The Greek society’s philanthropy apathy

Kimberly Krieger

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[audio:https://sundial.csun.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/GreeksVolunteer.mp3|titles=Greeks Volunteer by Kimberly Kreiger]

What does the greek community promote more? Philanthropy or parties? Photo Illustration by Bodhi Severns

Sororities and fraternities represent a prominent group of people at CSUN, and through their philanthropies, they have helped various different charities better the world.

There are so many different Greek organizations to choose from, that it must be a mind-boggling experience to pick only one to rush.

Do prospective Greeks feel a true urge for altruism? Is the drive so maddening, that they can’t help but want to pay dues? When they are choosing the group that will represent them for the next 4-6 years, do they care about what philanthropies these groups support?

I doubt it.

The truth of the matter is that, at the end of the day, these groups are social entities. Though they may do great things for their designated charities, this is just a protocol in order to stay chartered. There is a great lack of motivation.

Zeta Beta Tau, a fraternity on campus, donates to The Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Breast Cancer research. The fraternity holds many events per year, but so far, this year there have only been four dedicated to philanthropies and they said they only plan on holding two more events for their charities before the end of the school year.

If a fraternity is holding countless parties, get-togethers and celebrations each year, why can’t they make more of those into charitable opportunities? If everyone who attended a ZBT party donated one dollar in a jar, I’m sure by the end of the year the fraternity would have tons of money for their philanthropies.

Panhellenic council sorority, Alpha Phi, dedicates their charity time to funding cardiac aid. Through formals such as the Red Dress Ball held in spring, they helped raise $15,000 last year. This is actually a wonderful thing. However, out of the four pillars of their philanthropy, cardiac aid is the only pillar that does not benefit Alpha Phi.

The Forget-Me-Not Foundation is one of the pillars in Alpha Phi’s philanthropy. This is a program that helps Alpha Phi alumni when they are in need. For example, during Hurricane Katrina, Alpha Phi came to the aid of fellow sorority sisters and alums affected by the natural disaster.

This is a great thing to do, but it isolates the good nature of charity. If we only help “our own,” it really isn’t charity after all. It is more like self-preservation. Had Alpha Phi helped everyone affected by Hurricane Katrina, not just their fellow sisters, this pillar of their philanthropy would be taken to an even higher level.

Along with having a pillar that aids alumnus, Alpha Phi also has two pillars that financially help current sisters. The first is a financial aid system that awards college money for sisters in need. The second is a scholarship foundation, where members of Alpha Phi can apply and be considered to win money. This is also fine and dandy, but it does not really seem all too charitable.

Don’t get me wrong, sororities and fraternities are full of wonderful people, and many of them do care about helping others. But there is an unavoidable and undeniable sense of apathy to these philanthropies. Charity should be something people do when they feel passionately committed to a cause, and it definitely should not be something people do just to have fun.

Is there a solution to this seemingly apathetic approach to philanthropy in the Greek system?

These groups could break out of their regular routine of enclosed social interaction. Instead of just rallying to help children in the Children’s Hospital, why not go out and meet some of the children?

Experiencing first-hand what their charities are all about could not only motivate the group to want to do more for the cause, but it would also be a great life experience.

In the end, people who join sororities and fraternities are just like everyone else when it comes to charity and philanthropy. Not many people are initially pulled in by the fact that they could help others, but I’m sure many people in these groups learn to appreciate good deeds. Sororities and fraternities are full of great people, and with some more motivation, they can become even better.