College Chat: How to Really Win

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Ellen Ring Photo Credit: Contributed

This week was the most intense, and to some, most important week of the college year. Greek Week is a time at Villanova when all the sororities and fraternities gather together for lively (and often slightly passive aggressive) events to battle for the glorious title of “Greek Week Champions,” known to the more competitive personalities as “best fraternity and sorority on campus.”

Events for the week include a tug-of war, three-on-three basketball tournament and dance performance, among other things. The boys tend to joke around and make fun of the competition, but the girls take each event very seriously with matching outfits, posters and rowdy cheering and boasting.

My favorite part of the week this year was the coin war: every Greek organization has a bucket and their job is to fill it with coins to earn points, while the other groups have to fill it with bills to negate points. Whoever has the most positive points by the end of the week wins the event, but all the money is donated to a worthy local cause.

It seems pretty simple, and begins as such, but once a sorority is in the running for Greek Week Champion, this event becomes increasingly akin to The Hunger Games. If the buckets close at 2 p.m., you will see sorority women lurking in shadows and around corners at 1:55, waiting to race to the table and put a week’s pay into other sororities’ buckets.

Girls walk through campus with huge canisters of change, triumphantly drowning the contents of their bucket in a fountain of charity. There are dirty looks and sighs, and there is trickery. This year my sorority took the brunt of the action. This event soon became my favorite though, because of the response that my fellow sisters had to our sudden increase in charitable giving due to our star status in Greek Week.

Midway through the week, I donned my Chi Omega shirt and walked towards the middle of campus with my coffee can of change (proving once again that money and coffee together achieve great things.) When I got to our bucket, I was greeted by at least a handful of twenty-dollar bills. Shocked at the malice of our rivals, I buried them in coins and went on my way, thinking about all those bills. They were meant to hurt my friends and me, make us lose the title that we had worked so hard for… But I realized I wasn’t mad.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this year’s benefactor, North Light Community Center. I had volunteered at their afterschool program during my and sophomore year and couldn’t help but recall all the kids and how happy they were every time they got a new kickball, boxes of crayons, or extra chocolate milk at snack time.

Each day of Coin Wars, there was somewhere near $400 in our bucket (they actually had to replace it with a bigger one as our lead increased during the week). A box of 24 Crayola crayons is $2.

“Go ahead, ruin my day!” I began to think, as I watched our bucket fill up with bills and imagined two hundred boxes of crayons a day being shipped to North Light.

Once I shared this thought with my sisters, the giving spirit grew. We started to quietly refer to Coin War as a philanthropy event for our sorority. We donated more and more from our own savings, evening out the score while supporting the great cause. With some positive thoughts, we turned what could have been a spiteful, petty, on-campus rivalry into what probably could pay for a new wing of the North Light Community Center. We ended up winning the title of Greek Week Champions, but to Chi Omega at Villanova, nothing could be greater than the feeling that all the competition we fostered benefitted a greater good.

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