SPB gives students taste of the Caribbean

Caribbean Paradise gives students an escape from end-of-semester stress


Elyse Gregory

Students were served Caribbean food and drinks as the Banquet Rooms in the OC were illuminated with ice sculpture and other decorations.

The Oakland Center Banquet Rooms were transformed into a Caribbean Paradise for the evening on Nov. 18.

The event was hosted by the Student Program Board (SPB) and lasted from 6-10 p.m.

Upon entering, students swiped in with their Grizzly ID card and got to pick out leis. The Banquet Rooms were decorated in a festive Caribbean theme, including tropical center pieces, a palm tree ice sculpture and a Caribbean flag display.  

The event also offered a Caribbean food buffet that included Jamaican jerk chicken, Cuban rice and beans, and a mocktail bar that served virgin mojitos, piña coladas and sparkling punch in plastic coconut cups.

Sean Foe, diversity director for SPB, explained that his job is to put together events like these to highlight the diversity on Oakland University’s campus.

“I wanted to do a Caribbean event, so we offered authentic food, dancing, and we had the Petoskey High School steel-drum band perform two sets of Caribbean-themed music,” Foe said.

Barry Bennett, band director at Petoskey High School, explained that the steel-drum band started 20 years ago and has since doubled in size.

“There are about 42 members in our steel-drum band this year,” Bennet said. “We’ve been travelling around playing events, such as the Chicago Festival of Lights Parade, and we’ve gone down to New Orleans and played Mardi Gras eight times. But we mostly play in the summertime because we play mainly tropical music.”

Bennett said the other band directors and his dedication to the band have really helped the group grow. The band played steel-drum renditions of popular songs, including Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” and Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).”

Many of those who attended got out on the dance floor when the steel-drum band performed. OU’s dance group, Vitality Dance, event came out to the event to teach attendees how to dance the salsa and bachata, two popular forms of Latin dance.

Meghan Taylor, freshman at OU and dancer for Vitality, attended the event and said she had a great time teaching people how to dance.

“I love this type of dancing. It is upbeat and really fun and gets people on the dance floor,” she said. “The food is also really good, and I had a great time experiencing the Caribbean culture.”

The event also featured a photo booth, where students could take group pictures next to a giant pineapple balloon, as well as a limbo contest, where one lucky winner was able to take home a Kindle Fire.