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There’s an overwhelmingly negative connotation associated with college Greek life, which fairly arises from the too frequently heard about news articles of hazing gone wrong. Although the behavior concomitant with such tragedies are inexcusable, it isn’t the defining factor of Greek life. The Greek system still exists nationally and I believe the reason it continues thriving lies in the fact that there are endless (literally! The alumni networks are as massive as whales!) positive influences it can have on a member’s life.

I can personally attest to these benefits – connecting to a new support group, feeling more connected to campus, and expanding study groups – and that’s why my involvement in Harvard Greek life progressively dives deeper. This semester, I’ve been transitioning into my new role of Panhellenic Council Vice President of Philanthropy! Although I hate admitting that I have a natural tendency to snap at good news, I love the new opportunities my role avails to me – like participating in Relay for Life, an incredibly inspiring and national event to support those fighting cancer.

Three male fraternities and three female sororities exist at Harvard (although not officially acknowledged due to the institution’s rule against recognizing single gender groups): Alpha Epsilon Pi, Sigma Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Delta Gamma, respectively. Over the course of these last few months, representatives from each group met with me to organize fundraising events for the annual Harvard Relay for Life. Each year the Harvard Greek Team raises thousands of dollars for the amazing cause through personal appeals as well as creative ways, some of them exemplified below:

Pie Cancer in the Face: AEPi (Alpha Epsilon Pi) held an event where people could purchase a pie to throw in a brother’s face. Who needs dignity when cancer is looming as a threat? Haha, the boys definitely took pies in the face like the manliest men I’ve ever seen and raised over $300 in the span of four hours! Bonus points for the pun too!!

Date Auction: The Cambridge Queen’s Head (a restaurant/pub) located in the basement of Annenberg (the freshman cafeteria commonly referenced to as the Great Hall from Harry Potter) graciously donated their stage to the Harvard Greek community to hold a date auction for two hours. Twenty generous and studly fraternity brothers of Harvard volunteered themselves to be auctioned. Girls across campus (even some graduate students!) came to bid for a magical hour with these men, 100% of proceeds going directly for Relay for Life. The “Date Contract” read that the men had to be at their utmost gentlemanly behavior…but we’ll just see how my two dates go before we get excited. Yes, I did buy two. Hey now, it was for charity!!

BBQ: HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) has some of the best programs!! Check out the stellar grade HUDS (and Harvard in general) got! On weekdays from 11am-2pm, HUDS serves prepared sandwiches, hot entrees, fruit, etc. in the Cambridge Queen’s head for upperclassmen too lazy/too busy (usually the latter in our defense!) to return to their upperclassmen House (dorm) for lunch – this is colloquially termed “Fly-By.” You can also request a brown bag to be prepared from your own dining hall when you know you won’t have time in between lectures, sections, and meetings for lunch! Another way HUDS ensures students stay nourished is by providing cookout food. The philanthropy chairs of each fraternity and I wanted to hold a BBQ before and during the Relay for Life event so we gathered students’ ID numbers and submitted them into HUDS who then provided us hamburger patties, hotdogs, condiments, buns, fruit, chips, and basically everything else we could ever dream of asking for. The BBQ was a hit and people even donated money in exchange for some BBQ! Sorry for not having any pictures 🙁 I was too busy grilling … or at least supervising the grill! 🙂

Overall, the events leading up to Relay and Relay for Life itself was successful! I had a blast working behind the scenes in my first Spring Philanthropy event and can’t wait for the one in the fall, which I’m hoping to organize with Cradles to Crayons. I can only hope that my last round of midterms (yes, I did have a midterm on the last day of class), presentations, papers, and final exams go just as well!!!

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If there is one thing that I have learned since the start of this semester, it’s that the second half of the year goes by WAY faster than the first half.  Seriously, it seems like we only just got back, and we’re already in the midst of midterms!

In the frantic craze of everything going on, it was really difficult for me to choose a single topic to write on.  As a result, keep an eye out for an increasing number of posts!  I just have too much to say!

But by far one of the biggest things to happen to me this semester has been joining a sorority.  That’s right, I rushed.

Now, I don’t know what your preconceived notions of Greek life might be.  I can assure you that when I chose to come to Harvard, going Greek was the farthest thing from my mind.  I didn’t even know Harvard had Greek life.

As second semester approached, however, the idea of rushing started to grow on me.  Harvard has three sororities on campus (with rumors of a fourth coming next fall):  Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Delta Gamma.

Rush here for sororities is pretty low-key, especially compared to other schools.  If you choose to take part in the weeklong process, you are required to visit all three sororities in a series of rounds.  The first two rounds are mostly meet-and-greet, where you talk to a number of sisters and try to gauge whether or not you would fit in with their sorority.  After the second round, you rank the three sororities and hope you get invited back to one, two, or three.  The third round is a bit more formal in the sense that with fewer girls, the atmosphere becomes a bit more serious.  After this round, you rate the three sororities again, and get invited back to a maximum of two.  This final round, Preference Round, is where each sorority talks about why being in a sorority on campus is so great, and I’ll be honest, this was a big part of what convinced me to join.

While it may seem corny or trite, being in a sorority has given me an awesome network of girls who I can rely on for advice, homework help, event updates, and just a quick hello as I walk to class.

Here is a picture of our Kappa Alpha Theta pledge class this year!

On Reveal Night, when my friends and I all gathered in the Science Center waiting anxiously to open our envelopes and find out which sorority we were in, I felt like a sense of community unlike anything else I had experienced at Harvard.  And when I opened my card and heard the cheers of “I am a T, I am a T-H, I am a T-H-E-T-A” calling outside, and I got to run through the tunnel of excited Thetas, I knew that I would rank it as one of my coolest moments in college.

So that’s one of the things I’ve been up to.  What do you guys think about Greek life?  Would you ever consider going Greek in college?

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