Students and community members filled the Diag Saturday night for a stroll, but not the kind you might first think of.
The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity hosted the sixth annual Stroll Off — a community service event and an invitation to the University of Michigan campus to get to know more about Black Greek organizations.
The night's strolling, a style of dance traditionally performed by many Greek fraternities and sororities of color, also featured performances from Greek and other student groups, simultaneously raising money for each organization’s charity of choice.
Mallory Hardaway, LSA senior and president of Delta Sigma Theta, emphasized the importance of the event.
“We mostly hope to just to bring people in and bring money in for our prospective fundraisers but also to showcase our sororities and fraternities and so that the outside campus can get to know us a little more and the things that we do,” Hardaway said.
Raymond Smith-Byrd, Engineering senior and president of Omega Psi Phi, described how the event also paid tribute to African heritage.
“What we’re doing is showcasing the campus kind of what our organizations are about,” Smith-Byrd said. “So we’re about putting on events for our campus, we all do different events we all do different activities. Some people stroll, my organization we specifically march and we hop, so that’s the type of performance we do and it relates to our heritage in Africa so it goes back to our deep roots.”
LSA junior D’Andre Simpson, president of Alpha Phi Alpha, explained the organization began the Stroll Off at the University six years ago. The Alphas, as they are colloquially known as, wanted to create a casual way for Greek organizations to raise money for charities while also introducing themselves to the rest of the campus.
“This started back in 2012 with the Alphas, and pretty much the older gentlemen in my frat came together and thought about how they could raise money for each Greek org and make it a fun competition,” Simpson said. “That being said, each organization comes out have a set of minutes or so to stroll and raise money for their respective organizations, so pretty much something for the community as well as their specific charity.”
Simpson added he hoped the event would bring various minority communities on campus together.
“We want to make sure that the Black community and the minority community is brought together and with this event we’re doing just that. You can see that the crowd came out to support us, and all the other Greek organizations on campus. It’s always great to see the Greek unity as well as the minority community on U-M campus to come together for an event like this,” Simpson said.
One of the students in the crowd was LSA sophomore Breanna Cross. Cross has attended previous Stroll Offs and talked about how much she enjoys the event — specifically, how it brings the minority community together.
“I think it’s important to have events like these because it’s really special to the minority community,” Cross said. “We like to represent that and definitely our Greek organizations love to do service in the community, so we wanted to make that a part of this as well. I think it’s really important that everyone comes out and supports (the event) because it’s a really great show.”