Stroll to the Polls V: A Night to Never Forget

On Saturday, October 28th, Her Campus at CNU had the pleasure of attending and covering an amazing event, hosted by the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc: the fifth installment of their annual Stroll to the Polls. Read on to hear about the event’s history, its purpose, and how Saturday night will influence generations of Captains and members of the community for years to come. To help us out with the specifics, we reached out to Nassir Criss, a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha and organizer of the event.

Kappa Kappa Psi performing a classic routine

What Even Is Stroll?

Stroll is an event that provides both entertainment and information to the attendees. Student organizations come together and compete in a Stroll competition and are judged by five judges, and in between performances there are speakers who are active in the political and voting atmospheres. Naz tells us that it "was the brain child of Gamma Line, the Third Line to ever be initiated in the chapter, specifically by our Big Brother Benjamin Kite Roseberry. He passed the idea along to the next line, Delta Line, comprised of Big Brothers Jonathan Dari Echols, Calvin Terrell Stanford Jr., and Javan Israel King Walker.” According to Naz, the first year Stroll to the Polls was held in 2013, the Gaines Theater sold out and so the event had to be moved to the Ferg (which means they have to reserve the space at least a year in advance!). In fact, this year’s Stroll hosted the highest rate of attendance: 1200. Considering the brothers spend most of their summer break calling, planning, and anticipating the event in the Fall, that attendance number is well worth the hectic whirlwind of scheduling speakers and contacting judges.

The judges are actually members of one of the 9 NPHC organizations; this year, two of the judges were even professors! Naz mentions that, even though there’s only five judges seats, the Alphas always try to include everyone: “We try to rotate these organizations each year so that we can always have different representations.” The judges have been willing to do this pro bono each year, and Naz says that they are eternally grateful for them for that.

One of the judges and CNU professor, Dr. Angela Spranger

What’s the Mission of Stroll?

As exciting and invigorating as the performances are, there’s a purpose to Stroll to the Polls. As you can probably tell from its namesake, Stroll is just as much about getting people to vote as it is about inviting organizations to try their hand at a type of performance they might not normally do. Nassir explains it pretty perfectly: “A Voteless People is truly a Hopeless People. And what we try to inspire in those around us, is initiative. We hope that everyone will leave Stroll feeling not only a little more aware but motivated to educate themselves and then take action. It could be within your friend groups, your family, your clubs and organizations, no matter where it stems from, we simply want to ensure that everyone who attends feels they can go out and make a difference.” The speakers between performances come from a range of backgrounds: some a politicians, some are activists. No matter what, each has a similar message to reinforce: Vote!

Delta Gamma performing an intense routine

The brothers also see this event as a way to bring more diversity to campus. Naz mentions that it’s about creating an open dialogue, while also showing campus that the brothers have a mission and goals for the community: to inspire and then take initiative of that inspiration. For 8 men to be able to pack a concert hall full of over 1000 people is no small feat. “Our hope is that the CNU community will again feel empowered no matter what their ideas are, if they have something that they can envision big or small we want them to feel that they can compile their resources and do it,” Nassir says. “Nothing can be accomplished alone and so our hope is that to CNU and the community and beyond that people will feel empowered to chase those ideas and make those things happen.”

Gamma Phi Beta holding a difficult pose during their routine

What’s the Experience Like?

The entire event is invigorating. The performers all come with their game faces on, ready to win what’s probably the most coveted trophy on campus. Saturday’s event featured performances from a variety of organizations, all dosed with heavy talents. The groups mixed pieces from dance and Step, and there wasn’t a group that didn’t have some kind of crowd pleasing effect. Music pulsed, crowds hollered and cheered. “Seeing the audience reactions to all of the performances is my favorite part,” Nassir says. “All of the teams performing, the judges, the crowd, backstage, when all of the moving parts come together and we get to put on a great show for the campus I’m beyond excited.”

Alpha Phi Alpha performing with alumni at the end of the event

In fact, Stroll was the inciting event that fostered the desire for Naz to join the Alphas. He recalls it as the classic my-roommate-made-me-do-it scenario. “Of course, I was comfortable in my lofted bed in Santoro, and told him I wasn’t going until he told me I had to. So I went, and to say I was blown away...is an understatement," he says. "I wasn’t even a part of this show, but I remember everything about it. It was the best show I had ever seen. There were so many teams, and the Alphas looked great. I stayed, met them, and from there I guess you could say the rest is history.”

That history has led to an amazing event to occur for its fifth year. We at Her Campus at CNU are so thankful to the Alphas and the speakers for hosting such an awesome event -- congratulations to Alpha Phi for winning first place, and kudos to all the performers for going out there! Now, do us all a favor: Go vote!

The winners of the event, Alpha Phi, performing a jump move during their routine