A crowd of students, alumni, faculty, and friends of Shippensburg University enjoyed Maryland-style crabs in the hockey rink earlier this month in celebration of Crab Fest, an annual event hosted by the African American Organization (Afro-Am).
Afro-Am is run by the Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) office and celebrates the culture of the African-American community on campus.
Although people come for the food, Crab Fest is about more than good crab, dozens of students come to the event to celebrate diversity with friends as they fill their plates.
MSA Director Diane Jefferson lays out the framework for the event each year. For Jefferson, the joy of the yearly event is the togetherness and sense of unity it creates on campus.
“This event is always about unity,” Jefferson said. “It is one of the biggest diversity events we host all school year.”
Last year’s Crab Fest saw a celebration of the life of Aaron Laird, a graduate student and friend of MSA who passed away last August. This year’s fest highlighted diversity and love among the students of the university. It was also used as a way to get first year and transfer students to mingle with the campus community.
“The Crab Fest is a great way to kick off the semester,” said Jiyana Wright, representative of the Student Government and member of the 2017 homecoming court. “It’s a way of relaxing before things pick up in classes.”
Crab Fest is also a way to showcase the different groups that MSA has to offer. Student members from various groups under the MSA umbrella including ELITE Modeling Troupe, Latino Student Organization, D.I.V.A.S, and B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S worked offering an array of food
“It is a way to bring people together and to show what resources MSA has to offer,” said Roneka Jones, representative of the College of Arts and Sciences in the Student Government Association. “It is a way to reach out to the community of Shippensburg and indulge them in culture, food and entertainment.”
An event known for its music and dancing, the DJ this year played various songs such as “Unforgettable” by French Montana and throwback jam “U.N.I.T.Y” by Queen Latifah. The DJ booth lost power halfway through the event, but the party-resilient students bounced back, taking hold of the event by speaking on the importance of diversity and what it means to them.
Besides the crabs there were other food options, such as fried chicken, BBQ ribs, fried fish, corn on the cob, pasta salad, seafood salad, potato salad, sausages, hamburgers and hot dogs giving people plenty of options to choose from. For desserts there was ice cream, cotton candy, cookies and cakes.
“It’s a lot of work that goes into the Crab Fest,” said Jileah Leake, an MSA student worker. “You don’t realize how much work and effort goes into setting up events like the Crab Fest until you partake in it.”
Leake was one of the many student volunteers who helped set up the Crab Fest.
“It was all worth it in the end seeing everyone together,” Leake said.
The Crab Fest is just one of the many events presented by MSA organizations. MSA’s main mission is to spread awareness and cultural understanding for diverse groups of students on campus. If you are interested in getting involved with MSA, come by its office in 100 Gilbert Hall.