Brittany Best: UC Greeks embracing their roots

Although the Greek system nationwide is often thought of as merely a gateway to cool college parties and ready friends, no one can accuse the boys of Sigma Alpha Epsilon's Chi Mu chapter of not paying enough attention to their philanthropic roots.

Established in 1927 as a nonprofit designed to generate funds for scholarships and undergraduate loans, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is one of the nation's largest fraternities. With more than 300 chapters in 49 states, SAE's presence is pervasive.

Although the fraternity's chosen philanthropy is the Children's Miracle Network, SAE encourages all its chapters to become involved in both campus and local community service projects.

In that spirit, UC Merced's brand-new chapter -- whose first 27 pledges were officially pinned last November -- has wasted no time in getting involved.

The gentlemen of Chi Mu are going pink and were helping to spread breast cancer awareness with their Passionately Pink for the Cure event Thursday, an inspiring night of dinner, dancing and stories of survival.

Although the event was co-sponsored by UCM's Office of Student Life-Women's Programs & Civic Engagement, the gentlemen of Chi Mu have spearheaded the effort and nurtured the event from the start.

"It's been a hassle ... initially, not many people wanted to help out, but the more we got done and the more structured and well-developed the event became, the more people jumped on board," said Viet Ta, a senior, and Chi Mu's recruitment chair and membership educator, about the first stages of planning.

His feelings about the dinner and dance? Ta said he was "excited, and extremely motivated, particularly because of Carole Tomlinson-Keasey's death this past Saturday."

(UC Merced's founding chancellor died Oct. 10 from complications related to breast cancer.)

"She was like our mother away from home (for our class)," he added. "We're trying to get people to understand that this is breast cancer, it's serious. So many people have it, and no one realizes the numbers; it happens to a lot of people we know. And the sad thing is, it's detectable, but most of the time people don't find out until its too late."

The gentlemen of Chi Mu hope that by promoting events such as those during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they can do just that.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or the NBCAM organization, is a partnership of national public service organizations, medical associations, and government agencies (such as the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the National Medical Association, and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure network) working to promote breast cancer awareness.

The NBCAM also works to distribute information about the disease and to provide better access to preventive procedures and screening services by educating and empowering women to take charge and play a more proactive role in their health care.

Brittany Best is a senior at UC Merced from Moorpark majoring in psychology with a minor in writing.