It’s springtime, which means that flowers have popped up around campus, birds are chirping and sorority girls are throwing mud at each other.
The mudslinging is for a good cause, as are the pie fights and watermelon wars. Over the past couple weeks, Northwestern sororities have canvassed the campus with advertisements for their annual philanthropy fundraisers. While the expressed purpose of these events is to aid deserving charities, they’re also opportunities for students to get down and dirty.
“Everyone likes getting messy — it’s really just an excuse to do it,” says Pi Phi President Kristine Kohlhepp of the sorority’s annual Pie Phight.
This year’s Pie Phight will feature competitions that go beyond the typical pie-in-the-face. A pie-building relay race is a favorite activity, and according to Kohlhepp, the May 23rd event is being “revamped” with various new challenges designed to get participants as messy as possible.
But will it get dirtier than Alpha Chi Omega’s Watermelon Bust? This is the third year the sorority is teaming up with Lambda Chi in support of ending domestic violence in Evanston. And there’s no better way to raise money for a good cause than to wreak havoc with watermelons.
According to Jillian Marini, organizer of last year’s Watermelon Bust, team challenges at this year’s May 8th event will include tug-of-war over a baby pool filled with watermelon chunks as well as a Dizzy Bat, where the last person on a team of four tries to smash a watermelon after spinning around five times.
“I think it’s a lot of fun and it’s a good way to say, ‘we like to get messy and dirty,’” says Marini. “People like to get messy and they don’t get to do it very often.”
Students will have plenty of opportunities to get grimy the day after Watermelon Bust when Northwestern Facilities Management breaks out the hoses and transforms the Lakefill into a mud arena. May 9th marks the tenth annual Alpha Phi Mud Olympics, a mud-filled event benefiting the Alpha Phi Foundation and Women’s Cardiac Care.
“This is a fun thing for us to do,” says Sophia Pinto, Alpha Phi’s internal philanthropy chair. “Who doesn’t love playing around in the mud?”
Mud lovers will battle it out in tug-of-war, relay races and a competition in which team members will search for items hidden in a mud-filled baby pool. Between games, contestants can let loose on a mudslide, then finish up the day with soccer and volleyball matches — in the mud, of course.
And if you don’t win tug-of-war in the mud, you could try your hand at Jell-O tug-of-war on May 16th when Delta Zeta hosts Jell-O Wars. Participants can also test their Jell-O wrestling and eating skills, and end the day with a relay where winners have the chance to take home gift cards to Buffalo Wild Wings and Le Peep.
So why are so many sisterhoods shedding their squeaky-clean images by promoting the glamor of grime?
“Very often, the more controversial and dirtier events tend to get more participation,” says junior history major Catherine Arney, who has participated in the events in the past. “It all boils down to an attempt to market the events in order to get the most participation, and I think the girls’ hearts are in the right place.”
The sororities have certainly been hard at work getting the word out about their events: Facebook messages and posters around campus eagerly invite the Northwestern community to join the mess fests. Pi Phi sisters are taking it a step further with Pie-a-Phi on May 21st, an event that gives students the chance to toss a pie in sisters’ faces.
“It’s fun just to throw whipped cream and pudding at people,” says Kohlhepp. “When the weather’s nice, people like going out and having fun and letting loose.”
After taking part in past years’ events, Arney describes the fundraisers as “really fun opportunities” with an “emphasis on getting people to participate.” With just a few weeks left in the quarter, there’s no better way to unwind from midterms and prepare for finals than by making a mess for a good cause. So go ahead and get down and dirty.