USF students defend campus Greek life for charity, social benefits

Greek life USF

As the investigation continues into the recent death of a fraternity pledge near the Florida State University campus, students at other schools are watching closely.

They’re wondering, how it might ultimately affect Greek Life on other campuses.

Already, FSU’s President has suspended all Greek Life activity until the fraternity and sorority system can create a “new culture”.

At the University of South Florida, students are observing National hazing prevention week. But if you ask many who haven't gone Greek what fraternities and sororities are all about, it often sounds pretty unflattering.

“I mean, I hear that they party a lot,” said USF Senior Sandy Winne.

“Beer, drinking,” said Chemistry student Eduardo Santamaria.

“Drinking, drugs, sex. The usual,” said undergrad Ariel Tyson.

Now there’s increasing pressure to change what many clearly perceive as a problem within the Greek Life system.

“I want to send a message that we've got a serious problem. And we need to deal with it,” said FSU President John Thrasher.

Still, frat guys and sorority girls at USF in Tampa say putting an end to sorority and fraternity life on campus wouldn't just affect them, it would hurt the charitable organizations they collect millions for each year.

“Um, last year we raised $80,000 for Prevent Child Abuse America,” Dallas Smith said proudly of her sorority’s fundraising efforts.

It is estimated Greek-Life undergrads give about 850,000 volunteer hours each year, raising about $7million for charities.

“It's not really that kind of wild insane environment that you see in movies and stuff,” said fraternity member Brendon Green.

Part of the Greek Life stigma also includes hazing.

On Wednesday, the student affairs department at the University of South Florida had students filling out a voluntary pledge not to haze anyone, and to let somebody know if they or someone they know is being hazed.

“We are hoping to give students tools on how we can fight this fight and win this battle,” said Mabir McCoy, who was helping students fill o0ut their pledge forms.

Students say belonging to a fraternity or sorority has also helped them forge important relationships and social skills. 

“It's just so many opportunities, like leadership roles, future job opportunities,” said sorority member Alayna Constantine, “You get to know so many people from it.”

A recent study from the University of Missouri also found there’s good in going Greek.

Students were more apt to become involved in the community, gain financial success, and give more generously to their alma maters. 

All, qualities that Greek Life students hoped school administrators would consider before painting the entire system with a broad brush. 

“We really are here to try to make a positive difference. We try to be leaders,” said frat pledge Daniel Mangiefico. “We try to further ourselves and the people around us.”

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