Greeks Give Back
What are the first words that come to mind with the word “Fraternity”? Prior to this research, I personally would have answered “Booze and Bros”. However, Fraternities are so much more than just that. The magnitude of service projects and charities that Madison Fraternities engage in was continued on, year by year, unbeknownst to myself. A quick skimming through issues of past Breezes show an enormous effort done by both service and social fraternities to contribute donations and raise aware for a multitude of issues in the Harrisonburg community, Madison campus, and even on a national level.
“To see the smiling faces of thirty elderly women as one walks among them, or to see the happy tears and hear the
laughter of children opening Christmas gifts is indeed worth the time and effort. Many school functions are sponsored or aided by sororities and fraternities, so can it be believed that their basis is selfishness or disinterest[ed] in those outside of their small number?” – Karen Matthews, Greek Member, 10-7-1970 article of The Breeze
The following are just a few examples of the way that fraternities went above and beyond at Madison College in the 1970’s.
The above image is a great example of Fraternities contributing on a national level. In association with the Red Cross, Madison College’s Inter-Fraternity Council sponsored a successful blood drive February of 1975 . The fraternities gathered over 200 pints of blood from over 300 individuals.
Fraternity members brace themselves for a long and arduous night of phone calling during an Alumni sponsored Telethon in September of 1973. It was projected that up to 8000 phone calls would be made by volunteering fraternity members.
During this event, the volunteers would call alumni to inform them on the upcoming homecoming, as well as ask for donations. These donations went directly to Madison College to fund scholarships and other education programs.
The articles on the right demonstrate how Madison fraternities aided the local Harrisonburg Community. The first article illuminates on a frat’s decision to support the mentally handicapped. Through raffle sales, the fraternity raised money to help form a Boy Scout andGirl Scout troop for the local children with disabilities.
The second article mentions a clean-up effort for a nearby popular swimming hole called the Blue Hole. The young men from Tau Kappa Epsilon accomplished what they set out to do. They built a picnic table and barbecue pit for future frequenters of the Blue Hole. They also managed to pick up about a quarter ton of garbage (beer cans, bottles, etc).
Fraternities participated in countless service projects throughout the seventies. However, their helpfulness was not merely limited to organized events. In a particularly pleasant letter to the editor of the Breeze, a local resident recounts the tale of an impromptu act community service. After an ice storm, the resident and his ill neighbor were faced with the obstacle of clearing the extensive damage caused by fallen trees. Unsure if they were physically up to the task of removing the trees, the residents placed a request with JMU for assistance. Some fraternity men answered the call and happily volunteered their time and energy for these strangers. This is a prime example of the capacity for charitable contributions that fraternity men brought to the community.
However, were these examples of good will enough for the community to overlook the negative impacts that fraternities caused for the “Townies”?