While pop culture might depict fraternity and sorority life on college campuses as an outlet for partying, at a university whose motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), the fraternity and sorority community is committed to philanthropy. 

Through philanthropic and service events, Virginia Tech fraternities and sororities give back to both the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg communities.

Virginia Tech’s fraternity and sorority community comprises 56 chapters and more than 4,300 student members. With 18 percent of Virginia Tech’s undergraduate population participating in fraternity and sorority life, the philanthropic impact the members have is incredible. 

Last year, the Virginia Tech fraternity and sorority community raised more than $350,000 and logged more than 30,000 hours of community service for various philanthropies.

Karlin Triggs of Woodbridge, Virginia, a senior majoring in mathematics education in the College of Science, is vice president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.and Panhellenic liaison to the National Pan-Hellenic Council. 

“It is important to show that you appreciate the community and the people around it,” Triggs said. “When you participate in a philanthropic effort that is actually relevant to the community, you learn so much about the people in the community and what they need. There is something in you that feels complete and like you actually made a difference when you are out helping. Sometimes it may be easier to just write a check for a cause and call it a day. But to actually go out and commit to service in the community, you become closer as a community.” 

Triggs’ sorority participates in service for the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

To build a solid foundation for the fraternal membership experience at Virginia Tech, Fraternity and Sorority Life emphasizes three components: community development, leadership, and learning. 

Phi Gamma Delta, also known as FIJI, is an example of how influential a chapter can be when implementing the components of Fraternity and Sorority Life. FIJI’s philanthropy is The V Foundation, an organization devoted to cancer research. In collaboration with the University of Virginia chapter, the brothers of FIJI have raised more than $430,000 in recent years.

“We have an unbelievable commitment from our brothers to raise money,” said Doug Bowman of Richmond, Virginia, a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “The total donations have increased significantly in recent years as our chapter continues to grow. We send approximately 1,500 letters to family and friends from whom we receive an outstanding response. We also solicit business sponsorships.”

Many of the Virginia Tech organizations receive national recognition for their dedication to service. Tau Kappa Epsilon was awarded the Top TKE award by their national fraternity for the chapter’s success in their philanthropy, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and other areas of service.

Camaraderie shared between chapters is also a factor, and fraternal organizations often work together to increase their philanthropic impact. Last year, Phi Sigma Kappa and Alpha Tau Omega united to bring Step Up for Special Olympics to Virginia Tech. 

The sisters of Kappa Delta and Zeta Tau Alpha partner to host Stand Up! Stand Out! This program was created to teach women how to persevere through situations of negative peer pressure and reaffirm that their right to remain true to their values.

In addition to their participation in Virginia Tech’s Relay for Life and the Big Event, fraternities and sororities work together on their own day of service for businesses and families in the community surrounding Virginia Tech. 

Greeks Giving Back is a student-run effort that takes place each fall. Fraternities and sororities team up to complete hundreds of service projects, doing everything from yard work, to street cleaning, to painting houses. Greeks Giving Back strengthens the bond between Greeks at Virginia Tech and their neighbors in Blacksburg.  

 

 

Written by Alexandra Hill of Falls Church, Virginia, a junior double-majoring in English and political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and by Brooke Williams of Christiansburg, Virginia, a junior double-majoring in English and communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.