By Aaron Dias
If I said the word “fraternity,” what are some things that would pop into your head? Parties? Drinking? Togas? How about philanthropy? An understated part of Greek life here at Fitchburg State University is the extensive charity work that the fraternities and sororities do.
“[There are fraternities who] have their fun and taken it too far,” Devin Salviuolo, philanthropy chair of Sigma Pi at FSU, said when discussing the negative view most people have of Greek life. “People think that it is a social drinking club, and that is not it at all. [Sigma Pi] believes in the ideas that we were founded on; to promote community and become better men.”
The brothers at the Fitchburg State chapter of Sigma Pi are involved in many charity events on campus. Salviuolo said they work with many different organizations on and around campus, including with cancer patients, Autism Speaks, and the homeless in the Fitchburg area. One of Sigma Pi’s recent events was the Autism Speaks people auction on Oct. 22, where brothers from Sigma Pi auctioned their services to participants. Things like cleaning, cooking, and car washing were all up for grabs at this auction, according to Salviuolo.
Another large event that the brothers hold each year is the Sleep Out for the Homeless, where brothers of Sigma Pi camp out at the Quad with boxes instead of tents. This year it is planned for Nov. 10, with the brothers staying on the Quad from 7 p.m. that night to 7 a.m. the next day. During that time, they will sell coffee and soup to the students. All proceeds go toward assistance of homeless in Fitchburg.
“I love helping people and I know that a lot of other brothers do too,” Salviuolo said. He explained that Sigma Pi’s founding beliefs all reflect the ideas of betterment of the individual character: “to advance truth and justice, teaching the brothers what is right, to promote scholarship. You’re here to go to college and get a degree and that should be your No. 1 priority no matter what,” Salviuolo said. The members of Sigma Pi take academics very seriously, Salviolo said. The organization requires all incoming members to be academically eligible by maintaining an overall and semester GPA of 2.7. “The fraternity will always be there,” Salviuolo explained; the most important thing to a student should be his work.
On the subject of chivalry, Salviuolo said, “To encourage chivalry is simple. Just be a kind and empathetic person.” He emphasized how another goal of Sigma Pi is to have all the members be gentlemen.
Another founding belief was the idea of diffusing culture. Sigma Pi was founded 1897 in Vincennes University, Indiana. Salviuolo explained how culturally different this idea was during that time. “Racism was very apparent at that time and it just amazes me that a group of [white] men would gather around and make a group that diffuses culture.” [“I believe in Sigma Pi, a Fellowship of kindred minds, united in Brotherhood to advance Truth and Justice, to promote Scholarship, to encourage Chivalry, to diffuse Culture …” He explained, “[Sigma Pi] includes everybody because everybody has a story to tell.”
According to Salviuolo, the Greek life is more than just partying with a bunch of friends. “[People] shy away from the good things that we do around here.” Sigma Pi is a philanthropic organization that tries to instill on its members a sense of brotherhood and moral according to Salviuolo. Here on campus they try to make a difference in our community through their actions in charity and personal actions as people.