Courtesy of Christopher Hanna

The Alpha Xi Delta house on North Campus lights up its property to raise awareness for those with autism.

April 21, 2016

Greek Houses ‘Light It Up Blue’ for Autism Awareness

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Alpha Xi Delta and Theta Delta Chi are partnering to raise awareness for autism by encouraging Greek houses to “light it up blue,” according to organizers Lauren Clay ’17, Alpha Xi Delta Vice President of Philanthropy, and Christopher Hanna ’18, Theta Delta Chi Philanthropy Chair.

“Lighting it up blue around Cornell follows the tradition of landmarks and houses lighting it up blue across the globe for Autism Awareness Month in April,” Clay said. “We have offered every chapter blue tinted light bulbs and or a ‘Light it Up Blue’ yard sign to display at their houses.”

Alpha Xi Delta will also host fundraisers — including bake sales and its annual ‘Chill by the Grill’ barbecue — to raise money for autism research, according to Clay.

In addition to displaying the lights, some Greek organizations are engaging in community dialogue about autism.

“By discussing autism at our chapter meetings and in other casual forums, we have been able to reduce stigmas, answer questions and grow our support for individuals with autism as a community,” said Ayah Dweik ’17, president of the Delta Gamma sorority.

Greek leaders decided to adopt the ‘light it up blue’ initiative to increase Greek involvement in autism awareness, according to Hanna.

“The chapters organizing this campaign believe that Greek community has a duty to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination,” Hanna said.

Dweik added that Greek organizations have the potential to change campus dialogue about autism because of their “unique” position in the Cornell community.

“Although a majority of the student body is unaffiliated with a Greek organization, fraternities and sororities have a unique stake in influencing social norms and the social culture on campus, and we want that influence to be extremely positive,” Dweik said.

Dweik said she hopes campus conversation around autism will improve after the Greek houses hold dialogues and ‘light up in blue.’

“We are not only showing our support for individuals with autism, but we are working to make discussions about autism more common and socially accepted,” she said. “It’s been an interesting opportunity for me to learn more about autism and I have really appreciated seeing my sisterhood grow through our discussions.”

Phi Sigma Sigma, Kappa Delta, Pi Beta Phi and Phi Gamma Delta are also participating in raising awareness for autism, according to Hanna.