Theta Chi celebrates 160 years, hosts week of events at Rutgers to support military
This year marks a pivotal year for the Theta Chi fraternity, as the organization celebrates its 160th anniversary and its fourth and largest G.I. Theta Chi event.
This year, the event is on pace to raise $3,000 for the United Service Organizations (USO). This is nearly double what was raised last year.
G.I. Theta Chi is a weeklong event dedicated to giving back to the troops, said Steven Magidenko, G.I. Theta Chi’s chair and the coordinator of the week's events.
For the past three years, G.I. Theta Chi has resembled a field day, where events only occurred on one day of the year, the School of Arts and Sciences sophomore said.
“We are really trying to expand,” Magidenko said.
The fraternity wants this year's events to go beyond what has been done in the past, he said.
On Tuesday night, the 22 teams, totaling 110 people, participated in “Treats for the Troops,” a cookie-decorating event. On Wednesday, the organization sold cookies on the steps next to Brower Commons.
On Thursday, there will be an All-American hot dog cook-out, with 16 teams participating. Some of the organizations will be competing in a hot-dog eating contest, Magidenko said.
The culminating event is Saturday, which features a competition among the 22 teams, he said.
“A lot of the events are military style competitions,” Magidenko said.
Saturday’s events feature paintball target-shooting, an inflatable obstacle course, a jousting arena, tug of war and a competitive dunk tank with speed-throwing incorporated, he said. The events are highly competitive.
“We are going to be hosting a lot of (on-campus) organizations,” Magidenko said.
Every sorority on campus is involved, as well as four fraternities and two branches of the Reserve Officer Training Corps detachments.
“I really wanted to incorporate community building and awareness. We do hope to build a community behind this cause we’ve been behind,” Magidenko said. “I really wanted this to become a community-wide event.”
The events also receives help from business within the Rutgers area, said Chris Amato, a Rutgers Business School senior and a past coordinator of G.I. Theta Chi.
Amato’s G.I. Theta Chi brought in the first corporate sponsors.
A paintball company provided prizes for one team. Kite+Key also sponsored the event, as well as Knockaround Sunglasses and several other other local businesses.
Fritz’s has offered their freezers, which enables the fraternity to store their food for the event, Amato said. Fritz went shopping for the event and have been helpful, Magidenko said.
“They’re really behind the cause,” Magidenko said.
The main philanthropic goal of Theta Chi is to give back to the troops, in particular through the USO.
“At the root of all greek involvement is a good cause,” Amato said. “It’s something that I’m really proud of. The whole idea has been raising awareness for the troops. We are one of the only organizations on campus that supports the troops."
One of Amato's pledge brothers is currently in the military, he said. While in Afghanistan, the USO gave him the opportunity to call his family.
“It’s really hitting home for me now … when I think about someone I’ve known for the past three years of my life is now overseas fighting for our country,” Amato said.
This makes their efforts mean that much more, he said.
“When I found out that (he) was actually interacting with the USO, it really brings home the cause and makes the brotherhood that much stronger,” Magidenko said.
Greek life does not always get light shined on the service aspect, Magidenko said.
“The fact that we get to do this really brings the brotherhood a lot closer. It’s (about) proving to ourselves why we’re here, proving to the campus why we’re here,” Magidenko said.
It has been impactful to be able to give back to those who are sacrificing everything overseas, Amato said.
“People are actually rallying behind the cause, which is something I was really happy to see,” Magidenko said.
The event has grown in the past few years, Amato said. He hopes it will continue to grow and become a staple of the community.
Amato said the effort of Magidenko, along with the wide range of support through the community and the rewarding feeling of helping the troops has allowed G.I. Theta Chi to flourish.
“It’s really amazing what they do for the troops and their families,” he said.
Faith Hoatson is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.