It’s a universal fact that the members of your pledge class will be your closest friends. From bid day forward, you form an inexplicable bond with your pledge class that is almost impossible to describe to anyone who’s never been involved in Greek life. Aside from the lifelong friendships, you also have an in at all the best parties on campus, countless notable alumni connections, and of course, the opportunity to raise millions of dollars in philanthropic efforts throughout your time as an active member.
Donnie Collins, a sophomore at Emerson College majoring in visual and media arts, has just experienced an entirely new level of dedication from his pledge brothers. They’ve created a fund and have been raising money so he can afford to pay for the next step in his sex reassignment process. To put this in lay man’s terms, Donnie is a brother of Phi Alpha Tau (the nation’s oldest professional communicative arts fraternity) who was actually born a sister, and now he’s trying to get rid of his boobs. Aside from denying his chapter from what could have been the most bizarre circumstances for rush boobs ever, Donnie’s story has sparked national interest.
Collins, who has been on testosterone hormones for over a year, was unable to have his “top surgery,” because his school-sponsored insurance rejected his claim. Once his pledge brothers found out about his medical drama, they took it upon themselves to set up a website and tell everyone about their mission to raise money to help their brother become a man.
Members of Emerson’s Phi Alpha Tau chapter set up a fundraising page on Indiegogo.com, seeking donations to help cover half of the costs of Collins’ surgery. The funds they’ve raised have exceeded their goal, and are now more than likely going to be able to cover the entire cost of Donnie’s gender reassignment surgery. What happens if the funds they raise surpass their goal? The boys haven’t said yet, but I’m hoping they throw an epic “Congrats on Losing Your Boobs” party, or something of that nature.
While all Greek organizations donate millions of dollars to multiple charities each year, I was under the impression that it is non-compliant with most organizations’ by-laws to exploit the name of a chapter to raise money for a specific member’s benefit. Luckily, the brothers of Phi Alpha Tau clarified on their Indiegogo page they are raising the money “as individuals in an organization rallying around another individual. This endeavor is not being sponsored by the organization as a whole, rather than the active members within it.”
Ok, I get it. Instead of saying, “Phi Alpha Tau is raising money for Donnie,” they’re saying, “Donnie’s friends, who also happen to be in his fraternity, are raising money for him.” Fair?
Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings on gender assignment surgery, I can’t help but wonder if this will spawn a new trend of philanthropic efforts among Greek life. Will the token “fat sorority” on campus make campaign efforts to afford group Lapband surgeries? Will certain houses set up “Nose Job Funds” for the legacies they had to bid, despite their unfortunate facial structure?
I also think it’s important to note the light this sheds on Greek life as a whole. As much negative press as fraternities often garnish in the media, I think this story has attracted a lot of attention from people who normally wouldn’t look twice at a story featuring Greek life.
Even though I’m sure the Greek social scene at Emerson is far different from the one most of us experienced at school, I think the bottom line is that regardless of the circumstances, pledge brothers (and sisters) will have your back (or in this case, your boobs) in the most surprising of ways.
Oh, and if you’re interested in learning more about Donnie’s campaign, check out their Indiegogo page. While you’re there, make sure you swing by the Total Frat Movie page and make your donation, if you haven’t yet. Check out their campaign video below.
Image via Gawker