Yoav Yaacobi discusses the importance of philanthropy in Greek life.
In light of recent criticisms of Greek organizations and the kind of destructive groupthink behavior that can occur “in the dark basements of fraternity houses,” it is important to note the positive things that come out of these organizations. Sure, there are some problems that need to be resolved, and I in no way intend to justify the very real and very wrong behavior that can occur as a result of high concentrations of testosterone in a room; however contrary to what is apparently popular belief, these mobs of men are not, in fact, terrible people.
I find it important to note that the fine individuals that comprise Jewell’s fraternities can and do use their power for good. This often, but not exclusively, manifests itself in the form of philanthropy.
The benefits of living in and being a part of a large unit can produce some incredible philanthropic results. The parties at which, by some people’s standards, lewd and inappropriate behavior happens, primarily exist for the sake of generating lots and lots of cash-money for good causes. Where these parties may fail to promote social equality (once again, I’m really not trying to justify it), they succeed at creating real and concrete contributions to the wellbeing of our community.
KA [Kappa Alpha Order], for instance, averages 2,700 hours of community service per year and contributed over $2,500 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association last year, in addition to significant contributions to other organizations.
My fraternity, FIJI [Phi Gamma Delta], contributed $2,000 to the Kansas City chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse last fall, as well as $8,000 in the spring to ameliorate the financial burden on the family of our brother, Wesley McKellar, that resulted from his ongoing fight against cancer. LCA [Lambda Chi Alpha] holds the annual Watermelon Bust and events such as the Lambda Chisland party to rake in the dough as well.
The most powerful forces in history have always been dedicated and goal-oriented groups of people, from the Crusades to the American Civil Rights Movement. Any one person can accomplish a lot, but that impact is exponentially magnified as like-minded individuals pursue an end together. The message here is that although Greek organizations have the ability to group together and cultivate a not-so-positive environment for some, they are also the organizations that are most suited to combatting those sorts of evils. As dysfunctional as fraternities may seem to be, they are more organized.
Philanthropy is just an example of the good that Jewell’s fraternities are capable of, and that is to entirely disregarding the internal good that members may find in their respective fraternities. I spend my words here discussing the contributions of fraternities because they have recently been the subject of some bad press, but my meaning applies equally and unqualifiedly to sororities, as well as Jewell’s non-Greek organizations. The massive philanthropic donations of time and money that the Greek system here at William Jewell provide is just a small example of the positive impact that dedicated individuals can do if they can organize and set their minds to making this campus and this community a better place.