The word “fraternity” is almost always associated with violence.

But despite the reputation, University-accredited fraternities and sororities constantly prove the notion wrong through activities that aim to build better and closer-knit communities outside the school.

From painting houses to visiting penal institutions, these organizations often engage in programs that reach to those that have less privileges and opportunities in life, rather than the conflicts they are known for.

Lending a helping hand

According to Arrianne James Javate, president of Student Organization Coordinating Council (SOCC), fraternities and sororities participate in their outreach programs on their own initiatives.

Fraternities and sororities usually join the Makibata, an adopt-a-child program led by the SOCC, where they get to spend a day and night with a child assigned to each of them.

But are they doing it because they want to or because they need to?

One of the accreditation requirements of fraternities and sororities is to have at least one outreach program a year. They could either join other organizations, like the SOCC, or do it alone.

According to Cresencio Doma, Student Welfare Development Board director, it is a part of the University’s mission-vision to involve fraternities and sororities in community extensions and development programs.

The Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity, the only accredited fraternity, which is University-wide, has been joining the Makibata ever since the program’s inception. It also volunteers in marshalling big events in the University like Paskuhan and the Mr. and Ms. Ideal Thomasian Personality pageant.

“The organization is required to come up with a community extension program para maging bahagi yun ng formation na ginagawa natin sa mga students, which is pagbibigay ng sarili sa community,” Doma said.

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Maria Gerda Opague, APO scribe, said that APO does not conduct outreach programs only for the purpose of accreditation contrary to what other people believe. She pointed out that one of the principles of their organization is to conduct service-oriented activities.

Doma affirmed that fraternities can really contribute a lot in activities along the area of community extension or development programs.

Local fraternities and sororities

Aside from APO, there are college-based fraternities and sororities that conduct their own outreach programs, and most of them come from the Faculties of Civil Law, and Medicine and Surgery.

According to Reyben Abrenica, former master initiator of Civil Law’s Ordo Luminis Legis confraternity, aside from the accreditation, there is a personal satisfaction in helping other people.

“After school, yung mga tinutulungan mo rin ang makikita mo, and as future lawyers most of your work will be helping people,” he said.

Fraternity and sorority principles seem to play a great factor for these organizations to reach out. Almost every fraternity and sorority pledges in its constitution and by-laws to help people who are in need.

“The organization has always endeavored to conduct activities where members could contribute to develop a concerned society,” said Catherine Mesuelo, former supreme lady archon of Civil Law’s Lex Aequitas (Lex) sorority. She said the Lex Constitution recognizes, promotes, and declares the duty to give, and not merely take, in the spirit of compassion.

Consistent with the principle of their fraternity, some members of the Aegis Juris fraternity helped build houses for the Habitat for Humanity program in Taguig in the summer of 2001.

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Meanwhile, the Suprema Lex Fraternity held a basketball tournament in Camp Aguinaldo last summer in an effort to provide youth with a more worthwhile summer sports activity.

Sometimes outreach programs are held as part of their anniversary celebrations. Last year, Astrea Law sorority dedicated one day of its weeklong foundation celebation visiting Bahay ni Maria, a home for the aged, in Carmona, Cavite.

Law fraternities and sororities also usually conduct legal aid clinics.

In the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, fraternities conduct medical missions, with either minor or major surgeries, across the country.

This year, the Zeta Beta Mu (ZBM) fraternity had a medical mission in Tawi-tawi. According to Darwin Salonga, ZBM patrix, their fraternity recognizes the limited resources of some people from around the country.

“It is through these activities that we can reach their hands,” he said. “And we are making difference.”

Meanwhile, the Sigma Beta Tau fraternity, aware of the present situation of the country’s health care delivery system, sponsors and provides medical services to poor families.

“It is a known fact that not all Filipinos have access to and can afford basic medical services,” said Oliver Loriega Arquero, Sigma Beta Tau’s first vice-grand Titan. “ Through these activities, we are not only fulfilling our duties as doctors but we are also exposed to present situation and consequently effect change.”

Wrong notion

Fraternities and sororities continue to conduct community development programs despite the negative light shed on them. “The stereotypical notion about fratenities is that they are troublemakers,” Javate said. “But fraternity brawls are isolated cases.”

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Xialeemar Valdeavilla, Central Student Council president, pointed out that students usually see fraternities and sororities as troublemakers because some of them give off that impression. She pointed out, however, that people should not generalize since there are still those who would rather help than create trouble.

“There are other fraternities na mababait; masyado lang gine-generalize [as troublemakers], pero di dapat nilalahat,” she said.

Doma expressed hopes that through outreach programs, fraternities and sororities could “tie up and promote peace, understanding and cooperation.” He added that these can be a venue to unite and work together instead of building conflicts.

As accredited organizations, not only do fraternities and sororities have responsibilities within the University. Outside, the real world awaits their service. By reaching out, fraternities and sororities are only immersing themselves in the real world by helping those who are burdened. Angelo C. de Alban

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