A Greek Accent at The Prouty

Dartmouth's fraternities and sororities play a big part in the success each year of The Prouty.

Could it be a dream?

Focus article photo

Members of Dartmouth College fraternities and sororities cheer on their friends at this year's Prouty. (Photo courtesy Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center.)

Prouty Day in 2012 is cloudy, hot, and humid, stuffy and sticky enough to meld t-shirts to bare skin—but there, just ahead, beneath an elegant shade tree in front of an equally elegant house, is a table covered with cups and a tub of cold, refreshing, heat-dashing icy water. Plates of cookies nestle alongside. But what—or who, actually—truly catches the attention are the two women, Jennifer and Anna, seated behind the table, greeting tired, sweaty Prouty walkers with smiles, laughs, and full cups of cheer. Their friend Nina sits nearby; she's wearing wings, scarves, and sparkles—she's the water fairy.

This is actually an official Prouty water stop—Jennifer wears a volunteer's green vest—and it's in front of the Kappa Delta Epsilon (KDE) sorority house on Webster Street, almost directly across the street from the home of the president of Dartmouth College. "It's one of the best jobs ever," says Jennifer as she tries to cajole a little girl, who is walking the Prouty with her mom, to take a cookie. "We look forward to this all year. I'll bet for some of these Prouty walkers, water never tasted so good."

Or looked so good, for that matter. When was the last time anyone got served a cup of thirst-quenching refreshment by a sparkly, be-scarved water fairy?

$100,000 of fun

But the water stop is just the tip of KDE's involvement in The Prouty. While a total eight KDE sisters ran the stop in front of the house, another four sisters biked The Prouty and 14 walked. Collectively as of late July, they had raised more than $4,300 to support cancer research and patient support services at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, the beneficiary of The Prouty.

And KDE is just the tip of the involvement by Dartmouth College's various sororities and fraternities in The Prouty. Due in part to the College's requirement that students spend the summer following their sophomore year on campus, the Greeks at Dartmouth are more active in summer than most Greeks at other colleges and universities, and a great deal of Greek summer fun at Dartmouth focuses on The Prouty. In 2012, a total eight sororities and 15 fraternities participated, and together they raised more than $100,000 for the Cancer Center as of late July. (Final totals are not counted until August 1.)

"It's pretty astonishing," describes Mark Andriola, coordinator of Prouty volunteers for Dartmouth Greeks and team leader of the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity's Prouty participants. "We had more than 200 students involved, and the thing to remember is that these were all sophomores. It was great participation." He says that the "vast majority" of Greeks at Dartmouth sent five or more volunteers to The Prouty. "A lot of people don't realize that our involvement isn't just the biking, walking, and rowing, it's doing things like helping move stuff back into storage on the Monday after the event. These aren't glamorous jobs, but we had tons of students involved." This was his first year as Prouty volunteer coordinator for the Greeks, and Mark admits he had "no idea" what was involved. "But I was so amazed at the turnout, at the spirit. I was genuinely surprised."

A long tradition

According to Winnie Yoe, who is Philanthropy Chair at KDE, the Greek Council at Dartmouth actively encourages Greek participation in the event. But, she adds, "it's been a tradition for many years at some of the houses."

Such as Theta Delta Chi. The fraternity has been participating in The Prouty for nearly as long as the event has existed (it was founded in 1982), and over the years the Theta Delts have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Cancer Center. Indeed, this year the TD brothers, with a fundraising total in excess of $33,700, by July 25, were the favorites to win the Wes Chapman Fundraising Award, which goes to the Dartmouth Greek with the highest fundraising total. If in fact the Theta Delts win the Chapman Award this year, the brothers can place their prize on the mantle next to the Chapman Award they won in 2011.

A positive impact

"Some houses were very active in participating and fundraising," says Winnie of KDE, "which reflect that fraternities and sororities can have a positive impact on the community if they decide to come together and contribute for a cause." She also emphasizes that a lot of the fundraising is cooperative: KDE and the Sigma Delta sorority co-hosted a BBQ fundraiser and also hosted a bake sale with Delta Delta Delta to raise Prouty funds.

Winnie says the participation in The Prouty by the fraternities and sororities at Dartmouth is just one part of a larger element of a Greek social service culture at the College that doesn't receive enough attention. "I believe the Greeks' involvement in The Prouty shows that there is some positive aspect to the Greek system," she comments. "Greek houses have the potential to change their reputation and to be a real force for good at the school and in the community."

She hastens to add: "All the Greek houses that participate will definitely continue to participate in The Prouty!"

July 30, 2012