On Saturday, members of Lafayette’s Greek Life organizations dusted off their cowboy hats and polished their dancing shoes for Pi Beta Phi’s annual Dance Marathon to raise money and awareness for childhood illiteracy prevention.
“[Dance Marathon] really involves our entire community for our cause. Rather than just us doing it ourselves, I think it’s a great way to get people passionate about service and philanthropy,” Ryann Carlotz ‘24, Pi Beta Phi’s director of service and philanthropy, said. “It’s kind of funny because you have all your peers watching you do a silly little dance.”
The event, which consisted of a series of choreographed dances and musical performances, brought together campus sororities and fraternities, as well as singing groups The Mar-keys and A Very Large Trio. Additionally, the Dance Team, Cheer Team and Pep Band performed their game-day routines. This year’s theme was “Wild West.”
“[The Mar-keys] came in different cowboy hats. It was fun because they engaged with our theme. A Very Large Trio did ‘Country Roads’ so that was kind of related to the Western theme, which was cool,” Caitlin Mullooly ‘24, head of the event’s fundraising committee, said.
While Dance Marathon has been a competition in the past, this year it was a low-stakes event focused on bringing the Lafayette community together.
“[We] made a dance the night before; it took like half an hour and then we just performed it the next day,” Alpha Phi member Kat Flanders ’25 said. “I think everyone that was there had so much fun. It was also just supporting and laughing with each other.”
The event promoted community amongst campus’ Greek Life organizations.
“I saw all my other friends that were in Chi Phi and all the other fraternities get together and just mingle. Each fraternity and sorority had their own separate dance, separate gimmick that they’re putting on, but at the end, everyone was together and having fun, laughing and enjoying the time that we’re together,” Delta Kappa Epsilon member Alexander Capetanakis ’25 said.
Despite not supporting every involved organization’s philanthropic cause, Dance Marathon connected almost all the campus fraternities and sororities.
“We should be in the mindset among the Panhellenic community to support other women. Why wouldn’t you want to support other organizations and have that mentality?” Flanders asked. “I think there is support between each organization to where we will show up for each other.”
“It doesn’t matter whether or not the philanthropy causes are directed by us or directed by a different sorority. In the end, they’re just trying to give back to those in need and that’s a cause I feel like is worth attending,” Capetanakis said.
Dance Marathon was held on the Quad in order to attract students outside of Greek Life organizations to the event.
“Having it in a central location on the Quad and having it open so that anyone can walk up, watch and come up to the table and say, ‘Oh, what are you selling? What is this for?’ makes it easier and more accessible for the whole community,” Mullooly said.
Students and Easton community members alike gathered to watch the hoedown, with many participants staying to support all of the acts.
“I think it was really cool that there were a lot of people that stayed the whole time, even after their performance ended or before their performance began. I think it’s really cool when people come to support not just during their one performance, but for the whole entire thing,” Meghan Quirk ’24, head of the decorating committee, said.
Raffles were offered and announced between performances with prizes consisting of donations from local businesses such as Mesa, Ciao Sandwich Shoppe, Chocodiem and Bank Street Creamery, all of whom were eager to support a Lafayette event.
“A lot of our members will go down into Easton and talk directly with business owners,” Abby Skidmore ‘24, vice president of Pi Beta Phi’s community relations, said of the incorporation of local businesses. “I think that’s also a great way that we’re building our relations with people in downtown Easton.”
The event benefited The Literacy Fund and the Friendship Fund through Phi Beta Phi’s national “Read > Lead > Achieve” initiative. The goal of Read > Lead > Achieve is to create a more productive society by fighting childhood illiteracy. In Pennsylvania, 13% of adults lack basic literary skills.
“If you are illiterate, it causes a lot of barriers. If we can provide funds and support to alleviate that and help people be able to read, I think that’s amazing,” Carlotz said. “Those people can grow up and have jobs … they can have more functioning relationships [and] they can have better roles in society. I think that’s all extremely important to live a happy, healthy life.”
The event organizers believe that Lafayette students should be mindful of the opportunities they have because of their access to literary education and work towards awarding disadvantaged children the same opportunities.
“I think we’re all really privileged. We’re all here at Lafayette, we’re getting a really good education and we’re given a lot of opportunities inherently by being able to go to this college,” Quirk said. “I think it’s important to know that, from a young age, children need to be taught really important skills in order to be given these opportunities in the future. Helping to fight illiteracy is one of those things that we can do as an organization and as a community to help kids be successful.”
Additional donations were collected through a Mojo fundraiser and a t-shirt sale. Those interested can learn more about Pi Beta Phi’s national philanthropy efforts at pibetaphi.org/literacy.