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What do all-you-can-eat shindigs at Philly Diner, fuzzy ’staches and dodgeball tournaments have in common? Besides being an excuse to stuff your face, “forget” to shave or peg your archenemy, they are all annual philanthropy events hosted by Penn fraternities or sororities.

If you aren’t a part of Penn’s Greek scene, then it’s likely the words “Greek philanthropy” bring to mind images of sorority girls and frat stars hassling you to buy tickets. And, if you’ve mastered how to slyly avoid being bombarded with flyers, then that could be the extent of your know-how about Greek community-service efforts.

A social event for charity? Sounds like a sham, an excuse to party with a clean conscience. “I don’t see fraternities or sororities actually stepping out of their comfort zones or interacting with people that need help,” nonaffiliated College junior Ellie Dugan said. “The events usually just consist of them charging people to do what they like to do, and then sending the money off in an envelope to some charity.”

But I wouldn’t be so quick to judge.

As Loren Mead, College junior and Interfraternity Council vice president of community service, rightly said, “The Greek community is stereotyped as animal houses, but there’s a gap between the image and what we actually do. People don’t recognize that the fun events are for charity.”

The philanthropic efforts of Penn sororities and fraternities raise awareness for a number of causes and donate thousands of dollars to different charitable organizations each year.

Pancakes, concerts and pageants abound. You don’t have to look hard to see the Greek philanthropy currently underway. The fraternity Tau Epsilon Phi is in the middle of growing out their ’staches to raise money in support of prostate cancer awareness. Thanks in part to the facial hair of these frat boys, the mustache will hopefully become for prostate cancer what the pink ribbon is for breast cancer.

Some non-Greeks don’t think partying and giving are mutually exclusive. College freshman Drew Hasson said, “It seems like [Greek philanthropy events] just kind of balance out what the houses usually do — party.”

Engineering freshman Jon Law chimed in, “College kids want to give back, but the mood doesn’t have to be a somber one. A good cause is a good cause.”

And brothers agree that charity can come in many forms. Pi Kappa Phi brother and Wharton senior Jeff Kaplan pointed out that “Greek organizations tend to have broader reach than other campus groups and can plan very successful annual events.”

Not all Greek philanthropy is focused on beards or donations. Members of the Greek community also clock in a remarkable number of service hours.

Just last month, several fraternities hosted haunted houses in conjunction with the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project. Over 70 kids from elementary schools in West Philadelphia came to campus for a frat-style scare during the week of Halloween.

Wharton senior and Chi Omega President Jennifer Costello recognized the benefit of having actual contact instead of simply cutting a fat check. “Having more direct interaction with the children we’re helping is something that we’ve tried to increase,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Still not convinced about the legitimacy of these events? Remember, the Office Student Affairs/Fraternity Sorority Life stipulates that all events with alcohol must be registered. So, no one is binge drinking for the cure.

And moreover, Greek houses aren’t the only groups on campus that host social events for a cause. Community School Student Partnerships recently hosted a date auction at City Tap House to raise money for the mentoring program.

I was once a skeptic about the legitimacy of Greek philanthropy. But after a year as a proud sorority gal, I’ve learned to look past the parties’ streamers. My hope is that both Greeks and non-Greeks can do the same.

Kensey Berry is a College sophomore from Little Rock, Ark. Her e-mail address is Berry Nice appears on Tuesdays.

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