Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cal State Northridge Greeks Take Philanthropy Seriously

Greeks take a cue from Goodwill
Josselle Sison / Staff Reporter

Many members of the CSUN community would be surprised to know that the Greek community takes things such as school work and community service seriously.

“The general perception of Greeks is that all we do is go out and have fun,” said Dale Pinlac, 23-year-old Sociology major and member of Pi Kappa Alpha.

Pi Kappa Alpha, commonly referred to as Pike, does community service for breast cancer awareness on campus. They are also helping organize a golf tournament to raise money for breast cancer research and will be participating in the Breast Cancer Walk in the spring.

With their national philanthropy, YouthAids, Sigma Phi Epsilon does its part to help disband the negative stereotypes usually associated with the Greek system. Each year, they participate in the Aids Walk to raise money for the cause. They also participate in local community service.

Alex Ravenscroft, philanthropy chairman for Sigma Phi Epsilon said many members of the Greek community feel that philanthropy improves the general perception of Greek life. He added that negative associations push away serious members who would be good additions to chapters.

SigEp is currently helping organize the West Hills Fall Fest, a Halloween carnival for children sponsored by the City of Los Angeles.

“It’s the local events that matter the most, even if you’re helping out for just three hours or so it’s the most important thing you can do,” said Ravenscroft.

Sororities do their part to help out in society as well.

Kate Wilson, a 22-year-old liberal studies major and philanthropy chairwoman of Alpha Phi believes philanthropy is really important because it makes someone a well rounded person.

Alpha Phi has its own foundation which sponsors research for cardiac disease. Each year Alpha Phi’s chapter at CSUN holds a Red Dress Ball, a dinner and auction event for family and friends where they raised $16,000 this past semester. Alpha Phi members also organize carwashes and host Frisbee and basketball tournaments to raise money for their foundation.

“It’s important to give back to the community. Many people don’t know what we do because it’s under the radar, but by doing philanthropy we can show everyone that we’re contributing to society,” said Wilson.

Many of the fraternities and sororities at CSUN do philanthropy work that involves children or the physically disabled.

Alpha Xi Delta’s national philanthropy is Choose Children. Every year the chapter at CSUN picks a different children’s organization to donate time and money to. This past year Alpha Xi Delta raised $7,000 from their Xi Champs show, a talent competition between members of the CSUN community. Half of the money went to a music program in Venice and half of it went to Lankershim Elementary School in North Hollywood for the purchase of musical instruments.

Members of Alpha Xi Delta go caroling at the Children’s Hospital during Christmas and work with their alumni to put together toy bears for children at the Valley Trauma Center.

“Having philanthropy be a part of any organization builds a foundation to make giving a way of life,” said Dianna Hodge, 19-year-old child development major and philanthropy chairwoman of AXiD.

Once every three semesters, Sigma Chi puts on a week long fundraiser called Derby Days, a competition between sororities to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. With each day designated its own event such as a concert put on by members of Sigma Chi, a silent auction, and a penny drop, Sigma Chi was able to raise $13,000 for their foundation.

The fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon is participating in a jog-a-thon for Move International, a foundation that gives support to people who are unable to walk. Like Sigma Chi, SAE’s national philanthropy is the Children’s Miracle Network and each month SAE requires its members to participate in a philanthropic event.

“We’ve made it our main focus to give back to the community because its community support that keeps us here, and we are after all a part of the community ourselves,” said Mike McGinnis, 19-year-old deaf studies major and SAE philanthropy chairman.

Pi Kappa Phi has their own philanthropy, Push America, which they have integrated into the way they operate their chapter. Each fall the Pi Kapps host their No Boundaries event where they set up disability simulations so students can see what its like for people with disabilities. Students at CSUN have probably seen them sit on toilets by the library for 72 hours straight to get donations from the CSUN community.

“What started out as a joke in 2003 became a sort of trademark. We get donations from the 6 a.m. students to the 10 p.m. students,” said Adam Vitello, a 20-year-old history major and philanthropy chairman of Pi Kappa Alpha. Members of Pi Kappa Alpha also participate in national programs such as the Journey of Hope, an eight week summer cycling relay that goes from San Francisco to Washington D.C. Participants bike about 85 miles a day and stop along the way to raise awareness for children with disabilities. In conjunction with Push America is Build America, a construction company where Pi Kapps work to build facilities and playgrounds for special needs children.

While many Greek members agree that doing philanthropy does help their reputation, they also agree that they do charity work for themselves.

“I’ve done volunteer work for a long time,” said Vitello. “To see the reaction on people’s faces when you’ve helped them is rewarding in itself.”