Greek life stereotypes fail to show organizations' charity work

But members of UNC fraternities and sororities are actively involved in numerous philanthropic and community service projects. While Greek organizations run their own fundraising events, the UNC Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement works with students who are members of fraternities and sororities on projects including local programs and events.

Aaron Bachenheimer, the associate dean and director of the OFSLCI, is responsible for providing oversight, guidance and supervision of projects within the office.

“Over the last five years, Greek organizations have raised between $400,000 and $500,000 and provided between 15,000 and 20,000 hours of service each year,” he said. “This can be spread out among a few larger events that raise a lot of money and lots of small events that raise a little money.”

There are four councils represented at UNC that oversee different Greek chapters. The UNC Panhellenic Association governs sororities within the National Panhellenic Conference and represents the largest female Greek organization at UNC. Cherie Michaud, a coordinator for the OFSLCI, said that the 12 Panhellenic sororities represented at UNC are primarily philanthropy-based.

“These chapters foster a big family feel and have a large presence on campus,” she said.

The UNC Interfraternity Council governs 24 fraternity chapters and 1,500 members at UNC. The organization also displays a large focus on philanthropy with a secondary involvement in local service.

The Greek Alliance Council is unique to UNC. The organization oversees 14 different interest-based and multicultural chapters and is the newest, yet fastest-growing, council at UNC. These chapters place a large emphasis on community service, participating in local volunteering and education opportunities.

“GAC chapters have a very tight-knit family feeling,” said Michaud. “You can see members all over campus asking about each other’s day and making sure everyone is doing alright.”

The National Pan-Hellenic Council governs eight historically African-American fraternities and sororities at UNC. Like the GAC, this organization also focuses on local outreach and is heavily service-based.

“NPHC members participate in all kinds of local programs reading to young kids and volunteering in after-school programs,” Michaud said.

This summer, many NPHC members were part of Project Uplift at UNC. The program invites prospective students from historically underserved populations to visit UNC in order to increase the diversity of the undergraduate population. The annual program ran through May and June 2017 and approximately 1,000 students participated.

One responsibility of the OFSLCI is to track the amount of money raised and the number of service hours contributed by each Greek organization. Bachenheimer said there is a difference in philanthropy provided by groups affiliated with the NPHC or GAC and the IFC or Panhellenic Association.

“The NPHC and GAC place a larger emphasis on local service, education and outreach, focusing more on community service rather than fundraising,” he said.

Because the IFC and Panhellenic Association chapters are national organizations, their philanthropic relationships operate on a national scale. For example, the Delta Delta Delta sorority has a national philanthropic relationship with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and the UNC chapter raised over $66,000 during one event in 2016.

“With these relationships comes the expectation of raising money,” Bachenheimer said, “but these organizations also engage members in local service related to their national philanthropy.”

In 2016 all four councils collaborated on a service project with Orange County Habitat for Humanity. Over 400 hours of community service were contributed from members of each organization to build a house in Northside for a UNC employee.

“The Greek councils all said, ‘Let’s come together as a community for a shared cause,’” Michaud said.

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