At Her Campus UMaine, we are dedicated to bringing light to organizations around campus who strive to be better than they were yesterday, and the members that make these organizations great. This week, we are lucky enough to showcase two members of our university’s chapter of Pi Beta Phi- Lizzi Narcisse and Sara Swett.
Pi Beta Phi at the University of Maine participates in a philanthropy called Read > Lead > Achieve, during which the sisters read to elementary children to encourage literacy in children They will be participating in formal recruitment this fall, following guidelines set by UMaine for COVID-19, and are so excited to meet their new members!
Lizzi Narcisse is a fourth-year nursing student who was born and raised in Southborough, Massachusetts, and currently serves as Director of Social Events for Pi Beta Phi. Her racial identity has always been an important part of her life, being that her father is from Haiti. Sara Swett is a fourth-year marine science major born and raised in New Jersey. She is very passionate about environmental justice and conservation as well as racial justice causes, which inspired her to organize a march for Black Lives Matter recently.
Together, Lizzi and Sara organized a Black Lives Matter march in Orono, Maine which took place on August 30, 2020. They used a number of means to spread the word about their plans: word of mouth, social media, and flyers. The idea of the march was originally Sara’s, but after discussing it with other members of the chapter, Lizzi stepped in to help plan the event. Sara explained, “When I came back up to school after the death of Jacob Blake, I knew it would be a good time to bring attention to Orono to make a difference”. Little did they know, they were about to make a large impact on the University of Maine community. Thirty-five people attended the march while maintaining social distancing and enforced mask-wearing, and many participants streamed it to their social media.
The march began at the Avenue at Orono’s clubhouse (known by students and local residents as “The Ave”), a student living complex near the university. They marched through campus along Long Road, stopping at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Memorial Plaza located right outside the Memorial Union. Here, they reflected upon a quote engraved in stone, which reads “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. The march continued toward Downtown Orono after a quick group photo, then looped back toward the Ave. Though the march was successful, Lizzi and Sara had expected to receive backlash, stating that “There was more positive than negative.” “Some people yelled ‘All Lives Matter’, and gave us the middle finger and dirty looks”, Sara stated.
Despite the opinions of others, Lizzi and Sara left the experience with a positive attitude and pride in the local community. “It made me happy how people responded positively. Overall a positive moment in the world of activism for Orono,” Sara decided. Thinking forward, Lizzi expressed interest in holding future events regarding not only black lives matter, but aimed toward any human rights issues, especially with elections coming up in just a few short weeks.
To learn more about Pi Beta Phi at UMaine, follow them on instagram at @pibetaphimealpha, and sign up for Recruitment if you haven’t already!