Fraternity’s Fall Festival rings in season with music, charity

Guests interact with the Art On Wheels booth, which uses art therapy to help people. Photo by Jay Stonefield

Emily Richardson, Contributing Writer

VCU’s Theta Delta Chi fraternity held their second annual Fall Festival on Saturday, raising money for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

The festival featured live music, food trucks and local artists. Theta Delta Chi’s philanthropy chair Jamie Lehman said the group raised $6,500 for the Children’s Hospital at this year’s festival. Last year, they raised $3,000.

Lehman said choosing to benefit the Children’s Hospital felt like a natural choice for members who grew up in the area and saw doctors at that hospital for their regular medical care. 

“Some of our brothers grew up going to that hospital,” Lehman said. “It was a cool thing for a lot of brothers to be able to give back to the same organization that was able to provide so much to them growing up.”

Planning its first festival last year began with the group coming together and discussing their values as a fraternity, Lehman said. 

“We really wanted to focus on the fact that a fraternity, at the end of the day, should be about community growth as well as personal growth,” Lehman said. “And you achieve that personal growth through community growth.”

All of the artists, vendors and organizations are from the Richmond community, according to Lehman. 

“It’s amazing to be able to host and work with so many organizations, and it’s great to see people smile and bring that sense of community,” Lehman said.

Musical performances included bands Marshall Family Values, Takyon and Housesick, as well as singer Anna Leonard. Student organizations were also invited to perform between musical acts. Atomic Gold, VCU’s Stomp ‘n’ Shake Cheer team, performed a routine to keep the crowd excited.

Lehman said their fraternity wanted to feature organizations that specifically help the Richmond community at the festival.

Nonprofit Art on Wheels gave their booth’s visitors the chance to create a craft with rubber stamps. Its booth was an example of the classes the organization offers for the community, according to Gibson.

“We’re a creative outreach program,” Gibson said. “Whatever group we work with will come up with a space, and we will bring our art classes to them.”

Many of Art on Wheels’ classes cater to disabled people, children and the elderly, Gibson said.

Other present nonprofits included RampsRVA, an organization that finances and assembles modular wheelchair ramps, according to their website. Volunteers of the organization gave out lemonade to attendees in exchange for donations.

In February 2021 freshman Adam Oakes died as a result of hazing at a fraternity event, according to a previous report by the Commonwealth Times

In the time since, the Division of Student Affairs has conducted an “independent review” of misconduct in Greek life, alongside hiring consulting firm Dyad Strategies to conduct an external review of fraternities and sororities, according to the Division of Student Affairs.

The passing of “Adam’s Law” now requires Virginia universities to provide hazing prevention training to student organizations, according to the Virginia Legislation System

All students who are members of selective organizations, including fraternities and sororities, will be required to attend training regarding hazing prevention and bystander intervention, according to an email sent by the Division of Student Affairs to the student body on Tuesday.

Theta Delta Chi president Samuel Donlon said his group is doing its part in trying to change the negative stereotypes surrounding fraternities.

“I feel like over the past 30 or 40 years there’s been a mindset shift within Greek life where they focus more on partying and doing whatever they want, rather than giving back to the community and the school they’re representing,” Donlon said.

Theta Delta Chi has 12 members while the average Greek organization at VCU has 37, according to the Division of Student Affairs. As a small fraternity, Theta Delta Chi takes the image it puts forward seriously, Donlon said.

“Bad things do happen. But we’re definitely a group that’s trying to change that,” Donlon said.

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