By Brianna Bush & Kendra Williams
During Greek Week 2021, UT Fraternity and Sorority Life (UTFSL), devoted their time to raising over $60,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society’s fundraiser, Relay For Life, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and 6,742 cans to Feeding Tampa Bay!
UTFSL is made up of a diverse student body that fosters an inclusive, philanthropic, and leadership-driven community. Greek Week is one of the most highly-anticipated activities orchestrated by students to show their spirit and pride as a member. Fundraising is led by a series of special events, and the hard work and dedication among UTFSL do not go unnoticed.
“Traditionally, Greek Week has always been centered around Relay for Life,” said Katrina Georgelas, the student coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life Programming. “When I first joined the FSL team three years ago, I pitched the idea of adding The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.”
She played a major role in this astonishing outcome as she planned and managed all of the activities for Greek Week.
“Suicide is a cause that is very dear to my community back home and the Greek community following the loss of one of our members 4 years ago,” said Georgelas. “Mental health matters, and it’s amazing to see the community come together to tackle this issue.”
While being sure to maintain safety precautions, teams were created for the Greek Week fundraisers to add in some competitiveness and fun.
“We fundraise everything through CrowdChange, which allows everything to be raised completely online. The whole week is based on “points,” said Georgelas. “Each of our seven teams had opportunities to earn points throughout the week. The team that raised the most money for AFSP received 200 points!”
Georgelas continued, “We also held surprise ‘flash fundraisers’ for 50 bonus points throughout the week for Relay for Life and AFSP.”
The pandemic has presented challenges for many individuals, so that was also a huge motivation for UTFSL members going in.
“Our ability as an FSL community to come together in the middle of a pandemic and raise $60,000 going to both AFSP and Relay for life is incredible,” said Taylor Jenkins, a senior communications major. “There are so many people in need of treatment that can’t afford it and this pandemic has made it worse financially.”
The opportunity for the members of UTFSL to donate to these notable organizations is making a great impact on those who need it the most.
“The fact that we have been blessed with the ability to raise money and help so many individuals is amazing,” Jenkins said. “Family and friends have also been a huge support with their generous donations as well. The greek community is one big family that I’m proud to be a part of!”
Though Greek life at The University of Tampa strives to benefit the communities around them, they also strive to benefit others within their community.
“It wasn’t about all the letters or the idea,” said Claudia Boyd, a junior finance major. “It was the genuine, loving, ambitious women of Sigma Kappa that completely drew me in.”
For the fraternities of Greek life, it’s much of the same. “I didn’t come to Tampa expecting to join Greek life,” said Maxwell Brodsky, the President of Alpha Epsilon Pi.
“It kind of found me,” said Brodsky. While the chapter is not faith-based, it establishes Jewish culture that provides a space where he can greatly connect with the members of his fraternity. “It’s a brotherhood, and we’re definitely all close to each other.”
Greek life is also associated with hosting large parties off and on campus. During the pandemic, across the country, many fraternities and sororities have been shut down due to not adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. Oftentimes this puts Greek life members under an automatic stereotype.
“I believe there is some truth to that,” said Brodsky. “However, for the most part, if they’re partying I bet they are still benefiting the community in some way.”
Boyd is also aware of the stereotypes surrounding Greek life. “I would caution people against reducing Greek life down to just partying. People are very quick to make generalizations, but it’s important to know that here at UT Greek life has extensive regulations on COVID-19 safety guidelines,” said Boyd.
The work UTFSL has done is an inspiration, and they have still managed to make a positive impact on their community, even in a time that brings on more challenges than the past.
“Greek life gave me a home,” said Brodsky. “I don’t know where I would be at this school if I didn’t have this.”