Greeks clean up their neighborhood

Students from Fresno State sororities and fraternities, equipped with plastic trash bags and blue latex gloves, pick up trash to make the neighborhood surrounding their houses more presentable in the community. Michael Price / The Collegian

Students from Fresno State sororities and fraternities, equipped with plastic trash bags and blue latex gloves, pick up trash to make the neighborhood surrounding their houses more presentable in the community.
Michael Price / The Collegian

Various members of Fresno State Greek sororities and fraternities participated in Sunday’s Greek Cleanup, an event coordinated through Associated Students Inc.

Participants in the event picked up trash and cleaned up areas neighboring the Fraternity and Sorority Mall between Millbrook and 6th avenues. Students present also cleaned up the area housing a group of fraternity houses on Shaw Avenue across the street from the Fresno State campus.

“So what we’re doing is just trying to clean up the areas around the Greek sororities and fraternities,” said senior Melissa Ellis, an ASI community affairs coordinator.

“We’re just trying to make it a more beautiful place so that the people in this area can actually enjoy this space and not be stepping on glass and things like that.”

Students were seen equipped with plastic trash bags, donning blue latex gloves while picking up glass and trash in front of many sorority and fraternity houses.

The event was meant to make the areas surrounding Greek housing look more presentable in the community, Ellis said.

But one problem prevalent in the Greek mall is vandalism in the form of graffiti. Several markings could be seen around gates in Greek housing and up and down the sidewalks of Millbrook Avenue.

Joe Devane, president of Fresno State’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity chapter, said graffiti is a recurring problem in the area.

“That’s the most annoying part because we’ll go ahead and clean it up the day after we see it—and then it’s right back there the next day,” Devane said.

“The best thing we can do is continuously clean it up. If we do that, maybe that will annoy them to the point where they stop because they realize that it’s not going to be there for long.”

The Fraternity and Sorority Mall is the divider between the university campus and the El Dorado Park neighborhood—one that spans two-by-four blocks and is occupied by Section 8 housing. Its notoriety for crime, theft and vandalism—along with students’ perception of it being unsafe at night—earned the neighborhood the nickname “Sin City.”

“Unfortunately in this neighborhood, things like that are bound to happen,” Ellis said. “We just kind of learned to accept it and to clean it up and move on.”

ASI president Arthur Montejano, who was present at the event, said that the cleanup event is one of many community revitalization projects to come. ASI is looking into lighting projects to increase safety in the area north of Bulldog Lane and adjacent to Bulldog Stadium.

The Greek Cleanup is the first step, he said.

“You start with the person in the mirror. You start with yourself,” Montejano said. “Then you go out a little bit further. We’re going to continue to move out into the community. Our efforts will continue and build on that.”

Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Gamma were among the sororities involved in Sunday’s cleanup event. Fraternities such as Sigma Phi Epsilon, Delta Sigma Phi and Pi Kappa Alpha participated as well.

With so many sororities and fraternities participating in the cleanup, the event was intended to inspire unity among the Fresno State Greek system.

“I think that it shows that we do all belong to our own individual houses, but at the end of the day we can come together,” said Megan O’Rourke, president of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

Sunday’s event occurred three weeks after the death of Phillip Dhanens, a freshman and pledge of the suspended Theta Chi fraternity. This is the second year in a row sororities and fraternities have hosted the Greek Cleanup event.

“I think it’s a really positive thing,” O’Rourke said. “I know the Greek system doesn’t always have a great view—people don’t look at us in the best light. But we really do a lot of amazing things like this.”

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