Eckert: Greek life in the world

Greek Life has a major role on Case Western Reserve University’s campus, as well as on many other campuses across the country and world. In the last year, there have been several deaths from hazing at fraternities which have garnered national attention. The most recent of these include events at Pennsylvania State University, Louisiana State University and Florida State University. A potential new member, or pledge, died of hazing at each of these schools in the last year.

This looks bad for Greek Life everywhere, and makes it increasingly difficult to defend the Greek system. However, Greek Life is rarely recognized in this same national spotlight for all of the positive effects Greek chapters have on their respective campuses and communities. All Greek students have to complete a community service requirement at CWRU, and many students go above and beyond the requirement. Most Greek organizations also support a certain charity or cause with a major event each year.

Specifically on CWRU’s campus, we have Sigma Chi’s Derby Days which raised over $8,000 to purchase winter hats for patients at the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center. Sigma Psi is putting on their Mr. CWRU event on Nov. 17 which will raise money for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Alpha Chi Omega organizes events to raise awareness about domestic violence. These include promoting and celebrating healthy relationships on campus and raising money for the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center. These are just a few of the examples of the great things Greek Life is doing on our campus.

In addition to these fundraisers and informational events, some chapters have switched focus to direct community outreach. Phi Delta Theta recently switched from a philanthropy focus after discovering some of their donations were covering administrative costs instead of helping the causes the charities supported.

In light of these discoveries, the chapter got in contact with the ALS Association, who set them up with a local patient who wanted to have some work done in her backyard. The patient’s mobility was limited but she still wanted to be active outside. Brothers spent an entire summer building a mobility walkway around her backyard and the patient has since regained mobility. The brothers still visit this patient from time to time and her activity level is higher than ever.

There are also several professional fraternities on campus that are devoted to the development of their members in the business world. These include Alpha Kappa Psi, the business fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon, the medical fraternity, and Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity. APO is working with another chapter, Sigma Sigma Sigma, this weekend through a service mixer to help make donated toys more accessible to local children with disabilities through Reply for Kids. These groups focus on professional development and service through networking and leadership opportunities, having a positive impact on the campus community.

Greek Life has countless positive effects on our campus and the local community. There are still negative aspects of Greek Life, but it’s not as overwhelmingly bad as the national spotlight presents it.

The best way to keep these stories out of circulation is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Greek Life needs to promote the values that are present in all chapters, like brotherhood, community and service, and holding each and every chapter accountable for actions that don’t represent the entire community to prevent other chapters, or all of Greek Life, from being shut down.

Brian Eckert is a third-year student studying English. He is on the club rugby team, but also enjoys writing poetry.