Greek Life members collaborate for ‘Fraternity Spring Cleanup’

By David McLellan

(Courtesy of Mark Schmidt)
(Courtesy of Mark Schmidt)

Residents of the neighborhoods between Phillips Street and Amity Street awoke Sunday to find their yards and streets cleared of garbage – an unusual sight on weekends.

This past weekend’s Fraternity Spring Cleanup received the largest turnout yet, according to Mark Schmidt, sophomore marketing major of Phi Sigma Kappa. Within a half hour, participants had cleaned the large section of town between the University of Massachusetts and downtown center.

The event was the second of five cleanups planned for this year, all orchestrated and advertised by the Inter-Fraternity Council. The IFC is a group of seven, each elected as a representative by their respective houses, who coordinate to host events similar to the cleanups. The IFC members have scheduled future cleanups on weekends expected to be particularly party-heavy, including this year’s “Blarney Blowout.”

“Now that we’re doing a better job advertising, it’s getting much bigger,” said Schmidt, a member of the IFC. “We are expecting a huge turnout for the Sunday after Blarney Blowout, which we are now referring to as ‘Mar. 5.’ We’re planning on bringing Dunkin Donuts for the people who show up and help.”
The IFC has further incentivized fraternities with the new “Connor Cummings IFC Cup.” The Cup is named in honor of Connor Cummings, a UMass student and member of Alpha Sigma Phi who died this past December. The Cup gives points and awards to the fraternities who have the highest percentage of members show up to the cleanups.

“It’s important for us to get everyone involved. We had some real positive reactions. One lady pulled over to thank us and said she’d be baking cookies for us next time. We definitely want to mend what can sometimes be a rocky relationship between us and the town,” Schmidt said.

Noise complaints and large crowds sometimes create conflict between fraternities and town residents, and members from several fraternities want to make it clear that these cleanups are meant to repair that damaged relationship, according to Schmidt.

“We’re trying to stem the whole stigma of us just being party animals. Here we are on a Sunday morning helping to clean the town,” said Trevor Pilkington, a junior legal studies and political science major in Tau Kappa Epsilon.

Liam Feeney, sophomore civil engineering major in Alpha Sigma Phi, said, “This not only gives us service hours, but it’s nice to get a good relationship with the town as well. We like to give back because they give so much to us.”

The IFC has planned several other service opportunities for fraternity members. Starting on Feb. 29, fraternity and sorority members will be taking monthly trips to the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield. The Ronald McDonald House is a “home away from home” for hospitalized or sick children and their families from the area, according to the organization’s website.

“These are the types of things we focus on to reinforce a positive image of fraternities in the community,” said Schmidt.

David McLellan can be reached at [email protected]