With legs flying and a swim cap on, junior Mark Compton flailed his way into the title of Mr. Hillsdale last Saturday.
Compton and housemates soared across stage in an elaborate water-free synchronized swimming routine as Compton’s entry for the talent section of Pi Beta Phi’s annual Mr. Hillsdale event, a philanthropic male pageant.
The event raised $200 more than last year, bringing in $1,450 for the sorority’s Read, Lead, Achieve literacy program. This total does not include the additional funds raised through Penny Wars, a donation contest run tangentially with Mr. Hillsdale.
“I was excited to try and elevate this event a little bit, and based on the comments I’ve heard from audience members, as well as the money raised, we were successful in doing so,” said junior Genevieve Chiara, Pi Phi’s vice-president of philanthropy.
There were nine contestants in total — three independent, three from Greek houses, and three from sports teams.
“Mr. Hillsdale is my favorite philanthropy event that we do as a chapter because this event brings together so many students from both the Greek and independent student groups on campus,” Pi Phi President senior Charlotte McFaddin said.
While Compton took first place — and the official title of Mr. Hillsdale — he was followed by junior Andres Torres in second and sophomore Jake Sievers in third. Both Compton and Torres were independent representatives, while Sievers represented Sigma Chi Fraternity.
The male pageant include events for formal wear, a costume contest, and a talent. Participants were also tasked with wooing their Pi Phi escorts with pickup lines.
“I had a really good time,” Sievers said. “My main concern was providing the audience with entertainment.”
Junior Lydia Brant, who attended the event, said she appreciated how committed the participants were.
“I think every one of the guys really did give 100 percent,” Brant said. “Nobody held back.”
Brant said Compton’s swimming piece was her favorite talent event.
“It was silly. It involved a lot of guys,” she said. “I liked that he and his friends put in a lot of practice time.”
The truth, Compton admitted, is a little bit different.
“We never did it all the way through without messing up until the actual event,” Compton said.
The pageant also included a speed-reading event, in honor of the purpose of the event, where participants read through Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” as quickly as possible. Although he only took home second overall, Torres did earn the title of Mr. Speed Read.
Pi Phi’s Read>Lead>Achieve program aims to promote literacy.
“Mr. Hillsdale has greatly helped us reach our goal of donating more than $4,000 this year to Pi Phi’s literacy initiatives like Read>Lead>Achieve and Champions are Readers,” Chiara said. “It also helps us contribute to the 100,000 books donated by the Pi Beta Phi Foundation across the country each year.”
The philanthropic nature of the event also inspired more participation.
“It made it a lot more fun to get excited about it, knowing your excitement translates into money for a good cause,” Compton said.
Brant agreed, saying she felt “very comfortable” putting a lot of money into the Penny Wars jars, knowing it was going to a good cause.
Torres praised Pi Phi’s success.
“They’re making money for their cause and raising awareness,” Torres said. “They do a great job with that.”