FSILG&D Community Service Challenge 2012

Story by Kali Xu ’15

Which Greek or residential team will take home the Service Cup as part of this year’s FSILG&D Community Service Challenge?

The second annual MIT FSILG&D Community Service Challenge kicked off on Feb. 15 with a diverse group of teams from fraternities, sororities, independent living groups, and dorms. This year, 22 teams are competing for the coveted Service Cup, including 13 fraternities, all six sororities, one independent living group, one undergraduate dorm, and one graduate dorm.

Throughout the two-month competition period, teams will engage in community service that revolves around a selected social issue theme. Team service activities are well underway — many of the teams have begun their service efforts with Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s largest fundraiser event.

The No. 6 Club team, led by Deema Totah and Nina Jreige, is currently fundraising for Relay for Life by conducting a “Coin Wars Language Challenge.” As a largely international living group, their members are competing in “Coin Wars” between four different language groups: English, Arabic/Turkish, Spanish/Portuguese, and Greek/French/Slavic. Coins donated to a team earn points, while bills result in deductions. Though all of the funds will go toward Relay for Life, the team with the most points will win a say in selecting the charity for No. 6’s upcoming Casino Night fundraiser.

After Relay for Life, No. 6 is conducting an Easter egg hunt event at their house for local children. They are planning on giving out gift bags with children’s books at the end of the egg hunt to tie in with their service theme of education. Later on, they intend to hold the Casino Night fundraiser for an education or literacy-focused nonprofit. No. 6 is the first independent living group team to participate in the Service Challenge.

Nu Delta fraternity held a variety show in The Howard Dining Hall at Maseeh on Feb. 24 to fundraise for Relay for Life. In collaboration with Maseeh Hall, they invited many MIT student group performers, such as the improv comedy troupe Roadkill Buffet, contemporary dance group Fixation, and the MIT Live Music Connection. The event was coordinated by Francisco Pena, Nu Delta’s community service chair, and the previous chair, Kwesi Phillips. By joining efforts with a dorm to again hold the variety show, Nu Delta has made an effort to top last year’s efforts and extend the reaches of their fundraising.

Groups taking part in the Service Challenge have the benefit of exclusive access to Alternative Spring Break (ASB) funding from the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center for team projects. Two sororities, Alpha Phi and Sigma Kappa, are coordinating ASB projects. Alpha Phi’s ASB coordinator, Janet Lin, is planning a trip to New Orleans this spring break. The sisters are partnering with Rebuilding Together New Orleans to build homes in the continuing wake of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction.

“It goes along with our theme of building healthier lives and giving people the chance to stay in a safe environment and live healthy,” says Janet.

Sigma Kappa’s ASB trip is being planned by Amanda David and Alison Sheppard. A group of sisters is traveling to Detroit to work on a renovation project, in conjunction with their service theme of environmental awareness and protection. The philanthropist they are working with is an architect and realtor that purchases old buildings and converts them into affordable city housing.

As the competition ramps up, the teams are all looking to beat the defending Service Cup champions, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE). This year, SAE plans to work with Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, and halfway houses in Roxbury and Dorchester in support of their service theme of living situations for struggling people.

Aaron Thomas and Matias Porras are leading SAE’s team, saying that “service is about getting away from your comfort zone and not only helping the people who need it, but also yourselves.”

The teams have until April 15 to complete service that helps them compete for the title of 2012 Service Cup champions. At the end of the Service Challenge, teams are judged on quantitative results, impact on the community, demonstration of learning, and year-round service.

The Service Cup champions earn a $2,000 award to be used on a service project or an Alternative Spring Break project for next year, a winner’s plaque, and rights to display the Service Cup in their house or dorm for one year. The 2012 awards will be announced on May 2 at a celebration dinner.

The Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center administers the Service Challenge, with support from the 484 Phi Alpha Foundation and the FSILG office.

Read more about students and their public service projects…