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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 82, Number 1 (Nov. 1980)

Roberts, Craig
Now we can be grateful for Greeks bearing gifts,   p. 12


Page 12


Now we can be grateful for
Greeks Bearing Gifts
Theta Chi's "Ski for Cancer" raised $25,500 last'
By Craig Roberts '80
Dashing across a fraternity lawn, a pretty
blonde sorority woman approaches two
middle-aged men on the sidewalk. Holding
a cellophane-wrapped mum garnished with
a large red "W," she begins her sales pitch.
"Hi, I'm Ruth, and my sorority is selling
mums to raise money for the children at the
Central Wisconsin Center. How would you
like to help us by buying one?"
   The men found it hard to resist. She sold
each a flower for $2.50 apiece.
   Philanthropic endeavors like this are not
unusual on the campus in today's Greek
system. Their number and scope have
grown appreciably during the past few
years.
   Thirty years ago-even twenty years
ago-their numbers were few and their
goals were modest. There was shoe-shining
by the now defunct Phi Sigma Sigma frater-
nity to raise money for the mentally re-
tarded; car-washing by sorority women to
buy refreshments for deaf children; Hal-
loween parties for a local orphanage.
   Major fund-raising activities in the early
1960s involved such all-Greek functions as
the traditional Humorology, whose pro-
year.
ceeds went to a camp for crippled children;
Campus Carnival and Campus Chest. Even
in 1966, while fraternities and sororities on
campus were booming, a local fraternity
publication, "Greekspeak," listed only
nine projects by eleven fraternities that
year. Of these, only four raised money to-
taling $4,300. Humorology's contribution
to that was $3,100.
   Then, after a drop in popularity of the
fraternal system during the late 1960s and
early 1970s, there has been a significant rise
in the occurrence of Greek-sponsored phi-
lanthropies, a rise which uniquely parallels
the resurgence of the Greek system.
   In 1974, there were eight projects
 among thirty Greek organizations. By
 1979, the number rose to seventeen among
 thirty-six. These seventeen last year raised
 over $68,000 for various charities, an in-
 crease of $22,000 over the previous year.
   Among the fraternities, the most
 successful fund-raiser has been Theta Chi's
 "Ski for Cancer." This decade-old charity
 raised $25,500 last year for the Milwaukee-
 Athletes-Against-Childhood-Cancer
 Fund.
   Kappa Kappa Gamma was the largest
sorority contributor. Working with the
United Way, it raised $25,600.
   While these two projects are well es-
tablished in Madison, other successful
efforts have begun within the last three
years. These include Evans Scholars'
Basketball Marathon, which netted $6,000
for the Central Colony Volunteer Project;
Phi Delta Theta's "Music Against Dys-
trophy," which brought in $2,000; and Chi
Phi's "Run for Dystrophy" which raised
$1,400 this past year.
   Some houses have joined forces in phil-
anthropic attempts. Alpha Chi Omega and
Chi Psi sponsored a band festival for the
Special Olympics. The annual Harvest Ball
is organized by Alpha Gamma Rho and
Kappa Alpha Theta for the Empty Stock-
ing Fund, and Sigma Chi's "Derby Days"
involves all of the sororities in fun relays for
the disturbed and handicapped patients at
Denver's Wallace Village.
   This recent growth in philanthropies is
also evidenced by the rebirth of Humorol-
ogy, which had folded in 1969 amidst the
radical political atmosphere on campus.
Under the supervision of Panhell and Zeta
Beta Tau, it returned in 1979 and raised
$1200 during the first year to aid the Multi-
ple Sclerosis Society.
   Although the increase in money-
producing philanthropies by fraternal or-
ganizations is well documented, the reason
for this growth is not so clear.
   Could it be that today's Greeks, as by-
products of a liberal era, are simply more
aware of and concerned for others?
   Possibly.
   However, a quick conference with many
of the fraternity leaders paints a more
realistic picture. Fraternities and sororities
have traditionally been stigmatized as ex-
clusive clubs for the rich, with bizarre haz-
ing rituals behind closed doors, and wild
beer parties. If the fraternities were to sur-
vive the depressed era of the early 1970s, it
was necessary to make a visible effort to
erase such usually inaccurate perceptions.
Philanthropies provided an excellent ave-
nue for these efforts.
   Today they help publicize organizations
during membership recruitment, are a
source of pride to its members and alumni,
and most of all, establish fraternities and
sororities as legitimate organizations with a
reason to exist.  i    t
12 / THE WISCONSIN ALUMNUS
Craig Roberts, of Oconomowoc, is a Chi
Phi and a senior in the School of Journal-
ism.


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