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Zeta Tau Alpha hosts annual ‘Big Man on Campus’

By Elizabeth Richardson

As part of Zeta Tau Alpha’s annual Pink Out Week festivities, the all-male beauty pageant, “Big Man on Campus,” was in full swing the night of Oct. 22. 

Contestants show their physical strength to the audience (Meagan McDowell / Staff Photographer).

As one of the sorority’s biggest campus events of the year, tickets quickly sold out, and ZTA was more than halfway towards its goal of raising money for Breast Cancer Education Awareness on just the second day of the week.

Students eagerly lined up at the doors of the Decker Hall Social Space, filling all of the seats and even the floor. The room, like the rest of the campus this past week, was colored in pink for the beauty pageant, while banners and balloons hung on the walls and booths were set up for donations, t-shirt, sticker and pizza sales.

ZTA members dressed in all pink and white, “Think Pink” ribbons pinned on their shirts in support of the cause. Some members also wore name tags with the names of people for whom they were making strides.

Ashley Seeger, a sophomore early childhood education and psychology dual major and sister of ZTA, shared her mother’s survival story and how raising money and awareness for breast cancer has changed her life.

“It makes me feel like I’m actually making a difference in something, which is so great because I’ve always had such a strong belief in this cause because of my mom, but now I actually am doing things that are going to benefit other people who are going through this,” Seeger said.

Nine students competed for the title of “Big Man on Campus,” participating in three different rounds testing their knowledge, physical strength and special talents. Dressed to impress, the contestants went through numerous outfits throughout the night, including an inflatable pink sumo wrestling suit and a Frank Sinatra-inspired look. Although the allure of winning was undeniable, many of the participants’ motives were to raise breast cancer awareness.

Contestant Dan Birger, a junior interdisciplinary business major and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, weighed in on his chances of being crowned.

“I put a lot of work into this and raised a lot of money for the cause,” Birger said. “But honestly, this is bigger than the competition, it’s all about spreading awareness and what the money raised is going towards.”

The first portion of the event consisted of contenders answering true or false trivia questions about breast cancer. The competitors’ knowledge was put to the test when asked questions like “can men get breast cancer?” and “is the risk of breast cancer lowered by exercising?,” both of which are true. 

Rounds such as the pick-up line and pushup contest earned many laughs from the audience, as well as roaring cheers for fan favorites. 

For the final round, contestants dazzled the crowd with their special skills in the talent portion, which was filled with routines consisting of singing, dancing, rapping, guitar playing, juggling and karate, as well as a comedic dog training course that substituted the dogs with people.

Contender Mike Conyngham, a junior mechanical engineering major and member of Phi Kappa Tau, stood proudly on stage as he was crowned winner and handed a decadent bouquet of flowers. Friends and fans stormed the stage in support, and Conyngham raised his arms high in the air victoriously. 

Reflecting on Pink Out Week, Samantha Casey, a sophomore early childhood special education major and sister of ZTA, believed the week provided a way for students to show support for a cause that affects many people in their lives. 

“It can happen to anyone,” Casey said. “It can happen to you, it can happen to someone you know. It’s important to be involved in your community and help such a big cause like this.”

Seeger commented on the importance of students understanding how devastating breast cancer can be for people.

“Spreading awareness is extremely important,” Seeger said. “Without educating people you’re never going to be able to make real change.”


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