U greeks mix charity, competition

by Kevin McCahill

Even if the weather stays cold, the greek community is hoping the beginning of sweetheart season will warm things up.

Interfraternity President Alex Vu said sweetheart week has been a longstanding tradition in the Universityís greek community.

Sweetheart weeks are weeklong events that a majority of chapters have. For sororities, a delegate from each fraternity attends that weekís events vying for the chance to be the sweetheart of their chapter. He is their ìsorority brother” for that year. The process is the same, with roles reversed, for fraternities.

During the week, philanthropic and volunteer events are held along with more social events such as lip-synching contests and skits.

ìItís a good way for the houses to get to know each other,” Vu said. ìItís a combination of a social event and philanthropy.”

Peter Smithhisler, vice president of media and community relations for the National Interfraternity Council, said not all schools have sweetheart weeks, but it is up to each chapter to put one together.

At the University, Alpha Gamma Delta sorority had the first sweetheart week last week.

They had a pancake feed Saturday and did volunteer work during the week. According to Alpha Gamma Delta President Irene Fernando, the event raised more than $2,500 for the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation, which is one of the largest contributors to the American Diabetes Association.

ìWe are working towards connecting the community,” she said. ìAnything to make the campus smaller is a great way to be involved.”

Delta Tau Delta member Brad Jansen won the event, and is now the ìbeach boy” for the sorority.

ìI was going to have fun with the week anyway,” he said.

Even if he didnít win, Jansen said he still made 60 new friends.

Jansen said he now plans to eat dinner on Mondays with the sorority.

ìIn comparison to eating at frats, eating at a sorority is like having a five-star dinner,” he said.

Kappa Sigma member Teddy Nam won second place, and is now the groupís ìcabana boy.”

Sigma Nu will have their sweetheart week with a nacho feed and date auction this week.

Mark Peterson, interfraternity vice president for public relations and Sigma Nu member, said his fraternity is partnering with Phi Kappa Psi for the event. Peterson said Sigma Nu will raise money for the Red Cross.

ìWe do it mostly out of tradition,” he said. ìThere has been a push in the past to eliminate (sweetheart weeks), but we have strong risk-reduction guidelines.”

That push to eliminate sweetheart week comes from a concern that greek members care more about winning the contest than the philanthropy, Vu said.

ìSometimes they became too competitive and a lot of politics gets involved,” he said.

But Vu said students at the University are more responsible.

ìThey donít get upset if they lose,” Vu said of greek members. ìWe are focused around giving back to the community.”

Panhellenic Council President Gina Rozinka said sweetheart weeks are a great way to get to know other members of the greek community, but said the main focus is philanthropy.

Rozinka is a sweetheart herself for Delta Kappa Epsilon, and described it as the best experience of her college career.

ìI have 30 brothers looking out for me,” she said. ìYou are a special member of their chapter.”

Delegates from each chapter are elected by others in the chapter, and are often coached by someone from the host chapter during the competition.

Those competing will take part in volunteer work, philanthropy and social events, and the winner is typically crowned on a Saturday night.

Each sweetheart week is dry, or alcohol-free, for the chapter involved, which is something Peterson said he likes.

ìItís nice having a completely dry week while still having something going on every day.”

Peterson said there are strict rules against hazing and sexual harassment in order to keep the events enjoyable.

Sweetheart weeks run into April.