When you ask someone to define “sustainability” you get answers ranging from recycling to those that seem to have come from Dr. Vandana Shiva herself. In the three months that I have been working with the Office of Sustainability, my definition of sustainability has changed multiple times but always includes positive relationships and the process of building them. Some could say that sustainability is the synergistic relationships between individuals, between organizations, between natural ecosystems, and between each other to ensure a better tomorrow.
In September 2012, I was initiated into Kappa Alpha Theta, a Greek letter women’s fraternity that is a part of the National Panhellentic Council. Being a part of Theta has been a life changing experience and has not only given me sisters that I can count on, but it has given me the opportunity to learn and grow in my values as a young woman.
Greek life has gained a pretty strong reputation over the years and is part of almost every college campus in the United States. This type of community that serves multiple campuses and holds a strong presence on those campuses (20% at CofC) is a community that is able to make an impact. As someone involved with the Greek Life community here, I am confident in saying that we all share core values close to our hearts and truly strive to be the best we can. Historically Greeks hold higher GPAs, participate more on campus and many have gone on to be quite successful. (44% of U.S. Presidents & 76% of congressmen & senators have been Greek.)
This desire to get involved with the campus community is something that is essential to sustainability. Thanks to two determined members of the Panhellenic council, in the fall of 2012 the Office of Sustainability launched the sustainable Greek chair initiative with a handful of representatives from organizations on campus. Since then, the program has grown and now includes 21 members from 13 organizations. Every other week we hold a meeting for the chairs where they learn about a new aspect of sustainability and the ways that they can educate their chapters. We also have been working toward holding events with the Greek Life Office in hopes of strengthening the relationship between the two offices. Our first event was held Monday April 7th, a kick-off event for both Sustainability Week and Greek Week. Not only was this the first event to be co-hosted by the two offices, but the turn out and interest was incredible! While we did have to move venues due to inclement weather, I am very happy with the way the whole thing played out.
In a way Greek Life is the perfect example of what sustainability is; it is many synergistic relationships working together (within chapters and among organizations) to create something bigger than an individual and something that strives to impact the future. Greek life is a living organism just like a human and just like the entire College of Charleston campus. I believe that this is the start of a beautiful and sustainable friendship between the Office of Sustainability and Greek Life.