Mardi Gras ‘a learning experience’

The Diversity Center held its first student-organized Mardi Gras celebration on Feb. 21 in the Residential College dining room.

The event featured Butler University’s Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Matt Pivec, assistant director of music, Cajun cuisine provided by Yats, psychic readings and a Mardi Gras Faux Floats contest.

Bobbie Gibson, assistant director of the Diversity Center, said the budget could only accommodate 80 people initially, but that number was expanded to 200 when Residence Life made the event its annual “All Hall” Celebration.

“At the end of the evening, we served 310 meals,” Gibson said, “though I don’t think that is representative of how many people came through.”

The Diversity Center Council, or DC2, received a grant from REACH to help fund the event, UnoBlessed Coons, vice president of diversity programming for R.E.A.C.H., said.

In addition, Gibson said $200 was contributed to DC2 from the budgets of each Diversity Center organization. Three organizations’ balances did not have a sufficient balance to donate the full $200, so a lesser amount was given instead.

In an email sent to those organizations, Gibson said she “would never put the organization in jeopardy of being inactive” and also did not want to prevent them from participating.

“I think we got our money’s worth,” Colleen Quilty, sophomore gender, women and sexuality studies major and president of Demia, said. “It was an overwhelming success.”

Though this is DC2’s first year celebrating Mardi Gras, Gibson said she hopes it will become an annual event.

“We are planning on making things more efficient and more organized so everything goes more smoothly next year,” Erika Ocampo, freshman pharmacy and Spanish major and DC2 member, said. “We could try to expand it to Greek life.”

Gibson said it was great to see what could be done with so many organizations collaborating and was happy to see people connecting and becoming friends.

“It was a learning experience for them, and it was a learning experience for me,” she said. “But I wanted it to be their project. I wanted it to be their success. It exceeded my wildest expectations.”

Ocampo said the group worked well together and made Mardi Gras happen.

“It was good because it taught everyone to take the initiative to be more involved on campus and to expand diversity,” she said.

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