Fraternities and sororities, collectively known as “Greek life,” are often regarded as places on campuses where a lot of excessive partying happens. Most Canadian universities don’t have a relationship with their school’s Greek organizations. But fraternity and sorority members are quick to point out that their organizations do philanthropic work as well.

Members of Carleton’s sorority Tau Sigma Phi spent a week in February raising money for Be the Choice, an organization that helps breast cancer patients explore options for treatment. Sorority sisters set up space in Carleton’s tunnel system, where they sold food to raise the money.

Space available for “tunneling” (activities in Carleton’s tunnels) is restricted by the university. The tunnels are a popular place for club booths, but the tunnels can get crowded with students running to and from classes. “We know it can be annoying, but we have nowhere else to go,” says Tau Sigma Phi’s president, Bella Hall. [Photo © Natalie Ceccomancini]
The sisters grilled cheese sandwiches and cooked pancakes on hot plates to sell in exchange for donations. [Photo © Mercedes Belaiche]
Hannah Wasslen, Tau Sigma Phi’s philanthropy chair, says she enjoys spreading awareness and talking to people in the tunnels. [Photo © Mercedes Belaiche]
Sorority members made games, posters with a “surprise” touch to grab the attention of busy students and staff. [Photo © Mercedes Belaiche]
“Me and some of the sisters were in the house, up from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., making cookies, putting ribbon pins together and making our signs,” Wasslen said. “It’s times like that, that make me love the sisterhood that Tau Sig brings.” [Photo © Mercedes Belaiche]
After collecting donations all week at Carleton, two sisters blow up balloons to decorate their final event of the week — Pretty in Pink. The annual pub night was held Feb. 8 at The Hudson. [Photo © Mercedes Belaiche]

Breast cancer research has been Tau Sigma Phi’s main cause since it was founded in 2007. All the founding members had family members or close friends diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the past 13 years, the focus on breast cancer has drawn members to Tau Sigma Phi because of their own personal connections.

Tau Sigma Phi has been recognized by the Carleton University Greek Council (not affiliated with Carleton University) for their philanthropic efforts. Greek organizations on campus raised more than $100,000 for Relay for Life in 2019. [Photo © Natalie Ceccomancini]
“Sororities have a bad reputation for partying,” said Wasslen. “But every club on campus has parties, even academic clubs have bar crawls.” [Photo © Natalie Ceccomancini]
Wasslen was the night’s “sober sister,” a requirement for every pub night and party hosted by the sorority. She wears an easily identifiable shirt, and carries her fanny pack/first aid kit all night. [Photo © Natalie Ceccomancini]
Paddles line the walls at the Tau Sigma Phi house, a sorority tradition. These paddles represent all of the Tau Sig members who have lived in the house since the sorority was founded 13 years ago. [Photo © Natalie Ceccomancini]
“They’re given as gifts, to mark milestones and celebrate events,” Wasslen says about the paddles. “Tradition is really important to us, which is why we stick with our core values and philanthropies.” [Photo © Natalie Ceccomancini]
Another tradition of the sisters of Tau Sigma Phi is to put their hand print on the balcony of the house. “Our three pillars are sisterhood, scholarship, and philanthropy. It’s what we were founded on, and those are the values that we want to continue to represent,” said Wasslen. [Photo © Natalie Ceccomancini]

The sisters estimate they raised more than $2,000 for Be the Choice throughout the week.