I’m sure your mom would have told you the same thing mine did: ‘You’d be amazed what a few minds can do when they’re put together!’
My year-old fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, took mom’s advice and integrated the Orange County-wide counterculture of skateboarding to raise money for the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation on May 20. This event was a huge success for its first year. So that others might realize the potential that is truly within their grasp, I offer this article as a concession to my mom’s maxim, as well as a testament to how much is accessible to all students through Greek organizations.
In order to be chartered, or recognized by the fraternity’s headquarters as a fully sanctioned chapter, the UC Irvine Beta Theta Pi must fulfill a number of requirements. Within these requirements is the obligation to perform a philanthropic event for the benefit of a charity organization of our choosing. A small committee of Betas shouldered the first handful of work that was to become a giant snowball, culminating in 90 skateboarders bombing into 60 hay bales on California Drive in front of the Anteater Recreation Center in an effort that raised over $3,500.
The philanthropy committee established its dream of holding a downhill skateboard race only about a month before the event, deciding upon skating because of its popularity in the campus community.
The idea happened to also coincide with a downhill skating culture that was prevalent in the mid-1970s in the Irvine-Huntington Beach area (grab a copy of the skate/surf film ‘Downhill Motion/Uluwatu’). Since the Beta chapter was originally founded in 1975, this coincidence worked handsomely.
So the idea seemed to fit, with a number of small obstacles. The street was crippled for a day and inconvenienced a large number of Palo Verde residents (whom we thank for their patience). We also needed an insurance policy greater than $2 million in the event of injury during this monstrous act of part bravery, part skill, but mostly insanity.
Nevertheless, the committee trudged through meeting after meeting with school officials and, after all the questions had been answered, the proposal was ratified and the Dragon Skate Race was blinking its first signs of life. It took more than a committee of three for its wings to spread, though. Quiksilver and Hurley were the first contacts to respond, each donating over $400 in prizes for the race and raffle. A few days later, Oakley, Sector Nine, Active and the Green Room latched on, with around 12 more sponsors sending donations for the event. Flyers were passed out to all of the local high schoolers with help from the Irvine Unified School District. A group of Betas also tagged the Etnies skate park with Dragon Skate Race flyers.
‘The way [the Skate Race] got the word out, pushing the charity aspect over the fraternity letter, was a great way to pen the event up to the campus,’ said Soham Shah, a second-year biological sciences major and an Associated Students of UCI intern. All of this was started with an idea and furthered with exchange of visions, a development that is most readily available in the relationships encouraged within Greek organizations.
Seeing as how this philanthropic event was such a big hit, I would like to include a number of things that the Greeks make available. Unlike most organizations, Greeks have certain guidelines that must be fulfilled every year in order to remain sanctioned by the school and their national organization. These usually involve yearly philanthropy and attendance to on-campus Inter-Fraternity Council/Panhellenic meetings such as IFC, The Panhellenic Counsel and The Greek Presidents’ Council.
In the future, planned roundtables include issues such as risk management, public relations, alumni relations, social events and recruitment. There is no other organization on campus that offers such a wide array of direct experiences for common and attainable career fields.
The Greek world is changing and becoming more involved with the outside world. Haley Greenwald-Gonella, a fourth-year English major and a member of the Epsilon Phi sorority, noticed the most important aspect of the DSR was ‘the way that the Betas got the word out about a truly wonderful charity organization through an event that would not simply be reduced to ‘check-swapping.”