UVM greeks serve up the community service

Crazy people, excessive drinking and themed parties is what comes to mind when non-Greek freshman John Mark Brigham thinks of UVM’s Greek life, and he is not alone.However, many of the 650 students in Greek life said that they became involved for a reason other than social motivation — community service.”There is a stigma against the Greek community at UVM, but we are honestly nothing like what you see in these ridiculous teen movies,” Kappa Beta Gamma freshman Natasha Silensky said.”We do a lot together, including philanthropy and service.”Last year, the UVM Greek community completed about 20,000 hours of community service and raised more than $68,000 for various charities, Greek life adviser Kim Monteaux said. “Generally, I believe we are perceived as noise makers and people who disrupt instead of help,” Christopher Sikora, president of Delta Tau Delta, said.”Service brings us [closer] to the community and it shows other people that we are a positive outreach of the community.”Each of the 18 chapters has their own charity, as well as other independent and collaborative work within the UVM community, Monteaux said.Alpha Delta Pi (ADPi) had 30 members volunteer at Burlington’s Winter Festival this past weekend, President Caitlin Ratty said.This semester, ADPi is planning a prom at a local nursing home, an indoor carnival for kids at the YMCA and numerous other events benefitting the Ronald McDonald house, Ratty said.Service is a huge part of fraternity Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) as well, Christian Ruf, AGR vice president for alumni relations, said.AGR volunteers with Cochran’s Ski Club, the first nonprofit ski club in the United States. “The misconception is that we only do it because we have to do it, but I know this is not the case for AGR,” Ruf said.Greek students are passionate about service and motivated, so there is no need to enforce any requirements, Monteaux said.”Many of the people who are interested in joining Greek life are already interested in the philanthropy work,” Silensky said. “I, myself, was very involved with community service in high school and liked the idea of still helping people during college.”The majority of Greek students feel the same, Monteaux said.”I would say nine times out of 10, new members have had some kind of experience with community service,” she said.”Service should be an important aspect of why people consider going Greek,” Sikora said.”[The service] should be something students see,” he said. “It shouldn’t be about joining because [of] the weekend social scene, but because of the weekend service too.”Ruf agreed. Community service should be a priority even for those not involved in Greek life, he said.”Why aren’t other organizations doing community service events?” Ruf said. “They have busy schedules, but so do we.”