Philanthropy

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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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