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Revamped GPU commits to giving back

By Elizabeth Rodriguez '15

October 31, 2013

Greek societies at Hamilton stand out from those typical of any large university, or even small college for that matter. Rather than throwing exclusive parties in keg stand-filled frat houses, Hamilton’s Greek Organizations host all-campus parties that make up one dimension of the College’s weekend social scene. And that’s hardly their sole contribution to the campus and surrouding communties. Greek societies also collaborate in their charity efforts.

This is largely because of the Greek Philanthropy Union (GPU), a club comprised of Philanthropy Chairs from each Greek society on campus. The club has currently undergone some changes as Sam Hutchinson ’13 handed the club over to new GPU President Graham Boyd ’14, Vice President Chris Jusuf  ’15 and Treasurer Kiyan Savar ’15. This new team is strong out of the gate and shows great promise to improve the GPU’s visibility on campus.

One of the biggest changes to the GPU this year is the development of community partners, to which each society will dedicate its efforts and maintain a consistent relationship. Boyd added, “the development of community partners, will help Greek societies develop long term relationships with local organizations, allowing us to truly give back to the community.”

In the past, some Greek societies have had particular non-profit organizations for which they consistently volunteered. For example, sorority Alpha Theta Chi has been volunteering at the Kirkland Town Library on a weekly basis for at least five years. However, having the GPU expect these formal relationships with community partners encourages societies to commit to non-profits and further supports those who already have.  Additionally, the GPU promotes accountability and dedication to community partners by maintaining high expectations of its members. More importantly, it provides a platform for sharing service experiences, debriefing and problem-solving, which are so integral to sustaining and improving service.

There is something very powerful in the simple act of gathering and sharing service experiences; it allows for meaningful reflection. Boyd shared his own experience after Chi Psi had their first service day with the Montgomery Experience, a local non-profit providing an outdoor haven to families and children with cancer or other terminal illnesses.

“It was an incredible experience, giving us all some perspective on the challenges faced by many in the Oneida County area,” Boyd said.

Hearing great service stories, such as Boyd’s, encourages other Greek societies to get involved and spreads the love of service.

As about a third of the campus community, Greek members have power in numbers when it comes to philanthropy. The GPU presents an exciting way to unite Greek societies and focus their efforts towards philanthropic events. The GPU is currently honing in on Breast Cancer Awareness Month and has organized large-scale events that will involve a majority of Greek life and the Hamilton community. A Powderpuff Football game and a Breast Cancer Walk during Family Weekend are the first events the GPU will accomplish as a collective unit.    Breast Cancer Awareness events do not stop there. On the individual level, Greek society Delta Chi had their annual three-versus-three basketball tournament Saturday, Oct. 26, and all proceeds collected during that event will benefit cancer research. Events such as the basketball tournament are expected to gain a lot of traction with the student body and, of course, with Greek members. it is evident the GPU is succeeding in garnering support for its first collective and individual events by strengthening ties among societies and regularly meeting to discuss upcoming events.

With the influx of changes to Greek life over past years, recent press surrounding Greek societies has centered on pledging, rushing and perhaps housing. The GPU may serve as Greek life’s saving grace. Instead of the College viewing Greek societies as sole advocates of their own social issues, the GPU broadcasts the impressive philanthropic achievements made by Greek members on a daily basis.

Further, the GPU challenges societies to extend efforts outside of its small group of members. Jusef explained, “While everyone in fraternities and sororities already know the networking, bonding and growth benefits [Greek societies] provide to its members, it’s important that the entire community benefit from our existence as well.”

Thanks to the GPU, Greek societies will be much more visible on campus as they maintain community partners, hold large-scale fundraisers and seek to improve relations beyond those with our own societies.

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