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Greek Life makes gains in philanthropy, sees room for expansion

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 17:01

Greek Life

Ethan Chan / The Tufts Daily


Since their founding, Greek Life institutions have made commitments to philanthropy a key part of their philosophy. In more recent years, however, sororities and fraternities have gained reputations across the country for being more focused on social engagements than on philanthropy.

“Sometimes there are misconceptions on what Greek Life does in terms of philanthropy,” Amelia Cohen, a senior and member of the sorority Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII), said. “One of the first things I noticed when I joined AOII was how excited everyone was about philanthropy. Service is a core value, and everyone takes that really seriously. It is something that the whole chapter admires, and [is] very important in the development of [our] lives.”

AOII as a national organization supports charities for arthritis and the Tufts chapter of AOII chose specifically to support the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization.

Another sorority at Tufts, Alpha Phi, donates their philanthropic proceeds to the Alpha Phi Foundation, which supports programs for women that include leadership training, scholarships and research for women’s heart health, according to their website.

“Philanthropy is a huge part of any sorority and a main pillar of what it means to be in Alpha Phi,” sophomore member of Alpha Phi Christina Kuklinski said. “Philanthropy is one thing that stands as common ground between all the sororities and unites us.”

According to Kuklinski, last semester alone Alpha Phi raised over $13,000 for the Alpha Phi Foundation. They sponsored events such as a Saks Fifth Avenue trunk show, in which the store previewed their new clothing line for Tufts students to buy and also hosted a silent auction called Bid Your Heart Out.

Montane Silverman, a sophomore and the previous philanthropy chair for Delta Tau Delta (DTD), told the Daily in an email that DTD raised over $8000 for their participation in the event Light the Night for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).

Light the Night, an annual walk to raise funds for LLS, took place last October at the Boston Common. DTD was joined by the greater Boston community and helped to raise over $1.4 million from the event. 

For this accomplishment, DTD won LLS’s 2013 College Challenge for most money raised for the foundation. The choice to donate to LLS was a personal one for many of the brothers, according to junior Peter Estes, co-philanthropy chair for DTD

“LLS was a natural rallying point for the brotherhood, as we all wanted to support our former chapter President and ... my good friend Matt Roy as he battles leukemia,” said Estes. “The event itself is a powerful moment of solidarity that has quickly become very meaningful to our brotherhood.”

The Tufts Chi Omega chapter concentrates their efforts on the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which was chosen by the national sorority in 2002 as their official philanthropy.

According to Chi Omega president and current Daily Features editor Shannon Vavra, the Chi Omega chapter at Tufts raised nearly $6,000 in 2013 for Make-A-Wish.

Chi Omega initially raised $3,460 from their Dishes for Wishes event in the spring of 2013, according to Vavra. Later, in the fall of 2013, the sorority raised $2,232 through their Wing Fling event, a wing-eating competition where students purchased tickets to participate.

For Wing Fling, Chi Omega used their budget of $1000 and received $300 from the Inter-Greek Council, according to sophomore Maddy Kenler, last semester’s philanthropy co-chair for Chi Omega. Wings over Arlington donated all the wings for the competition, held in Carzo Cage, which alleviated much of the cost and allowed the sorority to maximize the proceeds going to Make-A-Wish.

The Inter-Greek Council, a recognized Tufts Community Union Senate organization, gives each chapter $500 to make philanthropy a larger focus of Tufts Greek Life, according to Cohen.

However, Ece Kocak, last semester’s co-philanthropy chair for Chi Omega, expressed that it is often difficult to compete with the philanthropy work of larger schools in the area, like Boston University and Northeastern University, because of Tufts’ small size.

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