The University of Wisconsin Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, more commonly known as FIJI, raised more than $3,200 Saturday to benefit the Red Cross’ efforts in Haiti through their “Dance for Haiti” fundraiser.
FIJI member and UW senior Nathan Dau-Schmidt said the fraternity talked about ways they could help disaster relief in Haiti last week and settled on throwing a party.
UW senior Tyler Warner, another planner of the event, said the Interfraternity Council ordinarily requires requests for philanthropic events to be submitted at least a week in advance, but due to the amount of relief needed, they allowed FIJI to go ahead with their plans.
“You’re putting two great things together — Haiti relief and dancing — and no one can turn it down,” Warner said.
He added getting the party approved by the FIJI president was another challenge, but after three hours of explanation they were allowed to throw the event.
The next challenge for FIJI was to get as many students as they could to attend. Warner said 20 minutes after creating a Facebook event, more than 200 people promised to attend.
FIJI asked for a minimum donation of $5. Because it was a philanthropic event, no alcohol was served at the party.
The party began at 10 p.m. and quickly amassed more than 575 attendees. Dau-Schmidt said the fraternity eventually had to turn an estimated 100 people away when the party reached capacity.
Unfortunately, around 12:45 p.m., someone pulled the fire alarm, and the house had to be evacuated.
Warner said he was very upset about the fire alarm being pulled. He said he believed FIJI could have raised up to $5,000 if the party could have continued on a large scale.
“Why would someone do that since it’s such a good cause?” Warner said.
According to Dau-Schmidt, only about 100 people stayed to dance again when the house was cleared to enter. Warner added the 100 people who stayed danced until almost 6 a.m.
FIJI members said with the exception of the fire alarm they thought the event was a great success.
“I think it was a complete success and we’d like to have it in the future and it was really short notice and everyone came together,” Dau-Schmidt said.
The dance party is not the only thing FIJI is doing to raise money for Haiti relief. Warner said he and other FIJI members calling themselves “Wisco for Haiti” are planning more fundraisers, including other dance parties and a “Hearts for Haiti” T-shirt sale.
Associated Students of Madison is also trying to raise money for Haiti relief. According to ASM Academic Affairs Chair Jonah Zinn, ASM will be hosting a Haiti Relief Day of Action Thursday.
Zinn said ASM will have tables set up all around campus with people giving information on how to donate and taking donations themselves, all for the Red Cross.
ASM is also in communication with State Street restaurants to donate a percentage of their proceeds for a day to the Red Cross, Zinn said.
He said they have already gotten positive feedback from State Street Brats, Five Guys and Hawk’s Bar & Grill.
-Adelaide Blanchard contributed to this report