SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- "Animal House," National Lampoon's comedy about 1962 college life, is getting a lot of attention again as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. At Wittenberg University, Shelley Reynolds, director of Greek Life, thinks people might be surprised about how different the culture is on most campuses since the cult film was made.
"We've come a long way since the days we first watched this movie, and the beginning of the school year can serve as a reminder and clarification of what life in fraternity and sorority houses has become," Reynolds said. "At Wittenberg most chapter houses are alcohol-free and 'in-house' events do not include alcohol."
Guidelines provided by fraternity and sorority national/international directors and campuses require that chapter functions where alcohol is served must be registered with the campus. Attendance is by invitation only, and only those with proper identification will be served. Most events are now held at licensed establishments, which share the responsibility for serving alcohol to those of legal drinking age. Chapters provide sober monitors or party patrols. Each year, Wittenberg offers alcohol education programs for all students.
To help prepare for this new academic year, Wittenberg's Greeks hosted a program called "Courage to Care" late last spring. The program featured guest speaker Carolyn Cornelison who talked about her personal experiences as a former student-athlete and sorority member. The straightforward messages she shared about binge drinking and alcohol abuse was intended to help students know what warning signs to look for in out-of-control drinking and how to help friends who may not think they need help. Eagle Beverage Distributors, the local Anheuser-Busch wholesaler, made "Courage to Care" possible at Wittenberg.
"Students have made grand strides in becoming more self-governing in behaviors that affect the overall community," Reynolds said. "It's unfortunate that the positive side of the Greek community often goes unnoticed by movie and TV producers."
For example, Wittenberg fraternity and sorority members have had higher grade point averages than the overall student population for the last nine out of 10 semesters. In addition, Greek philanthropic giving last year totaled more than $14,000 in support of local and national service organizations. Also last year at Wittenberg, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters found time to volunteer more than 4,000 hours of service. This year, Greeks will be helping to build a home for a Springfield family through Wittenberg's Habitat for Humanity Chapter. Construction began Saturday, Sept. 6, and will continue throughout the year until the home is completed.
"We're really proud of our Greek chapters here at Wittenberg, and maybe one day a movie or a series can be made that actually portrays what good comes from being a member of such a worthy community," Reynolds said.
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