COLUMN: Greek houses must re-evaluate philanthropy
Do the ends justify the means? I say “no.” Unfortunately many of those who manage activities that facilitate inter-greek relations do not feel the same way.
I’m talking about philanthropy as competition in inter-greek relations. As a member of an Interfraternity Council fraternity, I speak with firsthand experience about how greatly philanthropy matters to members of greek life. Philanthropy by itself is nothing controversial; the problem arises when it is incorporated into competitions between greek houses.
From Homecoming to Dance Marathon and many other Campus Activities Council events, members of greek life are asked to participate in competitions that raise money for third-party philanthropies.
For example, in CAC Homecoming, greek houses and other student organizations participate in Homecoming Hold-Up, where members dress in costumes, stand in a fake cage and beg passing students to donate money to charity. The activity itself isn’t the problem — the problem is that, should a fraternity or student organization choose not to participate, CAC Homecoming will withhold points, and that fraternity, sorority or student organization most likely will not win Homecoming.
The idea that a fraternity or sorority should have to use its efforts to raise money for a third-party organization in order to win a competition that almost always only is between other fraternities and sororities is questionable at the very least. In this case, CAC Homecoming can withhold points as a means to coerce fraternities and sororities into making money for its chosen benefactor. Not to mention that benefactor is CAC Dance Marathon, an organization that contains many of the same members as CAC Homecoming, whose résumés indirectly will be strengthened by the amount these organizations raise for them.
Recently, those who manage the President’s Trophy competition have decided those greek organizations whose members attend CAC Dance Marathon for the entirety of its 12-hour duration will receive 12 hours of community service toward the President’s Trophy. What I did not mention is that CAC Dance Marathon requires a $20 donation to attend. This effectively means that greek houses literally can buy points that will help them win the President’s Trophy. I can say from firsthand experience that our fraternities’ executive members have been urging us to do exactly that.
Those who facilitate campus competitions between greek houses either need to remove philanthropy from the direct competition or greek houses need to reevaluate what winning these competitions means. Winning a competition like Homecoming is a powerful tool for recruitment and a great way to ensure you are paired with more desirable greek organizations in future competitions.
CAC should create opportunities for participation in philanthropy. However, incorporating philanthropy into otherwise non-philanthropic competitions and using points as leverage is going too far. Allow greek houses to manage their own philanthropic endeavors.
I have become disillusioned with competitions that involve philanthropy because I feel my brothers and their efforts are being used as a means to an end for CAC.
I know for a fact that, should CAC remove philanthropy from the direct aspect of competition, my fraternity and many others still would be more than happy to participate.
Scott Houser is an international business junior.