Western Michigan University Greek Life working to change stereotypes

Sororities and fraternities like Sigma Kappa participate in many acts of philanthropy in addition to working with many different organizations on campus in order to benefit the community and the greater Kalamazoo area, Peltier explained.

“When people ask me about Greek Life, it’s not the same thing as you see in the movies or on TV,” Peltier said. “We may still have that negative stereotype on campus, but we are doing a lot of good. We don’t do anything to deserve the stereotype and I think we reflect well on Western for that reason.”

WMU Greek Life is not entirely scandal-free. In 2010, an 18-year-old Portland woman was critically injured after a two-story fall at a party thrown at the Sigma Pi house. The fraternity was subsequently suspended, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

“In my opinion, that’s the media. The media is going to eat up all the stories of negativity and bad things that go on in Greek Life,” Darryn Taylor, philanthropy chair of Pi Kappa Phi, said. Taylor believes the media doesn’t have an interest in the positive aspects of Greek Life. Pi Kappa Phi could raise $200,000 for charity and Taylor thinks the media won’t report on it.

Pi Kappa Phi’s most recent charity event was called Spread the Word to End the Word. For this event, fraternity members rode stationary bicycles at the campus flagpoles for 48 hours to raise donations and awareness for people with disabilities.

Pi Kappa Phi also partners with the organization Best Buddies, which assigns fraternity brothers with individuals in the Kalamazoo community who have disabilities. Taylor’s personal buddy, Jonnie Angeletti, joined the fraternity at the Spread the Word to End the Word event. Taylor has been partnered with Angeletti for over a year and has taught Angeletti archery and how to swim.

“Obviously, one event is not going to remove the stereotype,” Taylor said. “But if we do enough of this and enough sororities and fraternities get involved, and we just keep doing what we’re doing by giving back to the community, things could really change.”

In addition to philanthropy, Greek organizations at WMU also have events and resources to prevent incidents that invite negative headlines.

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