At a dinner with student leaders Tuesday, Vice Chancellor for Student Life Timothy Rogers affirmed Greek life by reminding students that UT's fraternities and sororities raised nearly $500,000 last year through philanthropic work.
The Zeta chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha contributes to that figure through the funds it raises in the fight against breast cancer.
In combating a disease that killed an estimated 39,520 American women in 2011, the women of ZTA also donate something else — their time.
Yaz Ahmed, junior in political science, serves as the philanthropy chair for UT's ZTA chapter.
"Particularly during the month of October, for my chapter, what we do is a series of events that are sponsored by my chapter and co-sponsored by another organization, and we do 'Race for The Cure,'" Ahmed said. "So that's our month of October."
Each of ZTA's 160-member chapters will volunteer for at least eight hours at various events throughout the month, culminating with Knoxville's rendition of the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure on Saturday morning at World's Fair Park.
"I've never been in a group of women so passionate about wanting to give back, and wanting to raise awareness and kind of say, 'Hey we're a safe place, we're here for you, and we want you to be a survivor from day one,'" Ahmed said. "That passion has been on display each Friday on Pedestrian Walkway during the month in an effort to "keep the campus pink."
In that effort, ZTA sisters hand out ribbons and cards to remind women to perform regular self-examinations.
"It's a private way of reminding you on a piece of paper that has stickers on it for you to put (it) on your agenda, or on your calendar, because we're all about early detection and being properly informed," Ahmed said.
The awareness effort has expanded to include the fraternity ranks as well, with Sigma Phi Epsilon assisting with the handouts on the Walkway.
"They (Sigma Phi Epsilon) have put aside any predispositions about handing out reminder cards about, well, pretty much feeling yourself up," Ahmed said.
Blake Hollis, junior in mechanical engineering and president of Sig Ep, said that breast cancer is an issue that actively affects the families of many of his fraternity brothers.
"Breast cancer really affects everyone, I'm sure you know people who have had it in the past. As a chapter, all of us are helping the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation."
The Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation is a national organization for breast cancer awareness and education, meaning that ZTA chapters at campuses across the country are fighting the disease in similar ways to those of UT's chapter.
"The Zeta Tau Alpha foundation is really one of the best foundations I've seen that actually gets the awareness out there in ways that people remember," Hollis said.
For Ahmed, it's a fight that hits home. Her grandmother passed away due to breast cancer, and her aunt struggled with it as well.
"October is very emotionally charged for us, because all of us have the same goal," Ahmed said. "We're all on the same page about what we do, and it's thinking pink and raising awareness in Knoxville. And the cool thing about it is that if you were to step out of Knoxville and go to Athens, Baton Rouge, or Starkville, it is the same for every Zeta Tau Alpha chapter."