Project Emerson hosts an Affair to remember

by Beacon Staff • December 12, 2007

In an effort to increase awareness of student organizations on campus, fashion group Project Emerson and co-ed fraternity Zeta Phi Eta sponsored a Black and White Affair in the campus center.,Students walking through the multi-purpose room in Piano Row on Dec. 5 might have been feeling a little bit colorblind.

In an effort to increase awareness of student organizations on campus, fashion group Project Emerson and co-ed fraternity Zeta Phi Eta sponsored a Black and White Affair in the campus center. At the event, everyone received index cards to use as business cards and pens to take down others' contact information. Foods and drinks were served, and an impromptu fashion show was held to promote Project Emerson's involvement. Students in semi-formal attire had the chance to become familiar with the opportunities to get involved at Emerson.

"What began as solely a networking event was also a social event, with the black and white theme coming from Project Emerson," said Timmy VanWart, a sophomore marketing communication major. "Tying it in to both Zeta and Project Emerson just made sense, since the two complement the purpose of the event."

VanWart, president of Project Emerson and public relations chair for Zeta, said about 50 students actually attended the Black and White Affair, with many coming and going around their respective schedules.

"Some students just don't know where they stand, and this is a chance to really find their fit at Emerson," VanWart said. He was inspired to create such an event after he joined Zeta last spring, and saw the opportunity to bring Project Emerson and Zeta together in the interest of promoting student life.

Sophomore marketing communication major Marita Sarad said she attended the event in order to branch out. As an orientation leader and a member of Zeta, the EVVYs organization and the Public Relations Student Society of America she said she still recognizes the importance of meeting students with other interests.

"With events like this, you can meet people you wouldn't meet otherwise," Sarad said. "People really seem to be getting into the idea of networking, too, which is really good."

VanWart said the idea was first introduced last year, but the event had to be postponed until the group could receive funding from student government. Now that the organization has been recognized, they were able to afford to host the affair.

"There was more red tape than we thought, so we took the extra time we had to try to capitalize on the idea as much as we could," VanWart said. "We wanted to make it the best it could possibly be."

Sophomore print journalism major Terri Ciccone, creative vice president of Project Emerson and a staff writer for The Beacon, said the Black and White Affair is one of the group's first campus-wide events for students to learn more about the organization.

"We really wanted to make it special since it's basically our first shot at this, and if students see what we're about, they will hopefully come to events in the future," Ciccone said. She said Project Emerson has plans for a spring fashion show and another Black and White Affair in the works.

Sophomore Shannon Lehotsky, executive vice president of Project Emerson, said the opportunity to attend the affair was extended to the entire student body.

"We thought, who would you want to meet on campus if you were trying to get involved?" Lehotsky said. Three hundred VIP invitations were e-mailed to campus leaders, who could then promote the event to members of their organizations.

Each VIP attendee had an opportunity to speak about their organizations so attendees could get more information about their work on campus.

Along with the word-of-mouth promotion, Project Emerson and Zeta hung flyers and made announcements throughout November to promote the event.

After the efforts made to encourage students to attend, VanWart said he was hoping for a better turnout, but others were more positive about the attendance.

"There was a constant flow throughout the evening," said Sarah McTeague, a sophomore video and media arts major and member of Project Emerson. "We were able to get everything we needed within our budget too, which is a real relief."

After the Black and White Affair didn't pan out last spring, VanWart approached Zeta's leaders to suggest co-sponsorship and said the frat was quick to help out.

"I told them we wanted it to also be a public relations event to change people's minds about Greek life while promoting the positive aspects of a professional fraternity," VanWart said. "They were very positive about it and saw it as a great opportunity to promote Zeta as well."

VanWart said before the event he hoped everything would go as planned, but he was prepared to improvise if something went wrong.

"With every event I've planned for both Zeta and Project Emerson, there's been a huge crisis at the last minute," VanWart said. "But I am very confident about this event, and we always seem to work it out."