Feb. 21, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 10

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    Greek organizations raise funds to aid the blind, abused children

    By Carrie Golus
    News Office

    Tonight in Mandel Hall, nine male undergraduates will go head to head in an attempt to win the title of “Mr. University.” The second annual Mr. University pageant, sponsored by sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, is a fund-raiser for the group’s designated charity, Court Appointed Special Advocates. Last year, the event raised $3,500 from ticket and raffle sales.

    The Mr. University competitions include swimsuit, eveningwear, question and answer, University trivia and, of course, talent. Several of the contestants will demonstrate “legitimate talents,” such as playing the piano or violin or reading an original poem, said fourth-year Megan Driscoll, one of the event organizers. Meanwhile, one contestant plans to lip-sync and another will show a short film he made about Chicago.

    The Mr. University pageant is one of many charity events sponsored by sororities and fraternities at the University. While the social functions of “Greek organizations” (as they are known collectively) are well-known, their service and fund-raising activities often receive less attention.

    Each member of Kappa Alpha Theta, for example, is required to complete two service events each quarter, while women’s sorority Delta Gamma requires five hours a quarter. “People don’t know much about our philanthropy,” said Driscoll. “You wouldn’t necessarily hear about it unless you’re inside the organization.”

    At Delta Gamma, community service is centered on helping the blind and preventing vision loss. The University chapter is only a year old, but the group already has established a vision-screening program at the Children’s Museum. Delta Gamma also has done vision screening at three locations in Hyde Park and plans to do more.

    Fourth-year Bethany Ruedel, who organized Delta Gamma’s service activities, recently won a “Women of Vision” Award in recognition of the screening program and other fund-raising efforts. The award, sponsored by Prevent Blindness America and Lenscrafters, was given to five people this year––all medical professionals, except Ruedel.

    Delta Gamma’s screening program uses shapes, not letters, so children do not have to speak English to take the test. Among the group’s members are speakers of Korean, Chinese, Russian, French and Spanish, who can understand––or at least guess at––the children’s answers. “Our diversity really helps,” said Ruedel.

    Fraternities at the University also sponsor charity events, though most do not have specific service requirements, as do the sororities. Last quarter, Alpha Delta Phi fraternity organized a barbecue to raise money for the Jeremy Glick Memorial Fund. Glick, who died when United Airlines flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Sept. 11, was a member of the Rochester chapter of Alpha Delta Phi. “It is widely suspected that he was one of the four passengers who led the charge into the cockpit,” said Nandan Desai, Alpha Delta Phi’s president. The fraternity has designated the American Red Cross relief fund as its other charity for the year.

    For many students, the opportunity to do charity work with others was one of the main reasons for joining a Greek organization. “I chose to be in a sorority to take part in a group that does philanthropic work,” said second-year Rina Martinez, philanthropy chair for sorority Alpha Omicron Phi. “It is so easy to take part in philanthropy all the time.”

    Martinez recently organized a Valentine’s Day rose sale, an annual event that raises money for the Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation for Arthritis Research. Last quarter, the group sponsored a blood drive that collected 54 units, which could help as many as 162 patients.

    “One of the stereotypes of being a Greek student is that it is a very social-based group to belong to,” said Martinez. “We do so much more than just have our social activities, and that shows through our philanthropic work.”