Letter to the Editor

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

As a Carnegie Mellon and Sigma Phi Epsilon alumnus awaiting Peace Corps assignment, it was refreshing to see the Tartan Board and University President Jared Cohon embrace the outstanding example set by Carnegie Mellon Greeks through their many hours of service. Since the Tartan Board has called for Greeks to share their experiences and ideas regarding service, I feel compelled to share my own thoughts.

For service to become a “regular part of the organizational structure,” organizational leadership must make a convincing case to its members that service is an intrinsic element of that organization’s character. Greeks do not perform service because our leadership tells us to; we perform service because we believe doing so helps us achieve a certain role in this world — a role we expressed a desire to serve when we became members of our fraternities and sororities.

Why do most Greek organizations perform incredible acts of service that require countless hours of dedication, while an unfortunate few are lethargic at best? Spend time with the latter type, and you’ll find a membership that has ceased to view service and community involvement as necessary elements of its identity. Indeed, failing to serve no longer hinders their concept of what a good member is. It would no doubt be inspiring to see organizations declare that their identity necessitates spreading the spirit of involvement to the world around them.

The new student body executives, Karl Sjogren (himself one of my fraternity brothers) and Andrea Hamilton, are indeed new, and my charge is theirs to consider.

However, all campus leaders can promote a sense that service is an essential part of the Carnegie Mellon experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Student Development’s biggest monthly service event backed up by a Senate PR effort? Or how about the executives and Senators working together on periodic campaigns to focus student efforts, the way a Greek membership’s energies are directed? College is, after all, an attempt to prepare us for the “real world” — a real world desperately in need of our energy, organization, and service.

Adam Atkinson
Creative writing ’05
Pittsburgh, Pa.