Latino Caucus, Taiwanese-American Student Club to sponsor couples

Although the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon has traditionally been a Greek event, more organizations outside the Greek system are participating each year, including many minority groups.

Last year the first Asian couple participated in the dance marathon, and this year, two more minority organizations will be sending couples. Latino Caucus and the Taiwanese-American Student Club will each be sending a couple to dance marathon.

For the Latino community at Penn State, it is the first time a Latino couple from the Caucus will be dancing to benefit the fight against cancer -- and the first year Latino Caucus has had enough members to raise funds to participate in the dance marathon.

"This is the perfect year that we've grown enough that we have been able to fully participate in 'Thon," said Ruben Bermejo (junior-international politics), one of the dancers for Latino Caucus.

Edna Hernandez, Latino Caucus president, makes up the other half of the couple. She said she hopes that because of their participation, members of the Latino community will see the marathon is not just an event for the Greek community.

One of Latino Caucus's goals is to provide opportunities for Latino students, and one way is to participate in an event that is a tradition at the University, Hernandez said.

"Whatever nationality we are, we are still a part of the Penn State community," Hernandez said.

For the Asian community, this year is a continuation of the efforts. Last year, the Asian-American Student Coalition, along with Lambda Phi Epsilon, a service/social Asian-American fraternity, raised enough funds to send their first couple to 'Thon.

This year, AASC, along with the Asian fraternity and Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, a service/social Asian sorority, will be sending a couple. In addition, another Asian couple from TASC will be joining them on the dance floor for the first time.

One reason that more minority organizations are not involved in the dance marathon is because information about the event was not available to them early enough in the school year for them to raise the money to register, said Alvin Wang, TASC president.

"I don't think a lot of them hear about it in time," he said.

TASC is able participate this year because they had the information about the marathon with enough time to raise the funds, said Wang, one of the dancers.

Another factor preventing some organizations from participating is the difficulty in raising the initial $500 to dance.

"Hopefully, we will show that it is not such a difficult task to raise the money," Bermejo said.

With more minority couples participating in the dance marathon now, hopefully more minority organizations will participate in the future, Wang said.

"As they see more minority couples dancing in it, they'll see that it's really easy to get started," Wang said. "It's a good way to increase their visibility on campus, to raise awareness about whatever issues they're concerned with and to raise support for the kids."