Sigma Alpha Mu officially kicks off its inaugural SAM SLAM today, 6:30 p.m. at the Rock with special guest appearances by President Donna Shalala and Sebastian the Ibis, organizers said.
Pronounced “Sam Slam,” the weeklong event will raise about $2,000 to benefit children born with HIV/AIDS, through the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, organizers said.
Elizabeth Glaser, founder of the foundation, contracted HIV from a blood transfusion in 1988 and then unknowingly passed it on to her two children Ariel and Josh. She died in 1994.
“Think about when you were fifteen,” said Israel Andrews, founder of SAM SLAM and current Sigma Alpha Mu brother. “Now think about everything you’ve done since then. None of that would have happened if you were born with this disease. Think about that: being born into a life of death where the life expectancy is 15 years of age.”
To help raise funds, SAM SLAM pitted four participating sororities against one another in different events, organizers said.
Penny Wars began in the University Center on Monday and runs until Wednesday. It features a basketball tournament called Bounce 4 Beats, Andrews said.
“You’ll hear our brothers say, ‘a little change goes a long way. Help end pediatric AIDS,'” Andrews said. “It shows how this campus is more than just school. It shows that people care and get involved. Stopping by and taking the time to understand what our philanthropy is about is most important. Even if they only donate 30 cents, that 30 cents will go a long way.”
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, a lot of fun,” said Brette Glick, a Delta Delta Delta sister. “It’s like a little mini-homecoming.”
Opening ceremonies will be followed by an event called SAM Manhunt. Thirty Sigma Alpha Mu brothers will scatter across campus, each with 20 condoms, organizers said.
“The sorority girls have to find a brother and ask him for a condom,” Andrews said. “It’s a good event because it helps promote safe sex. We want to make it public that we as college students take our responsibilities seriously.”
Events tomorrow include a cheer competition beginning at 7 p.m. at the Rathskeller, followed by a brotherhood auction.
The black-tie auction will sell 12 Sigma Alpha Mu brothers to the highest bidder. The brothers have promised prospective buyers anything from back massages to dinner at a fancy restaurant on South Beach, Andrews said.
“I’m looking forward to the auctioning of the men,” Glick said. “It’s always nice to see a man in a suit.”
Events on Saturday also include two 16-year-old guest speakers who will share their experiences of being born and living with HIV.
Ana Garcia, South Florida Representative for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, will also speak.
The talk is open to all University of Miami students and takes place at 1 p.m. in the Flamingo Ballroom.
Closing ceremonies are slated to take place on Sunday, capped off by the first ever awarding of the SAM SLAM Cup. The name of the winning sorority will be engraved on the trophy and passed on each year, Andrews said.
“I had always thought about doing something big for my fraternity,” Andrews said. “If you want to do something huge, you got to reach out and go campus wide.”
Andrews came up with the idea for SAM SLAM in early May last year after learning about pediatric AIDS in a genetics class, he said.
“The greatest thing about Greeks on this campus,” Andrews said, “is that if you have an idea, you’ve got a whole fraternity or sorority behind you, supporting you. This event never could have come to fruition without the support of my brothers.”
Andrews sees this event as a positive example of Greek life on campus.
“The Greek community on this campus has really come together this last year,” Andrews said. “We’ve had to face a lot of adversity, but because of philanthropies like this and others I think we’ve shown that Greek life on this campus is nothing but beneficial.”
Sigma Alpha Mu chapters at Florida International and Tulane have also expressed interest in carrying the event at their universities next year.
“We’re hoping that it spreads nationwide and becomes a legacy,” Andrews said.