"More philanthropy, less party"
The United Council of Cultural Fraternities and Sororities for a good cause
Many college students get a kick out of partying, drinking and going out.
Michael Zhang, a UB alum, along with his fraternity, Lambda Phi Epsilon (LPE), doesn't.
Zhang, who is still an active member of his fraternity despite no longer being a student at UB, said his involvement with LPE allows him to enjoy activities besides partying and drinking. Rather, he and his friends like to help others in society through philanthropic events.
Monday night's fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings was one of many events LPE has been involved in. The United Council of Cultural Fraternities and Sororities (CFS), which include seven fraternities and sororities, hosted the event that was open to the public.
This was the biggest fundraiser done by CFS, according to its president, Sherrod McRae, a junior economics major. All proceeds from the event are going to the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, a first-time beneficiary of CFS.
"I think it's good for the CFS and for all of us, because we don't usually work together like this to raise money," said Sally Huang, a sophomore occupational science major and CFS secretary. "We do it within our own organization, so I think it's good that we're coming together."
Kevin Shieh, a senior intended-economics major and brother of LPE, agreed the event was a "good way" to come closer as organizations of CFS.
"Basically, I came out today because it's for charity," Shieh said. "We may not ever get the chance to chill with other organizations, so this is a good opportunity for us to do that."
Also in attendance on Monday was Inter-Greek Council President Brandon Rivera, a junior intended-economics major. He came to find out for himself whether the fundraiser would be a success, he said.
"I wanted to see if people could actually congregate with different organizations rather than by themselves," Rivera said. "It's a good idea."
The fundraiser took place right at the end of UB's Greek Week. It was an opportunity for the brothers and sisters to showcase their respective organizations and get a little bit of public exposure in a positive way, according to Pam Stephens-Jackson, assistant director for Fraternity & Sorority Life.
Stephens-Jackson said it wasn't necessarily a "demonstration of their leadership skills," but the "camaraderie and organization" of events.
McRae said Greek Week is about spreading Greek awareness on campus through various activities, like window painting in the Student Union. He said the various Greek organizations could earn points through competitive events like football and dodge ball, and these points would then be tallied at the end of the week.
"In general, I think it was really good ... they put in a lot of time and effort in planning the events so that it wasn't haphazard," Stephens-Jackson said. "They allowed organizations opportunities to earn points in ways other than just typical things like those Olympics-kind of activities and eating activities."
Greek organizations could earn points by attending philanthropy events that occurred during the week.
Huang said she has become more involved in philanthropic events since joining her sorority, Sigma Psi Zeta (SPZ), last semester. She emphasized Greek life isn't just about partying.
"We're not all about partying and all these construed images that we have in movies and television," Zhang said.
He believes Greek life is more than that and does not want people to think they're "all about drinking and doing stupid things."
Rivera is aware of this stereotype and said the UB community is "not at all" aware of CFS. Although he believes it has improved, Rivera still wants the structure of CFS to change. He hopes the members of Greek organizations interact more with each other.
"I wish Greeks would just stop looking at themselves as Greeks and more just as regular people who have a different experience from everyone else and a different perspective," Rivera said. "If they did that then they can approach people easier and do their purpose and actually be leaders on campus."
Stephens-Jackson understands this stereotype that "has been around for years" and believes it is due to the media's portrayal of Greek life. She said Greek organizations are still "fighting the same stereotype" that existed in the past and has yet to disappear.
Stephens-Jackson constantly reminds students to be extra cautious in their behavior, especially when they are wearing their Greek letters.
Felix Chan, a sophomore accounting major and brother of LPE, also attended the event at Buffalo Wild Wings and wants Greeks to have a better image.
"The motto for our fraternity is: 'To Be Leaders Among Men,'" Chan said. "To be a leader, it's not just about helping yourself, but the people around you. [We want to] step away from the partying and stuff like that ... [and] be seen as members of society who actually give back."
Shieh had specifically joined his fraternity because of its values.
"I wanted to be a part of something bigger than just myself," Shieh said. "I saw that they were hosting a lot of philanthropy events, and they really weren't just there to mess around or not focus on school ... I wanted to be a part of an organization like that."
Stephens-Jackson admits there were times when the Greek organizations did things she wasn't proud of. However, she still applauds their efforts.
"You pick your battles," Stephens-Jackson said. "They're not ever going to be exactly what I am or what I want them to be, so you look for the greater good. And for that I would have to say yes, I am proud of them."