Letter to the editor

Dear Editor,
I’m writing in response to the article “Reinforcing the prison-industrial complex is not ‘philanthropy'” posted today. I’m usually not one to express my feelings on something that seems to be begging for attention; but as an alumna of VCU and of the Alpha Gamma Delta fraternity—and with many errors in the article—I felt the need to write.

The article slams Alpha Gamma Delta for a philanthropic event that we hold every year to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; this is the leading global organization that funds type one diabetes and relentlessly searches for a cure. The writer mentioned them as the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and this is incorrect. Does the Commonwealth Times have a fact-checker on staff? The writer called this even a “bake sale” that was were “profiting by belittling others’ pain” when in reality it’s one of our largest events funding our foundations (The Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation and The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) with over 1,500 dollars. I have had the pleasure of interning for this organization’s Central Virginia Chapter, and continue to do design work for their annual galas. It’s a shame that The Commonwealth Times has decided to put their name in bad lighting when they truly do amazing work.

It’s also a shame that this writer has chosen to label sorority women as “a gaggle of girls, privileged enough to attend an institution of higher education…” Sure, attending college is a great honor; but who ever said some of these women didn’t have to fight hard to get here? University students all over the world make grave sacrifices to get where they are. This does not exclude those of the greek community. The writer also insinuates that sorority women have been groomed to ignore those in jail because it does not affect us; even going further to say we are “shamefully ignorant to the condition of others.” Again, how can you possibly know what goes on in the lives of these women or of any of those who participated in this event? How can you shame an entire organization when they don’t know who has been affected by a loved one’s incarceration? Aside from this rude assumption, you seem to pose greek women as “ignorant” and not “properly educated” repeatedly. However, VCU’s fraternity and sorority members have consistently achieved a higher GPA within VCU than non-greek members.

The article comes to an end by saying, “Perhaps, too, AGD should consider donating to, not mocking, those disenfranchised and abused by the prison-industrial complex.” Did you know that the greek community, as undergraduates, raise over 7 million dollars per year for charities all over the world? Our philanthropic target for this event happened to be helping those with type one diabetes, but that does not make it any less important than those that are unfortunately in prison.

Was the point of the article slam greek life as a whole or to try to make a connection between a philanthropy event and the prison-industrial complex? With the erratic gathering of statistics and numbers without proper citations, I’m not convinced of the latter. Perhaps the writer should at least try to hide a bias against the VCU greek community when writing about events that help fund a cure to an autoimmune disease that is life-threatening. This was irresponsible journalism; an article full of errors that a simple Google search could fix, assumptions, and defamatory statements. It’s disheartening to see my alma mater publishing slander. I’m sure there are plenty of things you could shame greek life for, but a philanthropic event is not one of them.
Courtney Walker

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