Temple’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America hosted their first fund-raising event of the semester this past Wednesday with an open-mic night, aptly named “From Your Heart.”
The event got off to a troubled start due to some miscommunication between PRSSA and the Student Activities staff.
Meredith Avakian, the fund-raising head of PRSSA, said Student Activities lost the paperwork that the group had submitted requesting the room, and the microphone equipment.
“They messed it up,” Avakian said.
They quickly fixed the problem with the room, but could not provide a sound system, since the only one in operation was already being used.
It was not the only problem that the organization had to contend with.
“Temple Today didn’t put us in there after I put it in two and a half weeks ago,” Avakian said.
The lack of publicity, and the fact that there were two other similar events on campus at the same time led to a lower turnout than expected. By the end of the night, however, the room was filled with students looking for an outlet for their creative talents.
The evening began with some original poetry readings, and then moved on to the first musical act of the night, guitarist David Corbett’s songs “I Cannot Forget You” and “America.”
The country became a major theme of the night as more and more people read poems and sang songs about the war in Iraq, symbols of freedom and the president.
Jill Telford, a freshman anthropology major, read about her frustrations with the state of the country. Performing her poems in public for the second time ever, Telford received an enthusiastic round of applause for her criticism of President Bush and the war.
Another topic that was common throughout the evening was racism.
Keshi Elegbe’s poem, “Undefined” was about people’s perceptions of him. Another poem, “Frustrations of the Dark-Skinned Girl,” was read about the difficulties that African women face every day.
Audience member Danielle Williams, senior public relations major, commented on the effect that the event and the poetry had on her.
“I think it definitely helped to give people from all different backgrounds the chance to see what spoken word, especially originating from the African tradition, is all about,” Williams said.
Along with organizing the event, Avakian was also an active participant, performing her spoken-word acts about a subject that brought cheers from the audience: sex.
Her poem, titled “Penetration,” produced good-natured catcalls from the audience, who were quickly silenced during her powerful reading about the act.
Reading about such a sensitive subject in front of a large group of people didn’t faze Avakian, who has read her work at other events, and said that she wasn’t nervous about performing at all.
“I haven’t done it in a few months, but last year I did it a lot on campus,” Avakain said.
The evening ended on a sweet note, with Devon Reed covering Mary J. Blige’s song, “Sweet Thing.” The audience participated in the song, adding to the sense of community the evening promoted.
After all of the performances were through, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, from both the participants and the audience members.
Rachel Summers, the president of PRSSA, was pleased with the event, especially since this is the first project under the group’s new leadership.
“This is a whole new executive board, and we’ve never had a fund-raising board before,” Summers said.
She added that the group itself would be undergoing big changes in its mission.
“We’re trying to make [PRSSA] a bigger club and organization than it was before. … Normally, we’ve just had guest speakers and that’s pretty much it. So now we’re trying to make up events,” Summers said.
The fund raising for this event was for the group’s annual trip to the national conference. This year, the conference will be held in Miami.
Chris Anderson, a sophomore member of the group, felt that despite the circumstances, the event went well.
“I think there was a good vibe.” Anderson said.
Emily Catalano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.