers male students the experience of working together to raise money and help others. The Panhellenic Council offers female students the opportunity to volunteer while helping them to prepare for larger leadership roles within their sorority. 

The National Pan-Hellenic Council is comprised of historically black Greek letter organizations and provides opportunities for leadership for all students. The United Council of Fraternities and Sororities is comprised of faith, service, and cultural-based Greek letter organizations, and also offers opportunities for service within those areas.

Greek Week is another opportunity for the Virginia Tech Greek community to raise money and show their support for a good cause — American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. In early 2009 the Greek community raised $7,000 for Relay for Life.

   

Representatives from each of Virginia Tech's Greek letter organizations gather on the steps of Burruss Hall for the start of 2009 Greek Week. Representatives from each of Virginia Tech's Greek letter organizations gather on the steps of Burruss Hall for the start of 2009 Greek Week.

“Greek Week was re-established at Virginia Tech in April as a way of promoting the positive aspects of Virginia Tech’s Greek organizations to the rest of the campus community,” said Lauren Harris, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life. “It also helped to create a stronger sense of unity and spirit among the Greek community.”

Harris and Cantley agree that Virginia Tech fraternity and sorority members are some of the most involved students throughout the community and campus.

  • For more information on this topic, e-mail Katie Gehrt, or call (540) 231-8068.

Did you know?

  • 48 percent of all U.S. presidents belonged to a Greek organization.
  • 42 percent of all U.S. senators were Greek members.
  • Greek communities are located on 800 campuses in the United States and Canada.
  • Throughout the United States there are 9 million Greek members.

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