The jungle theme at University of Richmond fraternity lodges on Sept. 27 had a purpose. The Interfraternity Council organized a fundraiser for the Rainforest Trust — a nonprofit organization that works with local partners to protect tropical lands — with the fraternities that hosted lodges, and set a goal to raise $1,000.

A total of $1,118.88 was raised from individual donations of $2, IFC President Dan Mahoney wrote in an email, and the Rainforest Trust matched every dollar raised. Eighty-seven individual donors participated, including senior Mira Carroll.

“I didn't even end up going to the lodge, but I just figured I would donate because it's a good cause and wanted to contribute to the collective action,” Carroll said. “I think it was cool that they did it through lodges, because it brought awareness to a greater cause and to do the setting of the social environment was cool.”

The IFC advertised the fundraiser with a graphic that was shared on the IFC Instagram page, as well as other social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook. At the lodges, the risk tables had signs, and risk teams would ask if guests were interested in donating.

The fundraiser is part of a larger sustainability movement from the IFC that started last semester, Mahoney said. Other sustainability actions that will be taking place in lodges include a new recycling program once fraternities end their dry period, as well as working with the Richmond Region Energy Alliance and UR’s Office of Sustainability, he said. 

“I think it’s something that we’ve decided is important to us as a Council," Mahoney said. "It’s something I ran on when I was running to be the IFC president. I’m hoping to pursue environmental advocacy post-grad, and so this seemed like as good a place as any to start."

The RREA has already evaluated the lodges for energy efficiency, said Meg Pevarski, associate director to Greek life. The IFC is looking to save power by installing new refrigerators that use less power, insulating windows to better retain heat, lining door frames and changing light bulbs, Mahoney said. 

For the long term, the council is looking to have Greek life more heavily involved with UR’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2020 and is currently talking with professors in the Gottwald Center for the Sciences to get a grant to put solar panels on south-facing roofs on Fraternity Row, as the lodges are currently still heated with oil.

Fraternities have the potential to effect change for the better on campus, Mahoney said.

“We as fraternities are in a position to have a hugely positive impact on this campus through sustainability, through financial inclusivity, through mental health programming,” Mahoney said. “So it’s really important to us to take advantage of the position we hold and use it to effect as much positive change as we can while we’re here.”

For future initiatives, new officers are encouraged to find matters that are meaningful to them.

“When it comes to new officers coming in, I think I would encourage them similar to the way I’ve encouraged this group of leaders to pick issue topics that are important to them and figure out how they can push it, and how that makes sense within their own communities,” Pevarski said.

Contact news writer Eileen Pomeroy at eileen.pomeroy@richmond.edu.