Step off stomps onto campus

Jenny Rohl/The News

Story by Da’Sha TuckStaff writer

Jenny Rohl/The News

Jenny Rohl/The News

All Greek and non-Greek students were united on March 17 for one cause at this year’s Alpha Step Off, a 16-year tradition that had students sleeping on the steps of Lovett Auditorium in anticipation.

“We wanted to be the first people to ever sleep outside of Lovett the night before the step show and hopefully start a trend,” said Georgia Keeney, freshman Kappa Delta from Providence, Kentucky.

The brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha host the Alpha Step Off every spring as a philanthropy event. This year, the fraternity raised about $15,000 for the March of Dimes, which researches birth defects and helps mothers carry their babies to term.

For the second year in a row, Alpha Sigma Phi took the win for the fraternity division. Kappa Delta won in the sorority division, and they were also the overall winners of the week’s activities, including change wars and the banner contest.

However, when members of the step teams were asked what they knew about the history of stepping only a few knew where stepping originated.

Stepping can be traced back to Africa. The Divine Nine (National Pan-Hellenic Council Organizations) are known for stepping and strolling, including Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Beta Sigma, Iota Phi Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho.

“I think it is great that the [Interfraternity Council] and Pan-Hellenic organizations participate in the step show,” said Shelby Hubbard, member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and junior from Dyersburg, Tennessee. “It takes a lot of time and participation to put together a routine; however, sometimes the event is so sensationalized that people don’t recognize the rich history behind stepping.” 

Hubbard said that, to her, stepping is about creative expression and showing pride in the organization she is a part of.

“As an African American, stepping is also about connecting with my African roots,” Hubbard said.

Each fraternity and sorority is coached by a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha.

“I myself have expressed to my team why our organizations enjoy stepping and why it’s something we are passionate about,” said Ariel Watson, member of Delta Sigma Theta and senior from Lexington, Kentucky, who was involved with coaching Alpha Sigma Phi. “I try to get them to express the love they have for their organizations through their performance so they have passion throughout their show.”

Watson said the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha do a great job with the step off every year, finding new ways to keep the event entertaining, like having emcees who can keep the crowd excited in between each performance.

She said at one point the history of stepping was incorporated throughout the night, but that eventually faded out as the event itself became more popular.

“It has evolved into one of the biggest traditions at Murray State so the history isn’t as important to the groups as winning is,” Watson said.

Watson said she enjoyed being involved in Alpha Sigma Phi’s process that led them to another victory on the stage of Lovett.

Each Greek organization has its traditions and values but no matter what the differences are, they all have at least one common factor: pride for their organizations and the willingness to get together and raise money for a cause.

“It’s one of the most exciting philanthropy events to attend,” said Elizabeth Hernandez, member of Kappa Delta and junior from Murray. “Plus, all the money goes to a great cause. If there is anyone out there who hasn’t gone to step show, I advise them to because I know they won’t regret it.”