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Leadership and Service

Like Drew Thompson, Pashmina Lalchandani ’03 also didn’t expect to join a sorority when she arrived in the United States to attend Rensselaer. But she discovered after joining Sigma Delta that being a sorority member made her an effective leader and focused her energies on service to the campus community and beyond.

Rensselaer’s Greek community is going strong—reinventing itself to meet the challenges of the system’s third century of existence at the Institute.

Photo by Thomas Griffin

“Sororities can help you see yourself and help you grow inwards, while at the same time growing outwards by helping those in need,” she says. Today, Lalchandani, who has lived in Taiwan and London, is the president of Sigma Delta, a local sorority for Latin-American women founded at Rensselaer in 1996.

Lalchandani is involved in a number of leadership and service roles, including undergraduate class council president and the founder of the first ‘V-Day’ celebration at Rensselaer, an event, co-sponsored by many Greek organizations, that raises awareness of women’s issues.

“Fraternity and sorority members are the most active students in the community,” says Lalchandani. “We comprise a majority of the leadership, are heavily involved in community service, and serve as a role model for civic excellence.” In one example, fraternity members served as role models to the other young men on campus when they supported V-Day in February by handing out white ribbons in the Union to those who agreed to help stop violence against women.

Community service and philanthropy are central to the mission of Rensselaer’s Greek chapters today. “Greeks are one of the greatest contributors to local charities,” says Travis Apgar, associate dean of students. “They contribute to organizations such as Joseph’s House (a Troy homeless shelter), as well as local churches and community organizations.” Rensselaer’s Greeks were well represented at a variety of service activities on Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and during the Institute’s fifth annual community service day in April.

Fund-raising for charity ranges from fun activities such as the annual 24-hour Teeter-Totter event during Grand Marshal Week, co-sponsored by the sisters of Alpha Phi and the brothers of RSE, to Lambda Chi Alpha’s food drive that raised more than 22,000 pounds of food for Unity House in Troy. Greeks also raise money for a wide variety of causes, from research on diseases to helping children in local schools and recreational groups.

Rensselaer’s four sororities have been deeply involved in community service initiatives in Troy and beyond since they first became part of Greek life at the Institute in 1977. “Sororities have weekly tutoring sessions with the children at the Troy Boys and Girls Club,” says Jennifer Spear ’03, president of the Panhellenic Association. “We held our annual Greek God and Goddess Contest during Greek Week to benefit a local boy, who is attempting to raise funds to attend school.”

Sororities have raised money for the annual Clothe-A-Child campaign during the holiday season, and worked with fraternities on campus to improve fund-raising capabilities. “We’ve raised money for women’s cardiac care and research, held numerous cultural awareness activities, and served as Big Sisters to children in the Troy area,” she says. “As individuals, sorority women have a large impact on campus, being involved in athletics, community service organizations, student government, and other clubs and organizations.”

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Rensselaer Magazine: June 2003
President's View Your Mail From the Archives Hawk Talk Class Notes Features
Front Page At Rensselaer Milestones
In Memoriam Making a Difference Staying Connected
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

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