Greek Organizations Fostering Community and Giving Back

Sororities and fraternities on campus are finding meaningful ways to bring people together, deepen community connections, and be of service to others

Built into the mission statements of Tufts’ fraternities and sororities is a dedication to creating community and helping others. For as long as Greek organizations have been a part of Tufts—which is nearly as long as the university has existed—membership has afforded students the opportunity to convene diverse groups, develop leadership and engagement skills, and serve others, often through philanthropic endeavors.

According to Mary Kate Kelley, who is the advisor for Greek life in the Student Life department for the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, Tufts’ fraternity and sorority leaders have worked hard this year to build relationships with campus partners and community partners to create and grow programs that highlight their mission and core values.

“Each chapter has hosted events that positively impact their community this year,” said Kelley. “It has been great to see how excited the chapters are to host these events and to attend community service events as a Greek life community, like the university’s Day of Service last fall.”

Below are some of the recent ways in which Greek organizations have worked toward fulfilling their missions—and having that positive impact on the Tufts community and beyond.

Jamming in Madie's Memory

For the past three years, The Ivy, a sorority local to Tufts, has run a boisterous lip-syncing contest called Jumbo Jam. The event raises money in support of MN2, a foundation dear to the sorority members’ hearts: it was established in memory of Madie Nicpon, a member who tragically passed away in October 2021.

Giving to the foundation allows The Ivy to contribute to organizations that Nicpon cared deeply about, said Lily Snape, A25, community relations chair for the sorority. Those organizations include Mustard Seed Communities, an international nonprofit that helps underserved and disabled communities, and Donate Life, a group working to increase the number of people willing to donate organs, eyes, and tissues to save and heal lives through transplantation.

Last fall, Jumbo Jam raised nearly $3,000 for MN2. Sports teams, Greek organizations, and other groups on campus gathered on stage to compete in the lip-syncing contest.

“Jumbo Jam is a huge event in which many student-run organizations participate and everyone is super enthusiastic,” Snape said. “It’s not only a great way to raise money for a cause we care about—it’s also a fun opportunity to bring different Tufts organizations together.”

The Ivy is planning another jam for this spring, with funds again slated to go to MN2. Snape noted that Nicpon’s family believes the event is one Nicpon would have loved. “Along with our goal to have an impact on the community, we hope that Jumbo Jam is a place where we can keep Madie’s memory alive in the Tufts community,” she said.

Helping Foster Children—and Putting on a Great Show

Another organization with a focus on philanthropy is Eta Psi, the Tufts chapter of the national sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. Each year, the group organizes a concert to benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a national organization that recruits and trains adult volunteers to advocate in court for children in the foster system.

Last year’s sold-out show raised more than $4,500; over the past three years the event has garnered $19,000.

“Service and leadership are some of the core values of Kappa Alpha Theta and are emphasized in our chapter, as we all complete service hours and are encouraged to pursue leadership positions,” said Caroline Stephens, A25, Eta Psi’s president. “Both of those values are exemplified in the efforts we put into Concert for CASA. It is very special seeing Thetas work together to create something meaningful.”

The meaning is widely felt, as students turn out in droves to see the Concert for CASA performances. As one recent example, during the 2021 show, Public Harmony, a music community service organization on campus, staged a cover of Lorde’s popular single at the time, “Solar Power,” with an ensemble that included a bass guitar, a violin, and a massive chorus backing up the lead vocalist. Several dance groups followed their performance, including BlackOut step team, Tufts Pulse, Tamasha, Tufts Middle Eastern Dance, Tufts Tap, and Encendido. The a capella groups Jackson Jills and the Beezlebubs were also featured.

“We all believe in the missions of CASA and the Theta Foundation,” Stephens noted, “and giving Tufts students a chance to perform is a great bonus.”

Spotlighting Sustainable Leadership

In November 2023, as part of its speaker series, the Delta Upsilon fraternity convened a panel on sustainable leadership in real estate and private equity, featuring Rebecca Bendetson, A13, an associate at the investment firm Fvlcrum Funds; Dan Doherty, H03, a principal at Eastern Real Estate; and Brian Kavoogian, A84, managing partner of the investment firm National Development.

The participants in the Sustainable Leadership in Real Estate and Private Equity panel organized by Delta Upsilon students

The participants on the Sustainable Leadership in Real Estate and Private Equity panel sponsored by Delta Upsilon. (Photo: Courtesy of Delta Upsilon)

The panel was moderated by Jack Derby, professor of the practice at the Derby Entrepreneurship Center, and David Radlo, A86, an expert in sustainable leadership, growth, and innovation. Kavoogian and Doherty are trustees emeriti, and, with Radlo, are all former Delta Upsilon members.

“We are fortunate to have an exceptionally successful and supportive alumni network,” noted Will Duncanson, A25, a co-coordinator for the event. “Collaborating with our alumni, we aimed to create valuable opportunities not only for Delta Upsilon brothers but for the entire student body at Tufts.”

The fraternity’s larger aim, Duncanson added, is to organize philanthropic activities and educational events, with an emphasis on academic achievement, leadership development, and professional networking. “We believe active engagement in campus life fosters personal growth in our undergraduate brothers while also benefiting the Tufts community,” he said.

Additional Support for Mission-Driven Organizations

Other Greek chapters have nonprofits that they help each year and some, like Delta Upsilon, host a signature event.

For example, Zeta Beta Tau supports Gift of Life and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals; Chi Omega, along with Theta Chi, hosts a gala each year for Make a Wish; ATO of Massachusetts hosts a pancake breakfast for the Trevor Project each semester. Thalia works with Rosie’s Place, established in 1974 as the first women’s shelter in the country, and Delta Tau Delta hosts a blood drive as part of their support for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Tufts also has several multicultural organizations that are city-wide chapters, including Beta Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, and Lambda Pi Chi.

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