Black Tie, Inc. hosts parties in spirit of social activism

The newly formed group Black Tie, Incorporated is putting a new spin on social activism. Created at the beginning of this year by four juniors, the group’s mission is to raise money and awareness for different causes by throwing on-campus parties.

The creators, Henry Ainley ’12, Kojo Boateng ’14, Andres Bueno ’13, Cariad Chester ’13, Jesse Dashevsky ’13, Javier Perez ’13, Will Schulz ’13 and Mark Serrano ’13 research every cause in detail before deciding to support it, trying to target local groups above others.

“Social action causes are frequently underfunded and under-publicized. Black Tie, Inc. addresses both of these challenges with our events. We have developed a sustainable fundraising model and hope to increase campus awareness about the issues we support,” Chester said. “We wanted to use our social capital for social justice.”

Black Tie, Inc. has supported organizations like the Global Health Forum (GHF) of the college, whose current initiative is to eradicate malaria through the purchase and delivery of bed nets in Sierra Leone. The organization was carefully picked for its lack of overhead costs and its effectiveness in tackling the issues surrounding the disease. The party through in which Black Tie, Inc. partnered with GHF was “Speak Easy” themed and even hosted a musician to entertain the crowd.

“Because our events require and entry fee, we feel obligated to exceed the average Swarthmore party experience. I think we are completely successful,” Chester said.

“The Masked Ball” and “Casino Royale” were also parties hosted by the group at Olde Club.

Michael Fishman ’15, who went to a few of the parties, thinks that they have been better organized and on the whole, more fun to attend than other campus parties.

“It’s a win-win situation. You get to have a great place to socialize and de-stress while at the same time raising awareness and money for a cause that can make a tangible impact,” he said.

The group has also worked with tutoring programs and homeless shelters, raising an estimated total of five thousand dollars this year after covering the cost of the parties. According to Chester, the group raised more money for social causes than all of Swarthmore’s student groups combined.

Because the group is private, it does not receive funding from the school, nor can it make use of resources like the RSD and bulletin boards to advertise their events.

According to student Budget Committee (SBC) member Kevin Li ’13, student groups cannot receive funding for events from either SBC or SAC (the Social Affairs Committee) unless they are free of charge. For that reason, Black Tie Inc. is and will remain a non-chartered, or private, group.

The group’s main focus now is to establish the infrastructure necessary to better communicate information both about the parties and organizations to the student body, according to Perez. These efforts include, among other things, establishing the group’s website.

Their next event, dubbed “The Take Your Shirt Off Party,” which unlike its name suggests does not require attendees to take their shirts off, will be collaborating with the student group, Achieving Black and Latino Leaders of Excellence, ABLLE. The money raised will be used to buy textbooks, fund field trips and help provide meals during sessions for ABLLE’s S2K, a mentoring program that partners with the Chester Housing Authority.

“The funds will help ABLLE’s mentoring program sustain itself for a good while until we get a separate grant that will make the work more sustainable” said Perez, who is also a mentor for the program.

After “The Take Your Shirt Off Party,” the group will start the process of allowing organizations to apply for their support.

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