The blue barracudas, red jaguars and silver snakes have manifested Cornell’s campus — at least for the next week. The University’s annual Greek Week festivities commenced on Wednesday, bringing together chapters of the Greek system for a week of “Legends of the Hidden Temple”-themed competition and inter-fraternal fun.
Participating teams are made up of sororities and fraternities from the Interfraternity Council, the Multicultural Greek Letter Council and the Panhellenic Association. Teams compete in a series of events and earn points for both winning the competitions and for having team members present at the events.
“Greek Week is an opportunity for chapters to get together, have some fun and compete with each other. For competition [participants] are often grouped with people [they have] never met before and it is a great way to learn more about other chapters,” said Alison Ewing ’10, Panhel’s vice president of programming.
Greek Week began with a kickoff party in Trillium on Wednesday, followed by a three-on-three basketball tournament. In three hours, about 950 Greeks attended to sign-in and support their houses, according to the Greek Week Steering Committee.
Emily Barber ’10, a team member, played in the basketball event.
“I decided to participate because I feel that the Greek system is such a beneficial organization on campus and I want to do anything to promote Greek life,” Barber said. “Greek Week is a joint effort amongst all of the houses to show the rest of campus how much fun being in a house can be.”
While Greek Week is dominated by trivia games and athletic competitions, philanthropy plays a major role in the festivities. Throughout the week, all teams participate in a competition to collect the most canned goods for the United Way Campaign. Additionally, on Saturday all teams will work together in Barton Hall to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest relay race. A carnival to benefit the United Way and the children of the Ithaca Community will commence during the race.
IFC Vice President of Programming Jason Georges ’09 said, “Greek Week teams will be working at the event and operating carnival booths such as an inflatable obstacle course, popcorn machine and cotton candy machine to give back to the children of the Ithaca community. Cornell Greeks are breaking a world record, raising money for the United Way and entertaining children of the local community all in one day.”
Altogether in the past academic year, according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the three Greek organizations have spent 15,144 hours performing community service and raised $322,127.
Greek Week is also an opportunity for chapters on campus to make new students aware of the opportunity to rush in the spring.
“Greek Week is an opportunity for the Cornell Community to see Greek students active on campus, particularly in the beginning of the year,” said Kara Miller, assistant dean of students to the OFSA.
“Particularly for the new students, it’s early into the semester and they might not know much about the sorority and fraternity community right from the outset. [Greek Week] will show them some of things that [chapters] value, the community and the partnership of all of the councils working together,” Miller said.
30 percent of Cornell’s student body is involved in the Greek system. However, to those students not involved, Greek Week is unfamiliar territory.
“I don’t really have an opinion on Greek Week,” said Brittany Rosen ’11, who is not involved in Greek life. “I think it’s nice that there is friendly competition between the different Greek houses and it’s helpful to be able to look and see the different organizations and they do good things like the blood drive which is nice, but I wasn’t really aware of the extent of Greek Week as an event.”
“Each chapter can walk away with not only pride for their individual chapters but also pride in the renowned Greek system that we all share as Cornellians,” Georges said.
Greek Week activities are continuing today on Rawlings Green at 3 p.m. for the Greek Olympics and will conclude on Saturday at Barton Hall from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the Greek Week Relay and Carnival.