SAM and Pi Phi raise thousands for Haiti

Allison Bischoff

Sigma Alpha Mu and Pi Beta Phi won a Washington University Interfraternity Council and Women’s Panhellenic Association competition in February to raise money for Haiti. Each fraternity and sorority had six days to raise as much money as possible for the nonprofit group Partners in Health. SAM triumphed over all the other fraternities by raising $2,000 selling purple Haiti bracelets. Pi Phi raised $1,230 selling T-shirts with the logo “Halos Over Haiti” to the sorority’s members.

The IFC and WPA gave the fraternities and sororities complete creative control over how they could raise money for this philanthropic endeavor. The competition began Jan. 24, and all the money had to be turned in by Feb. 1.

Sophomore Chandler Ronchetti, Pi Phi’s vice president of philanthropy, designed the T-shirts, which were inspired by the sorority’s unofficial angel mascot; they were sold only within the sorority for $10. Pi Phi sought donations from local St. Louis businesses, including Fitz’s, and student-run businesses such as Wydown Water. Each business that donated at least $100 had its logo put on the back of the shirts; a total of eight businesses donated money that went directly to Partners in Health.

Pi Phi President Natalie Evans is proud of the sorority’s initiative in branching outside the Wash. U. community and developing relationships with future partners in other altruistic activities. Pi Phi also wanted to demonstrate to its new members and the whole Wash. U. community that Greek life is more than just partying and crafting a social network. The current members strive to foster a community of character education and, in particular, emphasize the importance of philanthropy within the Greek community.

SAM, a fraternity that has suffered some setbacks in the past year, took advantage of the “Live Strong” bracelet fad and designed purple bracelets with the logo “Help Haiti.” SAM set up camp in the Danforth University Center and Upper South 40 House during the competition week. The fraternity sold approximately 400 bracelets, suggesting a donation of $5. Like Pi Phi, SAM is dedicated to the philanthropic aspect of Greek Life. President Adam Savaglio wants to construct a “culture of accountability” and revamp the philanthropy chair position by hosting events at least once a semester.

Last year, when they lost their housing privileges, SAM’s members had to decide to salvage the charter and come together as a brotherhood ready to rebuild the fraternity through both academic and philanthropic success; returning brothers moved into apartments off campus as to not further fracture the brotherhood.

Sophomore Austin Ekaireb, this year’s philanthropy chair, is a key figure in getting members and new pledges involved in fundraising activities, like Relay For Life and ThurtenE, the Greek-run carnival in April. SAM has also completely restructured its internal judicial system by creating a standards board and an alumni council that is actively involved in the day-to-day fraternity life. Though the transition from on-campus housing to off campus strained the fraternity, it has motivated the brothers to implement a “change of culture,” educating members on SAM’s new philosophy and expectations.

“Fixing our relationship with the University and building a better rapport with the St. Louis community is of the utmost importance,” Ekaireb said.

The IFC competition was just one step in SAM’s rebirth process. Not only did the fraternity contribute to the Haiti relief, but it also made strides in its objective of transforming its image.

SAM is motivated to continue its philanthropic work for the tangible goal of receiving housing privileges and assembling a brotherhood of conscientious and concerned gentlemen.

“We have the academic success,” said Savaglio, referring to how the fraternity has the highest Greek academic GPA, “but now we need to focus on humanitarian work.”

Fraternities and sororities have the unique opportunity to get involved with communities in St. Louis and even as far as Haiti due to their strong, organized and motivated band of brothers and sisters. Pi Phi and SAM are continuing their involvement with Partners in Health by having a second sale of their winning fundraising creations. The second sale of the T-shirts and bracelets will raise more money for donation and get the new pledge classes immediately involved in philanthropic work. The whole Greek community plans to continue working on relations within Wash. U. and Greater St. Louis, spreading an altruistic philosophy and being a role model for all Wash. U. students.

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