While some student groups are organizing more traditional fundraisers, geology graduate student Parker Williams is daring Santa Barbara County locals to care about the victims of recent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region with a pink tutu, a mustache and plagiarized poetry.
Williams said he is currently accepting dares in exchange for money that he will give to hurricane relief efforts. Thus far, he has raised $4,500 from fellow students and local community members who reached him – and still can – through his website, www.daringiscaring.org. He said he will continue his campaign through Nov. 1. and is currently looking for a business or organization to match the funds he has already raised.
Williams said he believed he had bad karma and was looking for ways to improve his spiritual standing in the world when friend and fellow geology graduate student Brian Osborne suggested he raise money for hurricane victims by accepting dares for monetary donations to the Santa Barbara Chapter of the American Red Cross.
“It was the best idea I ever heard,” Williams said. “I felt like I needed to do one big thing to help.”
Besides local stares, Williams said he has attracted national attention with articles in newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle and he received an award last week for “Website of the Day” on Netscape.com. He said he was slated to be interviewed by Fox News in Seattle until a scheduling error prevented his appearance.
During his appearance on local radio station KTYD FM 99.9, Williams said, he was dared to become a “Human Doggie Biscuit.”
“They took me downtown and covered me in Kibbles ‘n Bits and people paid to have their dogs lick me clean,” Williams said.
Other dares completed by Williams include wearing a pink tu-tu for a week, growing a mustache until Nov. 1 and most recently receiving $100 a day to spend the week as a pregnant woman. To fulfill the latest dare, Williams said he has been carrying a large ball under his shirts and a toy doll that is slung around his shoulder.
Williams said he also attended a coffee shop poetry reading in Venice Beach for a dare, during which he tried to pass off “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as his own work.
With a week left of fundraising, Williams said he is happy with what he has done so far.
“I feel good that I did a good thing,” he said.
Although no dares are involved, other student organizations including Sigma Nu Fraternity have successfully completed or are continuing with their own fundraising initiatives.
Sigma Nu, along with several sororities, recently completed a week of fundraising events called the “Sigma Nu Relays,” said Zack Goldstein, Sigma Nu President. The Relays raised roughly $4,500, which will be divided between Direct Relief International and the Isla Vista Youth Project, Goldstein a senior dramatic arts major said. The event also raised $800 in food and clothing donations that will be shipped directly to Hurricane Katrina victims via Relief International.
The Relays included a benefit concert with musician Kevin Misajon and bands Fresh Coast and Green City, which featured Sigma Nu members Ila Parvaz and Saba Javaheri said admission to the concert was free to all attendees who brought a food or clothing donation for Gulf Coast hurricane survivors.
The Wildcat Sorority Fashion Show and the Coyote Ugly Sorority Dance Competition were also featured in the Relays, Goldstein said. Both events raised money through ticket sales.
Kaitin Bhakta, a second year biology major and vice president of the UCSB chapter of the Red Cross, said he was pleased with the fundraising efforts of fellow students.
“It is good to see people get involved,” Kaitin said.