Often, when people think of a fraternity, images of John Belushi and wild parties spring to mind. The brothers of Yale’s newest fraternity are seeking to dispel that image.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of 25 brothers from Sigma Phi Epsilon, Yale’s newest fraternity, participated in a blood drive at City Hall sponsored by the Red Cross. New Haven was one of 350 stops in the Red Cross’ nationwide Save a Life Tour, a six-month blood drive that the organization regards as its largest initiative to date.

“We thought it would be very important that we get out there in large numbers, because usually when the Red Cross does blood drives in New Haven, Yalies don’t turn out,” said Jordan Barr ’06, who organized the fraternity’s effort.

Jay Korman, the Red Cross coordinator for the drive, said the fraternity contacted the organization two weeks ago and expressed interest in participating as a group. He said the Red Cross was eager to work with them because it is rare for a group to participate in such large numbers.

At a press conference given before the blood drive, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. emphasized New Haven’s ongoing involvement with the Red Cross and said it is important to encourage people to help save lives.

Joan Bennett, a Red Cross worker at the drive, said the Yale community could contribute even more. The New Haven drive is expected to collect 35 pints of blood.

“Yale does a good job [of participating in blood drives], but we know they can do even better based on the number of students and faculty,” Bennett said. She said another blood drive is scheduled at Dwight Hall early next month.

Several Sig Ep brothers said the fraternity plans to participate frequently in community service in addition to hosting the social functions typically associated with Greek life. Barr said the brothers are planning to work with Habitat for Humanity to build houses in the near future.

“The reason that so many of the brothers are giving blood is that we want to have a positive effect on the community,” Sig Ep chaplain Aaron Shelley ’05 said. “We don’t want to be viewed in the same light as the stereotypical ‘Animal House’ frat, because that is not what we are trying to establish on campus.”

While some of the brothers said they had given blood before, others were first-time donors.

“I’m terrified. I’m expecting a lot of pain and dizziness,” Sig Ep brother Charlie Friedman ’06 said.

Nevertheless, Friedman said he believes his fraternity’s participation in the drive was a good idea and that he had always wanted to donate blood. Only those brothers who were ineligible for athletic reasons would not participate, Barr said.

Lisa Lauterbach, a coordinator of the Red Cross Save a Life Tour, said the Save a Life initiative is trying to encourage more people — particularly the young — to become regular blood donors.

“The need for blood is growing, but the donor base is not,” Lauterbach said. “We’re trying to take the fear and mystery out of it.”

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