At Wake Forest University here in Winston-Salem, the school motto is Pro Humanitate – for humanity – so it is not unusual to see students participating in fundraisers for the good of our community and our nation. Many events, like the “Wake ‘n’ Shake” dance marathon, raise money for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund Drive. Last year’s dance-off raised more than $200,000! At “Hit the Bricks for Brian!” teams of students run around the quad trying to accumulate the most laps in a specified period of time, also raising a substantial amount of money for the Piccolo cancer drive (the track team wins every year…go figure). All monies raised are donated to the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. While these are campus-wide events open to all students, if you look closely, many of the folks you see participating will have Greek letters on their shirts. With 11 sororities and 15 fraternities, Wake Forest is approximately 35-50% Greek.
Nationwide, fraternities and sororities have often been in the spotlight for various unpleasant reasons, including allegations of hazing, underage drinking and more. However, I recently spoke with two students in the Greek community at Wake Forest who noted that the philanthropic and academic missions of these groups are often overlooked.
Greeks Doing Good
Lauren Holt, a senior from Tampa, FL, is a member of Kappa Delta sorority. Last year, members of KD raised more than $18,000 in their Shamrock 5K race around the WFU campus. The proceeds were donated to Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA), the official charity of the national organization, the local NC chapter of PCAA and the national KD organization.
The Kappa Delta members also work closely with local Girl Scout troops. Whether it’s pulling a wagonload of cookies around the dorms to help with sales, or doing field day events with the girls as part of their “Confidence Coalition,” there is no doubt that these ladies are making an impact, both locally and nationally.
Ethan Perellis, a junior from Louisville, KY, is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and works to raise money for Feeding America, the chapter’s national philanthropic organization. The Lambda Chi members regularly raise funds at various dinners and events, sometimes in cooperation with other fraternities or sororities.
In fact, according to WFU’s website, the campus Greek organizations, together, raise more than $100,000 each year in the spirit of Pro Humanitate. There are auctions, dinners, races and tournaments of every kind, including golf, volleyball, softball and kickball. These events raise money for a wide variety of charities, including Children’s Miracle Network, Make-A-Wish Foundation, National Childhood Cancer Foundation, Brenner Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s Hospital, just to name a few.
Greeks Making the Grade
Lauren and Ethan both emphatically said that being Greek actually improved their grades. While this initially seems counterintuitive, consider the fact that there is a minimum grade point average required to rush (partake in the Greek recruitment process), and some groups require even higher GPAs to be members.
As Lauren, who majors in health and exercise science, noted, she always has a study partner or someone to go to the library with her. The KDs maintain a tracking system of members’ majors, which allows the more senior girls to help the newer initiates choose classes and consider areas of study. There are also “Smarty Pants” awards given for success in various academic endeavors, like acing a test or getting into graduate school.
Ethan, a biology major, stated that the Scholastic Chairman of his fraternity tracks the schedules and monitors the grades and GPAs of all members. If a Lambda Chi member is struggling academically, tutoring is available, and sometimes members have to forego social activities until their grades come back up. In the competitive academic arena at WFU, Lambda Chi has the highest GPA on campus, and they want to keep it that way!
Take a New Look at Greek Life
So, the next time you hear about a fraternity or sorority in the news, it may be for its philanthropic work or its academic achievements. At many college campuses, these groups have shed the “Animal House” stereotype and are making a difference in the lives of others!
Kappa Delta Shamrock 5K Run
March 20, 2016
Proceeds to Prevent Child Abuse America
Contact Lauren Holt, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information and to register!