I currently serve as the National Philanthropy Coordinator for my sorority, so this is my input for this thread. I wasn’t Catholic during college (actually grew up in an anti-Catholic household). Little did I know that my ‘sisters’ would actually assist to leading me Home! Little did I know at the time, most of them were Catholic. One sister is now a Godparent for one of my children! Yes some errors were made during our college days, but I can’t say that the experience was totally immoral.
I can tell you first there is a huge difference between local & national organizations as well as between fraternities & sororities(while there are always an exception to this). While there are ‘secrets’ in my Sisterhood, I would be proud to have my mother/grandmother learn and go through the rituals and new member/pledge period that I did (if not, the organization is not worthy of your membership). Most national sororities are, in fact, God-based with prayers & even New Testament scripture verses & a strong base in high standards in self development & giving to others.
All our chapters are required to have a chapter advisor, campus advisor, assistant advisor, and chapter consultant (all volunteers). This is in addition to our National Staff support team that includes two different staff members (only 4 paid) having annual visits to the university to meet with the Dean of Students, etc. about concerns, etc. This leads to the next point…
Hazing is wrong, if it is in Greek letter organization, a sports team, or within a group of friends. As a national staff member I can tell you that my sisterhood confronts hazing head on and will even contact the college authorities if they hear of any incidences and go in and reeducate the members, dismissing if necessary. Do you know there are only 2 insurance companies that will even cover Greek organizations?! Why would we want our insurance premiums to go up due to hazing? The only thing insurers rate higher risk is Nuclear Power Plants.
I can also tell you that the organizations are only as good as their leaders. Our current national president is Catholic and many of the staff are either Catholic or very religious oriented people. What a great opportunity it is to demonstrate our faith through practice! I assisted in developing a national service program with Habitat for Humanity - definately a faith-based action group! As Catholic leaders we never know if we are planting a seed or watering the flower!
I strongly disagree with the statement that the only reason groups are performing philanthropic activities is to get new members. However that being said, who wouldn’t want someone who is selfless and thinks it is important to serve others in their organization?
In just 9 months my Sisterhood of 65 chapters nationwide (ave. chapter size less than 30) completed more than 288 different service projects, logging in over 17,224 hours (ave. chapter volunteering 287 hours; ave. member performing over 15 hours) valued at over $90,000 if paid. This doesn’t include the $51,000 raised for service organizations (over $800 a chapter). Not bad for college students!
Projects are chosen at the local level so activities aren’t just check the block ones, but meaningful ones to the members. Some projects include - domestic violence awarness, AIDS awareness, assisting with the elderly, cancer research, after-school programs, homeless shelters, environmental issues, voter registration projects, YMCA, foodbanks - just to name a few! I don’t think that an egocentric, immoral person would want to join an organization that takes up their time volunteering when they could be out partying, etc.
Now for some statistics… members of Greek organizations give 9% more to their alma mater than non-Greeks, Greeks participate more in volunteer work than non-Greeks, and increase retention of college students by 28%. Also, more than 80% of Fortune 500 executives are Greek; Every U.S. President, except for three, born since 1825 have been Greek; More than three-fourths of the United States Congress is Greek; Forty of the 47 Supreme Court Justices since 1910 have been Greek; Eighty-five percent of Presidential Cabinet members since 1900 have been Greek; Every U.S. Vice President, except for two, born since 1825 and three Canadian Prime Ministers have been Greek; Of North America’s 50 largest corporations, 43 are headed by Greeks; More than $20 million was contributed to the national philanthropies of the 26 National Panhellenic Conference member sororities between 1990 - 1995. As you see, being a “Catholic” Greek can be very influential in today’s society. Again, as a leader these people can plant seeds or water the flowers that are coming to bloom.
I am so proud be be a now Catholic sister of my sorority! If any person (parent or young adult) has a question about what a fantastic opportunity a Greek organization can be, feel free to contact me.