As the Greek student community at Washington State University looks ahead to spring semester, it plans to build upon a solid foundation of leadership development, philanthropy, citizenship, and community building.
In a community that comprises 3,600 students, 52 organizations, and more than 15,000 alumni, Greek students are making big impacts locally, nationally, and even around the world, said Dan Welter, director of the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Many of their accomplishments were showcased recently during the annual Arete Awards Ceremony on the Pullman campus, where the top Greek chapters, leaders, and advisors were honored. Also recognized were chapters that organized impactful community service and social justice activities, held philanthropic events, and excelled in academics.
“All the amazing things our students are doing is testament to how the Greek community adds value to the student experience and creates opportunities for them to make connections in ways you can’t get in other spaces,” Welter said.
Not satisfied with ‘being a bystander’
One big way Greek students are making connections is by volunteering in the community. Last spring semester, fraternities, sororities, and multicultural Greek organizations tallied over 13,000 hours of volunteer work.
The women of Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority, Inc. volunteered at domestic violence and women’s shelters, participated in events that empower women, and organized collection drives for domestic violence shelters.
For their work helping to combat violence against women, Sigma Psi Zeta received an Arete Award for social justice, something Chapter President Aja Uesato said its members are passionate about.
“We are highly aware of the injustices that occur in this area and everywhere,” Uesato said. “We aren’t satisfied with being bystanders and are using the platform our sorority gives us to constantly pursue change.”
Greek chapters are also engaged in raising money to support community organizations. Every year, Chi Sigma Alpha National Sorority, Inc., which won an Arete Award for philanthropy, hosts a benefit concert and donates all the proceeds from ticket sales to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year’s event raised over $800. They also helped the Montessori School in Pullman revive its annual International Celebration and raised money for school supplies.
“We want to help because we understand what it’s like to face problems that we have no control over,” said Arielle Argel, Chi Sigma Alpha president. “Although we have many time constraints as college students, we believe that if you truly care about something, you make time for it.”
In addition to community service and philanthropy, Greek students are devoting time to learning about everything from time management and study skills to how to prevent hazing and manage mental health. Since January 2022, the Greek community has organized over 270 educational programs that have attracted more than 25,000 student participants. Welter said a lot of learning is taking place inside the classroom, too, as Greek students continue to maintain a higher overall grade point average than non-Greek students.
A challenge to young Greek alumni
WSU alum and former Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Aaron Fandel describes the Greek community as one of the most “resourceful, “resilient, and triumphant” communities available to students.
He credits the skills he developed while volunteering and organizing events as a Greek leader for his post-graduation success.
To give back to the community that gave him so much, last year he committed $25,000 to honor each person selected as the IFC Greek of the Year with a $5,000 scholarship through 2025. He plans to double that amount next year, establish a similar scholarship for the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) Greek of the year in 2024, and then create another one for the Panhellenic Greek of the Year in 2025.
“I hope my donations encourage more young Greek alumni to give back to the students who are doing so much for the community,” Fandel said.