Don't Believe Everything You Hear about Greek Life

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A sorority rides in the Homecoming parade October 1, 2011There are certain words that come to mind when you say "fraternity" or "sorority."

You know them. I know them.

Parties. Wild behavior. Animal House.

However, if you're not aware of this by now, I need to tell you this: you really CAN'T believe all that you see on television and the movies about university students.

Let me suggest some other words, and these are ones that I can absolutely prove to be fact about IUP's Greek organizations:

  • Community service
  • National philanthrophy
  • Networking
  • Study hours
  • Academic standards
  • And this past week, pomps and pickup--garbage pickup, that is

While you were on your way home to dry out after this year's wonderful (albeit wet!) Homecoming parade, after enjoying the amazing floats built by members of IUP's fraternities and sororities, some three hundred fraternity and sorority members were busy VOLUNTEERING to clean up the Indiana Borough streets. Not quite the Homecoming "party" most expect of our Greeks.

Betsy Sarneso, assistant director for Student Life, oversees Greek life on campus. It's a big job--there are about eight hundred students at IUP in one of thirty social sororities or fraternities. She coordinated the cleanup, among many, many other projects and programs.

"Every Greek organization is required to do service or contribute to a philanthropy, local or national, and sometimes they do both," she explained. The Homecoming cleanup is just an extra.

Often, these students get excited about projects and move forward to DO THEM without notifying her office, so we don't always get the word out. I can't really fault them for that--the commitment to a good cause isn't, for them, about getting credit or being in the newspaper. That's kind of a refreshing thing in a world where it's too often about people doing things for the recognition.

For example, we just learned of a project happening today and Wednesday--the annual "Rocking the Grove" fund-raising event, sponsored by the Panhellenic Association. Members of the Greek community will be in rocking chairs in the Oak Grove today from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday. Funds raised go to the Alice Paul House, a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and their children here in Indiana County.

Then, on Friday and Saturday of this week, sororities and fraternities will be doing a food drive at the Fourth Street Bi-Lo for the Indiana County Community Kitchen. This event, done in conjunction with the Office of Service Learning, will involve students from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. both days.

The Community Kitchen, the recent beneficiary of a special fund-raising event sponsored by the Bridge Corps, works to fight hunger in Indiana County. Since its creation in 1994, the Community Kitchen has served more than 150,000 meals. They get no government or state funding--it all comes from donations.

For some fraternities and sororities, this is a "been there, done that" kind of thing, as they've already done food drives for the community. We just don't always hear about it.

In addition to rocking, members of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority are part of a breast cancer awareness event, Bras for a Cause, organized by the Indiana Business and Professional Women's Club. (This project I know about...I was a celebrity bartender last year, complete with pink sweater, scarf, and hair!) The decorated bras are on display in front of Stapleton Library until tomorrow, so come out and vote for your favorite (that's how the project raises money). All proceeds go to Birdie's Closet at Indiana Regional Medical Center, a place for women diagnosed with cancer.

And those are things being done just THIS WEEK by our fraternity and sororities THAT WE KNOW ABOUT. I am certain there are many more things that we'll never hear about, and that will never make the news.

However, the recipients of the funds raised or service offered will know.

Maybe that's all that matters.

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This page contains a single entry by Michelle Fryling published on October 4, 2011 9:07 AM.

Rape-Myth Attitudes Are Still about Gender, IUP Criminologists Find was the previous entry in this blog.

Eating Less in the Presence of Men is the next entry in this blog.

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