Maine winters are synonymous with cold temperatures and snow. But for the brothers of Beta Theta Pi, Friday night was an opportunity to take a stand on an important issue – all while braving the elements.
The brothers of Beta held their 11th annual Sleep Out for Rape Response Services of Bangor from 6 p.m. Friday evening to 6 a.m. Saturday morning. All 44 Beta brothers stayed outside for the duration of the event as a protest against violence and rape on college campuses.
An official figure of attendance for this year’s event is not yet available, but is estimated at more than 400 people, and approximately $1,400 was raised, according to Beta philanthropy chair Eric DeGrass. That figure will probably rise another $300 or so from pledges that have not come in yet, he said.
Last year’s event drew 300 people and raised $2,600, DeGrass said. Local businesses donate cash and prizes such as a one-year membership to the YMCA and gift certificates to local restaurants for a raffle, DeGrass said. Brothers sold tickets for the raffle in Memorial Union all last week and tickets were available at the Sleep Out as well.
“It went excellent. We raised a substantial amount of money for a great organization,” DeGrass said.
“I think it went really well -it’s a really great cause,” said Rebeckah Sergi, a sister of Delta Zeta, one of the many organizations that donated money to the event.
Beta Vice President Jeff Burt said he hoped attendants of the UMaine hockey game against Providence Friday night would attract people to stop by before and after the game.
“Even if they don’t stay for a long time, it’s nice to see people come to the bonfire and listen to the message we are try to get out to people,” Burt said.
Sergi said she thinks traffic from Friday’s UMaine hockey game helped to bring recognition to the event and raise some more money.
“It drew a lot of attention and a lot of people were saying, ‘Oh, what’s that over there?'” Sergi said. “I think it drew a lot of great PR for it.”
Lambda Chi Alpha brother and Sleep Out attendee Craig Fortier also felt the hockey game brought in a lot of welcome support.
“It went rather well, especially after the hockey game with all the crowds going back and forth,” Fortier said. “[The Beta brothers] support a good cause.”
Beta’s 12-hour event featured performances from bands Just Like Joey and Now Transmission, and one of the Beta brothers served as a DJ for most of the night. A speaker from Men Can Stop Rape, a program based in Washington, D.C., discussed rape and sexual abuse and how the public can fight it. The brothers also served donated food and beverages throughout the night.
All of the money Beta raises during the sleep out will be donated to Rape Response Services in Bangor, a non-profit organization whose primary service is a 24-hour hotline available to anyone with concerns about sexual violence. The organization also sponsors education programs in various local schools to raise awareness about rape and sexual abuse.
“Beta has consistently organized this and drawn people together not only from campus but from the community at large to take a stand on the issue,” Safe Campus Project coordinator Carey Nason said. “I think Beta’s done a great job showing it’s not just a woman’s issue”
“Rape is such a serious issue on college campuses nationwide and it needs to be stopped,” DeGrass said. “We want people to know how important this cause is to us. It’s not so much that Rape Response is a worthy recipient as it is that we are privileged to be involved with such an organization that does such positive things for this community, and, more importantly, this campus.”
The money will be given to Rape Response Services in about two weeks, once all the money from the event has come in, DeGrass said.