Greek Week focuses on collaboration

Under the beating waves of the sun, troops of twelve marched into the freshly raked pit of sloshing mud to face each other across a hot pink marked rope and square of caution tape.

Hands worked fast to wrap and fasten the sopping towels to the rope and then waited tensed for the sound of the horn that initiates the competition.

So maybe Tug, the first event of Greek Week, wasn’t quite as epic as the Illiad’s Achilles-Hector face-off, but that’s not to say the two didn’t share a few similarities. Just like that battle, this opening event signaled the beginning of the success of a unified Greek effort.

Unified seems to be the imperative term during this week of fierce but amiable competitions, especially this year, which has proven to be the most widely participated in and integrated week yet.

“Our goal was to make it easy and fun to try to encourage all Greeks to compete,” said Mary Piantadosi, fourth-year INTA and one of the overall chairs of the week, “and now we have a Greek Week where all fraternities and sororities regardless of affiliation can come together and compete for fun.”

This year’s Greek Week has undergone several changes from that of previous years. For instance, the duration has decreased from its former ten days to its original week-long time frame, and two new events, corn hole and a donut eating contest, have been added.

In addition to these minor changes, many of the modifications from previous years have “geared around increasing participation,” said JD Ingraham, third-year AE and logistics chairman for the week.

One of these type of alterations includes a new prize category, the “Greek Cup,” which Ingraham said “is comprised of spirit points, excellence in a few select even points, and the willingness to work with other chapters for the larger events.” These independent score evaluations facilitate collaboration between chapters, the executive committee’s main focus for the week. Kyle Taylor, fourth-year ARCH and the other overall chair, explained that the Cup “makes it easier for our chapters in all four Greek Councils that have limited resources to still compete on the same level as our chapters that have a larger membership and/or budgets.”

These efforts in making Greek Week open to every member of the Greek Community seem to have proven fruitful, for participation in the events is way up this year, especially for chapters who in the past have been less involved with it.

“Never have we had so many fraternities participating in all the events,” said the technology chair, Kris Jurgowsky, fourth-year CS, “and although it creates quite a challenge for the executive board, we are all thrilled to witness the unity of Georgia Tech’s Greek life.” Bridgette Krauter, the events chair and a third-year IE, agrees that the increased participation “makes for a very successful Greek Week.”

As ironic as the unification theme may at first appear for a week dominated by competition the main objective for the week is for members of different fraternities and sororities to realize their similarities rather than their differences. “When chapters meet members from other chapters they realize how similar they are to each other and are less likely to have the blanket stereotypes of the other houses,” said the fraternity philanthropy chair, Memphis Geisert, fifth-year PTFE.

In fact, Geisert’s position represents one aspect of Greek chapters that they already have in common: philanthropy. This year Geisert and his sorority counterpart, McCall King, third-year IAML are focusing on two larger philanthropies, Tech Beautification Day and Relay for Life.

One problem with hosting these two big events was the lowered participation or perhaps exclusion of smaller philanthropic concerns, but the chairs were not discouraged. “We have tried to have this remedied by a display of the philanthropies that each Greek organization supports on Skiles walkway,” Geisert said.

Philanthropies are only one way the Greek community tries to give back to Tech.

“We are always appreciative of our faculty and staff members that help us out each year,” Taylor said, and the executive committee has taken some great steps to show it.

This year, in addition to the creation of an Alumni/Faculty committee to aid the planning process, there will be an alumni/faculty banquet to show the committee’s and all the participants’ appreciation for the help and support they received.

“We could not have Greek Week without the support of our amazing faculty, staff, and alumni,” Piantadosi said.

More than ever, this year’s executive committee has committed to reveal that Greek Week is a time for the Greek community to celebrate being Greek, but also to show its positive impact on campus life.

“I hope this week reaches out to the non-affiliated students and shows them that Greek life is not about drinking and paying for friends, but about the networking and positive involvement on campus and beyond,” Jurgowski said.

Piantadosi summed up the goals of the event with “Everyone gets something different out of Georgia Tech Greek Life, and Greek Week is a chance for individuals to come together within their respective chapters as one cohesive unit: a strong, passionate, unique group of students that cannot be found at any other school in the country.”