There is no denying that Greek life has recently been getting a bad rep in the media. Chants, emails and Facebook pages filled with racist and misogynistic language have surfaced, giving certain fraternities and Greek life overall a bad name. There is no excuse for these instances, and the people responsible deserve to suffer from the repercussions. But what is unfortunate is that because of specific action taken by certain people, the good and the great things that are done by Greek life are swept under the rug.
Every Greek chapter has a designated philanthropy that they sponsor. Each year, college students raise thousands of dollars to donate to these charities and organizations. How often are these philanthropic efforts reported on in the media? Rarely. How many people do the efforts of Greek philanthropy impact? More than I, or anyone, can count.
On the University of Maryland's campus alone, Greek chapters hold dozens of philanthropy events and fundraisers each semester. They range from afternoon food sales to galas and balls that take months to coordinate.
For example, last semester, the Delta Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi raised $22,790 for Women's Cardiac Care at their Red Dress Gala.
In the fall of 2014, the Iota Omega chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha and Beta Kappa chapter of Kappa Alpha raised a combined total of $50,871 for breast cancer education and awareness at the Breastfest of Champions.
Terp Thon 2015 raised more than $604,000 for the Children's National Health System in D.C. More than 70 percent of that total was raised by members of Greek life.
In March, the Alpha Rho chapter of Kappa Delta raised $4,500 during their KD Cares Week for Prevent Child Abuse America and The Family Tree. Throughout the week, the sisters passed out treats on campus, held a quesadilla dinner at their chapter house and hosted Joy Bauer from the Today Show as she spoke about health-related topics.
After the loss of one of their brothers, the Beta Delta Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon raised $20,000 at their Red Carnation Ball to donate in his honor. The money went to support a scholarship fund, the Prince George's County Hospital Trauma Ward and the Capability Ranch. The event took place earlier this spring.
Every single chapter at UMD holds events like these and raises thousands of dollars for their respective charities. Across the country, Greek chapters at universities, large and small, are doing the same thing. Even more important is the fact that members from all chapters come together to support these events.
The point is, Greek life does some amazing things. And the amazing things that they do most often impact the lives of people they've never met. By no means am I arguing that Greek life is perfect. But honestly, no one is. I also don't mean to argue that philanthropy makes the flaws of Greek life go away. What I mean to say is that it's unfortunate the efforts made by Greeks to support philanthropic organizations are often overlooked. So many people devote their time and energy to these projects, only to have their hard work and reputations compromised by a select few.
Philanthropy is one of the reasons many people choose to join Greek life. As members of these organizations, it is on us to ensure that charity and selflessness continue to be the most important cornerstones of all Greek fraternities and sororities.