As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity hosted its second annual Halloween 5K Against Domestic Violence on Copley Lawn on Friday, which saw 20 more participants than did last year’s event.
The event raised funds for Doorways for Women and Families, a Virginia-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting victims and families affected by domestic violence and homelessness. Participants were encouraged to make a $15 donation.
This year, 195 students and community members signed up as runners, walkers or volunteers for the event, an increase from the 175 that signed up last year. SigEp members do not yet have a number for how much money they raised this year, but they are hopeful it will surpass the $8,357 raised last year.
Other organizations, including Take Back the Night, Georgetown University Women in Leadership, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Hilltop Microfinance Institute and Club Swimming supported the event by coordinating outreach initiatives to increase the number of participants.
In addition to the race, the event included an opportunity for students to interact with representatives from Doorways and a performance by a cappella group Georgetown Superfood.
President of SigEp Chris Tiede (COL ’16) said that the race is one way the fraternity strives to incorporate philanthropic values into its initiatives.
“Within the framework of being men and women for others, philanthropy is really important to us,” Tiede said. “This was an organization that we decided to partner with and we thought that the 5K was a good way to raise money, raise knowledge, raise awareness and address all of those things.”
SigEp was supported with $93 from the Georgetown University Student Association’s budget for unrecognized groups and received help reserving Copley Lawn to host the event.
According to Vice President of Philanthropy for SigEp Charlie Brown (MSB ’17), SigEp faced difficulties securing Copley Lawn for the event, as the fraternity is not recognized and receives no funding or support from the university. Last year, the group booked the lawn through WGTB Georgetown Radio.
Brown said that he was grateful for GUSA’s support.
“I understand the different reasons why the university might not want to recognize us but obviously, when we’re doing something like this, we only have good intentions,” Brown said. “So it’s good that we can have GUSA to support us and help make this possible.”
Brown also said this year’s event was more organized than the one last year.
“Last year, it was kind of thrown together last minute. We definitely didn’t give ourselves enough time to do it. This year, the event went a lot more smoothly and was overall just more fun for everyone,” Brown said.
However, Brown said the fraternity will continue to make improvements to the event in its future iterations.
“There’s also still room for improvement for next year and the year after that. And the goal is that we’re just going to keep building and improving so that this can really stay and become a staple of Georgetown Halloween every year,” Brown said.
President and CEO of Doorways for Women and Families Caroline Jones said the race was successful in raising awareness on the issue of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue. It will truly take all of us really raising our awareness and changing our behavior to eradicate it from our society,” Jones said. “So having this group, at this particular time in our national history and culture, take a stand through this 5K, not to mention the extraordinary fundraising that they’re doing to help fuel the programs that we’re trying to deliver here, it’s just really, really amazing to see.”
Jones added that the event helps to break the stigma of Greek life and young adult activism in general.
“I think it’s a really effective way to put different images in people’s minds about what our young adults look like and what their true potential is as compassionate human beings. So I couldn’t applaud this more loudly. It’s exactly what we need,” Jones said. “I wish that this type of effort would catch on and be even more widespread across other Greek life or just college campuses as a whole.”
Brown agreed that SigEp tries to break the stereotypes of social fraternities through its philanthropic initiatives.
“Georgetown is about men and women for others and I think that this event is a really good example of how we really do encapsulate a lot of the values that Georgetown tries to teach us as students,” Brown said. “Even if we’re not recognized, we’re still able to provide value to the Georgetown experience with this 5K.”
Bella Gerard (COL ’17), who attended the event, praised the event for its charitable aspect.
“The brothers of SigEp make a point to create an event that is both entertaining while still beneficial to others,” Gerard wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The time SigEp puts into their philanthropy work is evident in both the success of the event and the gratitude Doorways For Women and Children no doubt has toward the fraternity.”