Last week, from Sunday, Apr. 3 through Thursday, Apr. 7, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the Panhellenic Council (Panhel) hosted their annual “Greek Week” event. In a series of competitions among all eight Greek life organizations on campus, events consisted of a banner competition, kickball, a photo scavenger hunt, “Greek Feud” and even “Greek Sing.” Fraternity and Sorority Life’s (FSL) patented “Greek Week” was also highlighted by its philanthropic endeavors, known this year as “Penny Wars.”
The charity event consisted of collecting cash, where each penny and dollar resulted in positive point values added for each Greek organization’s teams, while silver coins like nickels, dimes and quarters resulted in point detractions. The group who had the highest point value (not necessarily the most money) at the end won. The purpose was to raise money for the Ashley Hope Foundation in memory of Delta Zeta sister Ashley Goodman, who passed away from cancer in September 2021.
Unlike in previous years, where there were typically partnerships among the organizations, each group was on its own for the 1980s themed festivities. In fact, the 1980s theme for “Greek Week” was decided on by Alex Caban-Echevarria ‘23, the president of Panhellenic Council, and Jack Younes ‘23, the president of IFC, when thinking about the era of music they enjoyed the most.
According to Caban-Echevarria, “For ‘Greek Sing,’ we wanted everyone to have fun with their song choices, so the theme of the ‘80s came from thinking about the music we liked. To pick their songs, we gave chapters random numbers that correlated to a year within the decade, thus specifying our ‘dancing through the ‘80s’ night.”
While the week was jam-packed with creative events like “Greek Sing,” athletic contests like tug-of-war and Family Feud-style trivia games, this past “Greek Week” was extremely difficult to execute. After hosting the event in a hybrid form in 2021, 2022 was back to being fully in-person.
Natalie Shaw, assistant director of student organizations, leadership & engagement, recognizes the difficulties in planning such an exhaustive event and acknowledges the support she received during the process. “There is a lot of time that goes into making ‘Greek Week’ happen and none of it would be possible without the presidents of IFC and Panhel,” said Shaw.
Although communicating with Greek life leadership is complicated on its own, Shaw admits that navigating the varying weather conditions was perhaps the most difficult task. “The hardest event to execute was kickball due to weather constraints. It is the event that every chapter talks about throughout the year, but the weather didn’t look like it would be in our favor. We had to change the schedule three days before the game because of the weather forecast, and I was afraid that we would have to cancel our rain date too,” she said.
While praying that Mother Nature did not interfere with the tentative schedule, Caban-Echevarria was worried about executing the “Greek Sing” event. “The most challenging aspect of ‘Greek Week’ was making the rules for every game and getting out all the information a month before it happened. It felt like a mad dash to finalize everything, while at the same time keeping it all under wraps so it would be a surprise to every chapter,” Caban-Echevarria said.
Despite the unavoidable obstacles that emerged over the week, Shaw and Caban-Echevarria both had an incredible amount of fun and derived a significant amount of joy from raising over $4,000. Specifically, for Caban-Echevarria, it was having the dunk tank brought to campus in honor of $1,000 that proved to be one the most memorable parts of her week. “The most enjoyable moment for me this week was getting in the dunk tank. Although I volunteered, I was nervous to get in, but it ended up being so fun and rewarding,” she said.
Caban-Echevarria was not the only one to be dunked in the cold water on a breezy and cloudy Tuesday afternoon, but Younes along with Zeta Beta Tau President Sam Brown ‘23, IFC Secretary Tom Hiller ‘23 and different students across Greek life also took the plunge.
She may not have volunteered for the tank, but, for Shaw, the overall success of Penny Wars was a defining moment of Greek Week. “Last year, the Greek Week philanthropy was the Dylan Gleason scholarship to celebrate the life of [Delta Tau Delta] DTD brother Dylan. This year, shortly after Ashley passed away, we had an outpouring of requests to honor her,” Shaw said.
And so, after formally choosing to support the foundation and receiving the support of the Goodman family, who offered to match up to $5,000, the competitive spirit of the Greek community came to life. Reflecting upon this, Shaw described the reason for the Penny Wars initiative. “We chose Penny Wars knowing that it is a game that fosters healthy competition that ultimately goes towards a good cause. It is frequently played in education settings, and we believed it was something we could get the entire community involved in because we wanted to outreach to as many facets of campus as possible.”
While immensely proud of Fraternity and Sorority Life’s commitment to philanthropy, Shaw is also proud of the fact that “Greek Week” was also a time to highlight each chapter and acknowledge individual members for their contributions throughout the past year. “One of my favorite moments of the week was ‘Greek Sing!’ It was really important to me that we created an event that was able to highlight what each chapter does throughout the year and I’m proud of what we were able to do during that event. Each chapter was able to share their accomplishments. We got to recognize individual members for their hard work, commitment and dedication to the community,” Shaw said.
Caban-Echevarria, too, is extremely happy that “Greek Week” was able to bring the best out of the community. “‘Greek Week’ has revealed that we are so much stronger when we work together as a community. It was supposed to just be a fun way to celebrate ourselves, but by hearing from community members, it revealed that Greek life left a lasting impression that will carry [through] the rest of the year,” she said.
This certainly rings true across Greek life, as individual chapters recognize that “Greek Week” is not only about having fun but is a means of bringing their organizations closer together. According to Patrick Carmody ‘23, president of Alpha Tau Omega, the winner of Greek Week on behalf of IFC, this past week’s events had a profound impact in that regard. “I think this week really helped us all come together, not only to participate and have fun but also to raise money for a good cause. AEPi trumped us by raising the most money and a really great job to them, but we put forth our best effort and got on each other to raise money which helped create a unified front for the Ashley Hope Foundation. I think morale at ATO is near an all time high and ‘Greek Week’ had a large part to play in it,” he said.
Similarly, for Delta Zeta, the campaign for the Ashley Hope Foundation had a profound impact on the entire sorority. President of DZ, Emily Kolodney ‘24 spoke to this saying, “Ashley Hope Goodman is always in our hearts and she brings us together in all cases, but especially in this case because we were raising money to support her foundation. As much as we loved the competition and different events, the most important part for DZ was raising money to support Ashley Hope.”
Despite still recovering from having to count thousands of pennies, Shaw is nonetheless thankful for outlets like “Greek Week” as it enables her to continue fostering relationships with each member of the Greek life community.
“One of my favorite parts of my job is the people I get to do it with — all of you! Despite the long nights, ‘Greek Week’ is one of the only times of the year where I get to consistently interact with the community in a more natural environment outside of my office. There’s (roughly) 340 members of the Fraternity and Sorority Life community so I’m always looking for ways to get to know everyone and connect on an individual basis,” Shaw said.