Left: Drew Haugen, Janelle Miller, and Jade Kiser represent their chapters at Meet the Greeks at the Rotunda Patio of outside the MSC (Courtesy of Ariel Rancher-Shields/The Current)
By Janeece Woodson, Staff Writer
Sororities and fraternities alike welcomed students with music and snacks on the University of Missouri—St. Louis’ Millennium Student Center lawn on September 2 for the Meet the Greeks gathering. There, prospective members had the chance to meet some of the executives of the sororities and fraternities and ask any pertinent questions they had about Greek life.
There are 15 sororities and fraternities on UMSL’s campus. The average chapter at UMSL has about 42 members, according to the Office of Greek Life.
“I personally think because we’re a commuter campus, we run our chapters differently,” said Jade Kiser, senior, special education, president of the Panhellenic Association at UMSL. “It feels like our chapters are part of a smaller college, but we still have the large university experience.”
Besides the usual hooks of friendship, distinction and networking, one focal point for interested students was the connection between Greek life and community service. All Greek organizations at UMSL are expected to maintain community service standards and this often leads to a more prominent sense of community. Every chapter must hold one community service event and a separate philanthropic event per semester. In the past year alone, UMSL’s 14 chapters raised more than $22,000 for charity and logged over 4,000 hours of helping others.
In addition to planning and hosting service events, each chapter member must contribute an average of 10 hours of some form of community service. According to the UMSL Office of Greek Life, “Community service is hands-on service and does not include monetary donation or goods collected.”
The leaders and members of UMSL’s chapters seem intent on committing themselves to this goal. “You are motivated to be more involved because of your brothers and sisters,” said Drew Haugen, junior, nursing, president of Interfraternity Council and member of Sigma Tau Gamma.
“[I joined] to help out my community and have fun doing it,” said Sigma Tau Gamma member Matt Connell, sophomore, engineering.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than a quarter of St. Louis residents live below the poverty level. Several UMSL fraternities and sororities seek to combat issues like poverty in the community. “In this past year, our chapters here will have fed 1,100 families,” said Kiser.
Some sorority and fraternity programming also tackles other problems like terminal illnesses, sexual and racial discrimination and declining academic goals in youth. Each chapter has the freedom to decide what aspect of the community they wish to contribute to; for example, one chapter chose to collect shoes and donated 943 pairs to a local charity. The Beta Delta chapter, which represents the first black Greek-letter organization created by American women, often holds scholarship pageants and discussions at local schools to encourage academic pursuit in younger students.
“One of our chapters cleans up Natural Bridge every year,” said Haugen.
National sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha upholds a mantra that guides the entire organization, “service for all mankind,” according to member Janelle Miller, junior, criminal justice.
“Our philanthropies in the community are the Special Olympics, suicide awareness, and the Ronald McDonald Foundation,” said Haugen.
These standards not only motivate chapters to meet their own philanthropic goals; they also encourage a different aspect of friendship. “I think my goal is to do programming with the other two capsules, and do things that will include all of us,” said Kiser.
“[It is my goal to] collaborate with the other two capsules and to see more Greek unity overall; I can see it’s already happening,” said Miller. The ongoing efforts of UMSL’s Greek organizations to help the surrounding community will also soon be coupled with attempts to end hazing. From Sept. 21-25, various chapters will host events for “These Hands Don’t Haze,” a program held for National Hazing Prevention Week. A mixer with the UMSL Police Department will be held for the occasion from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on September 23, in Century Room C of the Millennium Student Center.
For more information about upcoming Greek events and community service projects, visit facebook.com/umslgreeklife.