“Free” is a favorite word for college students.
Every Friday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Student Center atrium, Free Food and Fun Friday takes place. The event features an assortment of food and a variety of entertainment.
“The purpose of Free Food and Fun Fridays is to create a healthy atmosphere for students and an alternative event where students can come instead of having them go drink their brains out,” said Eduardo Bechara, a graduate extern who organizes the weekly event.
“Even if people come for a little bit and then leave, they were at least in a healthy atmosphere for part of the night and have something in their stomach if they do decide to drink.”
Fridays’ events are kicked off with large buffets, which, hence the weekly event’s name, are all free.
“The main reason I come to Free Food and Fun Fridays is for the pizza, and I will continue to come as long as the food is free,” said Brian Gowen, a sophomore English major.
In previous weeks, buffets have consisted of mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings and other enticing items like chocolate fondue accompanied with strawberries, cake and marshmallows.
An hour into the event, the buffet is replaced with hoagies, which are followed by pizza about an hour later to wrap up the night of food and fun.
“People love hoagies and pizza,” Bechara said. “We’re giving people what they want.”
Free Food and Fun Fridays have taken place for the past few years but have recently become better known when Bechara took over the events a year ago.
“I introduced a lot of changes such as this logo,” said Bechara, pointing to his T-shirt that displayed “˜Free Food and Fun Fridays”™ in large letters.
“I wanted to create a cool atmosphere and a cool image for Free Food and Fun Fridays, and that’s why I have a DJ and other fun activities. People always love being in a cool place to hang out.”
Bechara said the event is moving forward and becoming very successful. The turnouts vary, but there are usually around 350 students who attend throughout the night.
Previous events included a Brazilian carnival, Bingo and a Bengali night.
Temple’s Health Education Awareness Resource Team occasionally co-sponsors Free Food and Fun Fridays and hosts events promoting safe sex.
During an event hosted by HEART, participants put their knowledge and creativity to the test in a game of Sex Jeopardy. Teams came up with names like “Team Sex Addicts and “Team Sex in the City,” answering questions from categories titled “Oh Baby Baby,” “Just Wear It!,” “Know Where?” and “Anything Goes.”
Other activities included a special game of checkers, in which black and red checker pieces were replaced with condoms and a raffle based off guesses of the number of condoms in a jar. Prizes like sex games and toys were given away.
Free Food and Fun Fridays often include prizes, which in the past have been MP3s, iPod shuffles and Temple blankets.
“I like coming here because I always win a lot of prizes,” said junior women’s studies major Arielle Catron, one of the winners of the Sex Jeopardy game who received a free sex-themed prize.
Last Friday’s event, African-American Heritage Night, featured an African dance and drum ensemble. Future Friday nights will include a multicultural Valentine’s Day event, a stepping showcase and an open mic night.
The event seems to give Temple students like junior theater major Aaron Stall a reason to return.
“Every time I’ve been here,” he said, “there’s always been something new to experience.”
Grace Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.