By Sade Smith, News Editor
In direct coalition with the AIDS Action Committee in Boston, Sigma Phi Rho Fraternity Incorporated is once again creating a show that both raises awareness and entertains crowds.
In the Main Auditorium on Saturday, October 8, singers, dancers, and spoken word poets will grace the stage with eye opening performances.
Before any promotion and invites for the show went out, Sigma Phi Rho Incorporated participated in the annual AIDS walk in June, held in downtown Boston.
For Raudney Bordeau, a junior Finance major and Vice President of Sigma Phi Rho, this is the fraternity’s best way to volunteer outside of school.
They have also organized a clothing drive, encouraging UMass Dartmouth students to give what they can.
The group plans to reveal a unique gift to the university, one similar to the hand-made quilt that hangs in front of the Main Auditorium which was a gift from the 2001 fraternity.
Additionally, this year’s AIDS benefit show will be hosted by Instagram personality Lorenzo Cromwell, found @callhimrenny.
Full of new acts, the fraternity hopes to both entertain and enlighten the masses, using the show as a platform to focus on the ongoing AIDS epidemic. With previous years’ donation amount of $4,000, members are hopeful to double this year’s donations.
Bordeau says, “We want people to come out knowing more facts about AIDS, especially in our communities.”
The show started about fifteen years ago to help raise awareness for AIDS, specifically on college campuses and neighboring communities. On a college campus where one in every eight women and one in every sixteen men live with the disease, the fraternity is determined to initiate change.
Prior to Saturday’s show, the fraternity will host a series of events during the week to further engage the campus community in raising awareness.
Bordeau lists events such as free HIV testing on site and a sex education class in partnership with UMass Dartmouth Peer Health Educators. This class will also provide participants with a “sex packet”, complete with male condoms and female dental dams.
The Friday before the annual event will be a “red out” day. Members of the fraternity as well as any on-campus faculty, staff and students will be decked out in the symbolic color as another way to raise attention to this global issue.
At a capacity of almost 900 for last year’s AIDS benefit show, Bordeau has high hopes for this year in terms of educating the show’s audience.
By working closely with the Boston-based AIDS Action Committee, the group has been able to successfully raise money for their main cause: advocating for fair and effective AIDS policy at the city, state, and federal levels.
The fraternity has worked very closely with the AAC to create a show that is going to impact people to take action, and the event will even include a speaker who has experience with AIDS treatment.
Performances will include off-campus characters that will use their talent to spread knowledge about AIDS and its local impact in the Black communities. “One of the main goals of the show is to raise awareness. We’ve been working hard on the show.”
Auditions have been going on since Monday, September 26, and, according to Bordeau, competition has been tight in narrowing down options for performers. The group is looking for something “new and unique” to what the campus has already seen.
During these first weeks of school, Sigma Phi Rho Incorporated has tabled, snapchatted, tweeted about the event, and sold tickets to on and off campus guests. They hope to fill the auditorium with bodies while filling their guests’ heads with knowledge.
During the 2015 show, Keith Orr, Director of the AIDS Action Committee in Boston, spoke about AIDS and what the audience can do to prevent being infected. “Whether it’s unprotected sex, or any other unhealthy activities that put you at risk,” he said, “the AIDS Action Committee can help with it all.”