The College Football Travel Tour welcomes college football fans and travelers of all ages on this journey to explore college towns, check out local cultures and attractions, enjoy some college football, and meet interesting people.
When I was in college, I didn’t know anything about the Greek system. My only association with Greek was a Greek class I took my last semester of college as a pass/fail class. Working, finishing my thesis, and not going to class? I failed my Greek class.
During my freshman year at the University of South Carolina, my dorm was directly across the street from the fraternity houses. I never joined a fraternity and didn’t go to many parties but I did experience how loud they can be. At the time, most of the Greek housing for fraternities and sororities was on campus. So for anyone interested in Greek life, it wasn’t hard to find.
Run down housing built for parties, hazing, and wild weekends – that was my impression of the Greek system. Here I was now at the University of Washington as part of the College Football Travel Tour where I had my own encounter with a sorority and fraternity. Only this time, I was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered about Greek life.
Alpha Phi gives back at the University of Washington
Despite the extra hour of sleep, the streets were still quiet Sunday morning after the big football game between Washington and Oregon. I didn’t expect to see many people wandering around campus. So as I wandered the peaceful streets dressed in their best Fall colors just a few blocks from campus, I didn’t expect to see any students.
Walking past 19th Avenue, I saw 5 girls dressed in their Washington Husky purple carrying large garbage bags as they picked up trash. Intrigued by their presence on a Sunday morning, I had to find out what these girls were doing.
As I caught up with them, I noticed they weren’t alone – a number of guys had joined them as well. As I got closer, I saw that there were quite a number of amateur street cleaners dressed in purple as girls and guys were out picking up trash.
I talked to Patty, Katherine, Megan, Claire, and Samantha to find out what inspired them to pick up trash on a Sunday morning. These girls were part of the sorority Alpha Phi and this was part of their once a quarter clean up on the streets north of campus.
I spent a few minutes finding out a little more about these girls, their sorority, and their activities on campus. The girls shared with me how they had partnered with the Delta Tau Delta fraternity to clean the streets as part of their service efforts in their sorority.
Many sororities and fraternities make service and community activities a part of their organization. However, not many do it with same cheerful attitude these girls had. While their efforts this morning were admirable, I discovered that these girls dress up to help others when they aren’t dressed down cleaning the streets.
Making a difference in the community is important to them – and something that comes from their hearts. Each February, they host a silent auction called the Red Dress Gala to raise money for the University of Washington Cardiac Center which funds grants for student research. The auction items include sports tickets, autographs, timeshares, vacation rentals, and more as each of these items is personally rounded up and donated by the girls.
In the last 5 years, this gala has raised $200,000 for University of Washington Cardiology as part of American Heart Month. While the sorority receives a little of this money as part of their gala, I could how excited these girls were to be a part of this event every year.
While fraternities and sororities enjoy parties, activities, and social life on campus, these girls take great pride in what they do to help others – and that enthusiasm was evident Sunday morning. Their efforts to make a difference in the Seattle community made me appreciate another aspect of Greek life.
Greek life and beautiful homes at the University of Washington
As I spent time talking with these girls, I learned a little more about the Greek system at the University of Washington. Like their house on 19th Ave, most of the Greek houses are located just a couple of blocks from campus between 17th Ave and 22th Ave creating a community of fraternities and sororities in their own neighborhood.
Walking the streets of this Greek community, I saw a number of fraternity and sorority houses and was amazed at how beautiful these were. Some houses were built in a colonial style while others looked like mansions – quite a contrast to the Gothic architecture on campus.
After taking a campus tour and walking the streets on Saturday, I learned a little bit about the Greek system on campus. However, I would have never discovered these rows of beautiful fraternity and sorority houses on these tree lined streets north of campus if I hadn’t met the girls from Alpha Phi.
I took a number of photos of these houses and wondered how stunning homes on beautiful streets like this became a part of the Greek system at the University of Washington.
Fraternities and sororities will always be a part of college life. However, there aren’t many that get to live in locations and homes like this. Meeting a few girls picking up trash gave me an opportunity to connect with people, learn more about the students and service opportunities on campus, and see a part of this north Seattle neighborhood I never knew existed.
Thanks to Katherine, Patty, Megan, Claire, and Samantha for sharing their story. Thanks to Alpha Phi and Delta Tau Delta for cleaning up the streets. And thanks to travel and the College Football Travel Tour for giving me the opportunity to enjoy the past part of the University of Washington – its people.
Even if Greek life isn’t for you, the streets north of campus have beautiful homes in neighborhoods that make you feel right at home. Try taking a walk on Sunday to explore this area – Friday and Saturday nights may be a little too lively for a quiet stroll through this neighborhood.