Written by Alina Peter ’15
Gustavus Adolphus College is home to a number of fraternities and sororities that are devoted to aiding and improving the St. Peter community and raising money for charities. These Greek organizations hardly conform to negative stereotypes held by society: excessive drinking, crazy parties, and hurtful exclusivity, but rather take great pride in their philanthropic contributions to people in need.
This year, Epsilon Pi Alpha reaped sizable returns from “Rock for Tots,” an event in which bands play in Mankato bars and money raised is donated to Toys for Tots. The event was co-hosted with the Marine Corps, which contributed by donating toys.
“Gustavus Greeks handle community service very well – better than other schools where fraternities are merely social groups,” remarks Peter Michaletz, a senior biology major, music minor and co-president of Epsilon Pi Alpha. “Community is one of our College’s core values and organizations that do not significantly contribute back are holding themselves back in terms of growth.”
Epsilon Pi Alpha has been focusing on diabetes for their philanthropy project, raising awareness of the disease through a number of events.
In addition to a silent auction, the on-campus Take The Hill Triathlon has been a great success. Participants complete the swimming portion of the race in Lund and the cycling and running portions outside. Each spring Epsilon Pi Alpha offers glucose testing, hosts documentary showings, and features skits and education about diabetes and available treatments. All proceeds of these events go to Insulindependence, a non-profit started by Gustavus and Epsilon Pi Alpha alumnus Peter Nerothin ’02.
Even though their philanthropy project is a sizable endeavor, Epsilon Pi Alpha also participates in smaller events including, biannually cleaning the ditches of their adopted section of highway, ushering and valeting for the annual Nobel Conference, participating in a canned food drive where participants create can sculptures before donating the food to the local food shelf, and has even volunteered at the St. Peter Arts Centre gala event. This spring, Epsilon Pi Alpha intends to initiate a new project with an area Committee Against Domestic Abuse (CADA) House, which they have worked with in the past.
“Gustavus is a part of the St. Peter community,” Michaletz said. “It only makes sense to give back. Service is an integral part of the relationship between the College and the community.”
“We like to give back to the community. It’s a big part of what we do,” states Dan Opitz, a member of Tau Psi Omega. “We owe it to the community that supported us while we grew up and have the power to do what needs to be done.”
Tau Psi Omega hosts an annual alcohol-education event titled “Wasted” in the winter to educate students about the danger of drinking at parties. In the spring, the fraternity raises funds for Special Olympics Minnesota by participating in the Polar Plunge.
Additionally, Tau Psi Omega sponsors Loney Fest in honor of Brendan Loney, a Gustavus student who broke his neck in a diving accident. A Gustavus band performs at Patrick’s, where t-shirts as well as band/burger deals are offered, with all proceeds going to Loney’s Supplemental Needs Trust.
“When we help the community we represent Gustavus in a good manner, showing who we are in a snapshot,” Opitz said.
The Delta Phi Omega sorority puts forth a great deal of time and effort with their philanthropy project, focusing especially on fundraisers for breast cancer awareness. Last year alone, the sorority raised $14,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and will be participating in Relay for Life, where colleges form relay teams, raising money for cancer treatment and research.
“Greeks sometimes get a negative image and helping others is a way to improve this image,” remarks Danika Anastasi, a senior psychology major and previous co-community service chair of the Inter Greek Senate. “You always get something back and you gain more than you give.”
The sorority also participates in smaller fundraisers such as Kids Against Hunger and the St. Peter Fun Run – events that first and foremost meet the needs of the community. Like other Greek organizations, Delta Phi Omega also helps out with events that benefit Special Olympics Minnesota.
“We often share a common goal,” Anastasi said, referring to other Greek organizations on campus. “Fraternities and sororities at Gustavus support very important causes and we want each other to do well.”
According to Anastasi, community service possesses many benefits including real world experience, and a developed sense of humility while serving others. She encourages everyone to serve, getting others involved in projects that will better the world.
“Reflecting back on the help you are giving the community makes all the service worthwhile,” Anastasi said.
To find out more information about what Gustavus fraternities and sororities are doing in the areas of community service and philanthropy, go online to the Inter-Greek Senate website at gustavus.edu/sao/greeklife/igs.php