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Mar

01 2012

FEATURE

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6

WANTED: MALE VOLUNTEERS

Community service on campus dominated by female students

Kappa Alpha Theta’s upcoming philanthropy event, Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew, sparks an examination of gender roles in volunteer culture. Crews: Step One, Dance Team and Chipolopolo Photo by McCormick

Greeks take varied approaches to service by PATRICIA VANDERBILT Editor-in-Chief

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hilanthropy in Whitman’s Greek organizations runs the gamut from Mr. Whitman, to stream restoration and dog walking with the local animal shelter. Greek groups participate in philanthropy as a way to work together and give back to the community, and the group dynamic of Greek organizations motivates sorority and fraternity members to turn up and fill a need they see in the community. Though fraternity and sorority members both enjoy working together for a good cause, the

“We try to do fun things so it’s not just busy work—like dog walking.” Daniel Zajic ’14

scale of Greek group philanthropy tends to vary on gendered lines. Sophomore Daniel Zajic, philanthropy chair for the Sigma Chi fraternity, organizes small philanthropy events that the Sigs do with a variety of local organizations. “I love doing community service. For others, they just like giving back. We try to do fun things so it’s not just busy work—like dog walking; everyone loves dogs,” said Zajic.

Sigma Chi hosts an annual wine auction during family weekend each fall. Funds raised for next year’s event will benefit Helpline of Walla Walla. Sophomore Sara Graham, meanwhile, will be organizing next year’s Mr. Whitman event for Kappa Kappa Gamma—undoubtedly the largest charity fundraising event (Greek or independent) that occurs on campus each year. Last fall, Mr. Whitman raised $30,000 for Blue Mountain Heart to Heart; in 2010 the event raised a record $50,000 for the Chris Elliot fund. Part of Mr. Whitman’s success is its incorporation of many different campus groups. The event is a pageant-esque competition between eight men (four Greek, four independent), each of whom are charged with the task of raising thousands of dollars. “Choosing the guys is kind of the face, definitely,” Graham said. “They represent different groups on campus, you access different groups in that way, independent people have different friends. You’re getting more people, because everyone knows different people than us going out to the people we know. It’s kind of a spidering effect.” According to Graham, Mr. Whitman’s use of contestants from many campus groups, as well as its reputation as a fun and entertaining event, makes the pageant a successful signature philanthropy

that the Kappas are known for. “None of [other Greek groups’] philanthropy is in your face, it’s not encompassing the student body in the same way,” Graham said. “You don’t hear about it, and know that they do it as much. It’s philanthropy not involving the student body, so you don’t hear about it.” This year, the women of Kappa Alpha Theta are expanding their own signature philanthropy event with the newly re-named Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew, previously known as Cakes for CASA: Whitman’s Best Dance Crew. “I definitely think that both of the groups, the sororities and fraternities, do think that philanthropy is very important. On campus, the major events have been by Kappa, and I think that this year the Thetas are trying to step that up with Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew,” said sophomore Shelley Stephan, president of Kappa Alpha Theta. Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew will include a variety of Whitman dancers as well as dance groups from Walla Walla. [For more on Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew, see “Thetas open charity dance competition to local teams,” page 2] Stephan said that a largescale philanthropy event would allow the Thetas more success in raising awareness about CourtAppointed Special Advocates,

Theta’s national philanthropy. “It helps us create a more significant impact,” she said. “By expanding it, it creates a signature event for people to look forward to and contribute to.” The large events that Thetas and Kappas work to organize each year create an association between the sororities and philanthropy that isn’t necessarily present in fraternities’

“It’s something that we see we need to do, instead of something we need to show off.” Wataru Takagi ’13

reputations. Junior Wataru Takagi, philanthropy chair for Phi Delta Theta, discussed the Phis’ attitude towards their own philanthropy. “I think [philanthropy is] something that we ourselves take part in, and take pride in, but it’s not something that would be known by the community. It’s not something that we place emphasis on, it’s something that we see we need to do, instead of something we need to show off,” said Takagi. The Phis routinely participate in stream restoration, Adopt-aGrandparent, the Storytime Project and the mentoring program. They recently completed their large

philanthropy event: a food drive for Blue Mountain Action Council’s food distribution warehouse in which they collected 691 pounds of food. The women of Delta Gamma also take a more internal approach to their philanthropy. “The philanthropy that the Alpha Eta chapter of Delta Gamma participates in on the Whitman campus is quite different than any other Greek group in that we do not do one big event, but rather our girls are active in many activities ranging from making quilts every weekend which we send to the school of the blind and odd fellows, to leaf raking, to anchor drive, and many more,” said sophomore Sarah Anderegg, Vice President of Foundation for Delta Gamma in an email. According to Zajic and Takagi, fraternity philanthropy is fulfilling for its participants and makes a difference without needing to incorporate outside groups. “With the fraternities, I feel like if we make it into a big event, then it’s not as meaningful because people will take it as, oh, they’re just trying to make themselves look better. It doesn’t serve the exact purpose of philanthropy,” Takagi said. “[Philanthropy] is just a great way to expand to the community and show that the Greek system isn’t just for partying or something like that. It’s something more substantial.”

Community service among men lackluster, in line with current national college trend by KINSEY WHITE Staff Reporter

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From top left: Members of past winning crew, River Rince practice for Friday’s WWBDC along with crews Generation EZBake and Step One. Photo by McCormick

ationwide, male college students volunteer within their respective communities in disproportionately low rates compared to their female peers, according to a recent article written in the Chronicle of Higher Education. This trend has also become apparent in the Whitman community over the past decade. While involvement in other forms of public service such as campus government is high among men (the last six presidents of ASWC have been male), the male to female ratio in Whitman’s most prominent volunteer programs is lackluster. The Whitman Mentor Program is composed of 31 percent males, Adopt-A-Grandparent 11 percent, College Coaches 12 percent, Story Time 22 percent and service trips 28 percent. “We are always looking to recruit more male volunteers. I’m not sure the men on our campus realize that they have an opportunity to make a significant impact in our community,” said Kelsie Butts, community service coordinator interim. “Many of our programs work with students who are looking [for] and needing a positive, stable male role model in their life. Whitman males can fill that void for them and have the opportunity to really make a difference in a child’s life.” Senior Noah Lerner coordinates the Whitman Mentor Program along with Mollee Huisanga. This popular volunteering opportunity on campus pairs Whitman students with at-risk elementary school students. Lerner, who came to Whitman four years ago owing 35 hours of community

service due to a speeding ticket, said he was “hooked” as soon as he began volunteering at Whitman. “I find volunteer work to be really rewarding. I wish more men could experience that!” said Lerner. “There aren’t nearly enough men involved in volunteering on campus. I wish they’d just try it out more. Most guys who join the program find they love it, and I know there are tons of ways to volunteer in the community that guys could get really into.” Although Lerner cannot identify a specific reason for the lack of male representation within these programs, he says he believes many males fail to take the time to investigate volunteering opportunities on campus. Assistant Dean for Student Engagement, Noah Leavitt, who oversees the Student Engagement Center finds volunteering in general to be stereotyped nationwide as an activity that attracts more females than males, a commonly held belief he doesn’t believe holds true at all despite the stigma. “Most volunteer opportunities that Whitman provides, and most volunteer positions in society in general, involve interpersonal work—face-to-face interactions with other people in American society, that kind of work has historically been expected of, carried out by and therefore further expected by, women,” said Leavitt. “However, I am always hopeful that Whitman’s volunteer and community service projects will be of interest to men . . . I know many male Whitman students who are indeed caring and compassionate, and I would love to see them bring these wonderful aspects of their identities to the wider world,” he added. Over the past three years,

there has been a male intern in the Community Service Office, a shift which has increased male volunteerism at Whitman, also paralleled with an increase in male volunteers within the Greek system. Many Whitman males have also come to volunteer through their sports teams and other student organizations. Leavitt hopes that the new Teaching the Movement initiative project will continue to hold a fairly-balanced gender ratio

“I find volunteer work to be really rewarding. I wish more men could experience that!” Noah Lerner ’12

for volunteers. This new opportunity for males to volunteer on campus has seen a greater turn out of men than within the other programs the Community Service Office runs. “[Whitman Teaches the Movement] was a short, high energy but low commitment program that allowed me to engage in something I was passionate about without having to be attached to a long-term weekly activity with lots of meetings and little action. I went to trainings, met with my co-teacher, and then taught my class— it was that simple,” said senior and WTTM volunteer, Jackson Bellaimey. “I hope that WTTM can keep attracting a wide array of volunteers, but I worry it will be harder next year without the initial excitement that surrounds a pilot program like this,” he said. “Volunteering is part of your civic duty! Spend a few hours a week trying to make someone else’s life easier, and you’re helping to change the world for the better,” said Lerner.


Whitman Pioneer Spring 2012 Issue 6 Feature