Greek life at Brandeis is not the same as at other colleges and universities. Some might even go so far as to say that there is no official Greek life at Brandeis. This is, however, not the case. Greek life is present and buzzing with activity at our institution, and a more than fair number of students take advantage of what it has to offer to its members. Individuals are able to join fraternities and sororities such as Sigma Alpha Mu, Sigma Delta Tau, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Alpha Delta Phi, among others.
The dynamic between these groups and the university presents a conundrum, though, because the university does not recognize “secret societies” like Greek organizations. Some element of recognition is still necessary in order for these chapters to function on campus, for the fact of the matter is that they are quite active in diverse areas of student life. In comes the Greek Awareness Council (GAC).
According to Jason Varghese ’16, president of the Alpha Delta Phi (ADPhi) fraternity, although the Council does not replace an affiliation between the university and Greek life that operates on campus, it can serve as an official figurehead for all Greek life at Brandeis.
While the Council serves as a liaison between the Greek organizations that exist off campus, it also serves as a conduit through which Greek life can conduct certain operations on campus.
Varghese spoke about how the Council operates, explaining, “It’s a recognized club, so we’re allowed to reserve spaces, but not for individual Greek organizations, so I can’t go and say that ADPhi wants to reserve a space.” Recognized clubs are not entitled to request club funding.
He continued on to give an example of what the Council does. “For philanthropy week, [the Council] rented out Chum’s for one of our philanthropic events, and they hosted a number of acts which performed and raised money for the cause they were working for,” Varghese said.
An essential aspect to many chapters of Greek life is philanthropy, and the chapters present here are not different in that respect. “[The Council] is more of a unifier. It brings all Greek life together to do good with our philanthropy events,” he said.
Each semester, a philanthropic “Greek Week” is hosted by the Council, during which the Greek chapters support the Council’s efforts to raise money for charity. Last year the fundraising supported Relay for Life and Boston Children’s Hospital, and this year they worked in support of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. A representative of the Council commented, “Philanthropy is a big part of Greek life in general, so we try to put the most energy into that as an organization. This philanthropy week is a great way to get the different organizations to work together, as well as involve the student body as a whole.”
Among those included in the lineup to perform at the successful Council Chum’s event during the week of Oct. 26 were student groups such as Starving Artists, VoiceMale, Crowd Control, Company B and Bad Grammer. The Council also hosted a bake sale.
In addition to bringing the various Greek chapters together for their philanthropic efforts, the Council connects the fraternities and sororities to the university and the student body in a way that better allows them to organize events such as bystander intervention and alcohol trainings. The Council representative also commented that another role of the Council is being “to foster an open dialogue between the many Greek organizations, the administration and the student body.”
Something else that the Council allows is for Greek organizations to meet directly with the administration and other parties from the pulpit of a concerned, recognized student group. “Our biggest concern is safety, and we interact with the administration just enough so that we can achieve that,” the Council representative said. Varghese also remarked, “Right now we’re at a place where more communications at both ends [is] needed”; however, he also continued that he’s pleased with the dynamic that has formed between Brandeis and the Greek chapters that are present.
“The whole relationship between philanthropy week and Greek organizations are that [the Council] plans it out, and we send the manpower to these events, help to run them and make sure they’re a success,” Varghese said.
While the Greek Awareness Council may operate in place of organizations not officially recognized by the university, it nonetheless does good for others that should be recognized by all.