Greek life at any school tends to fall into one of two categories: social or service. Kenyon’s Greek organizations largely fall under the social category. Larger-scale philanthropic outlets sponsored by Greek organizations are few and far between on campus. In my experience, the student body typically does not expect Greek organizations to give back to the community more than all-campus parties and one or two trademark events. This sets the bar too low. The influence and reach that Greek chapters can wield gives them the ability to mobilize and utilize a larger percentage of the student body than other groups may be able to. As a brother of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity (ADs), I understand that Greek organizations have a large amount of privilege and influence in student social life at Kenyon. They could — and should be expected to — use that power to support the campus community more, especially through larger-scale events that involve the campus and student body as a whole.
While Greek organizations on campus engage in direct philanthropy already, such as the Red Cross blood drive run by the brothers of Delta Tau Delta, there is a lot of room for expansion and diversification. Organizations have the ability to set up and host a food and clothing drive, for example, or perhaps an event for making cat toys to send to a shelter like Shady Owl Ranch in Knox County. This direct support provides more immediate relief than monetary donations. While events like these are less “fun” than other ways of giving back, they provide important services and resources for those in need and help continue the process of transforming Greek life from exclusive social clubs into inclusive community-focused groups.
Direct philanthropy is not the only way Greek organizations can give back. Campus life is brightened by events like the biannual dog parade organized and run by the sisters of Epsilon Delta Mu as well as the Turkey Trot 3K run put together by the brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon and the sisters of Theta Delta Pi. These events foster a sense of community that anyone can participate in while raising funds for the causes they support. These events feel more like special occasions due to their low frequency, however. Other Greek organizations that spend less time in the spotlight should take a step in that direction by working to put together their own community events. For example, a Greek organization could work to set up an intramural sports tournament, with teams paying a small fee for entry. Alternatively, fraternities could use the privilege of their additional buildings and other spaces to host contributions such as late-night breakfasts or concerts. Not only would a higher number of these contributions result in more awareness and funding for charitable causes, it would help to build upon camaraderie and shared community on campus.
With the reach and connections that Greek organizations possess, they should use these abilities to conduct campaigns to raise awareness about societal issues and educate students on what they can do to get involved. Organizations like New Directions, a shelter in Knox County that provides support for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, have already collaborated with Greek life in the past. Recently, the ADs hosted representatives from New Directions for a workshop revolving around relationship and breakup etiquette and bystander intervention. These workshops could be opened to the campus community and mediated by New Directions and members of the collaborating organization. Greek organizations can also utilize and collaborate with various on-campus groups from Unity House to the Environmental Campus Organization (ECO). Through such partnerships, they can promote more expansive causes that directly impact student life on campus and thus play a central role in creating a more inclusive and aware culture at Kenyon.
Greek organizations wield significant privilege and influence, but that privilege should not outweigh their obligations to give back to the campus community. Through a diverse range of philanthropic, educational and community events, they can create a long-lasting legacy at Kenyon that ensures a positive impact on the community and brings the entire student body closer together.
Austin Vaughan ’26 is a Psychology and English major with a concentration in Creative Writing from Cincinnati. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.