Someone driving past Malcolm X College over the weekend might have thought they’d taken a wrong turn into the Lollapalooza music concert.
Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren, was decked out Friday and Saturday with balloons decorating the outdoor black fences leading to the north parking lot.
A retractable stage was set up in the lot for performers, and vendors were selling water, ice cream and cake. Inside, activities ranged from midnight stepping, an early morning 5K walk and an afternoon workshop for black men (story on page 8).
Although it did not showcase green-haired alternative bands, the atmosphere at MXC was undeniably festive.
The college hosted a first ever 24-hour registration block party, starting at 6 in the evening on Friday and lasting until 6 p.m. the next day. Last year’s event was not an all-nighter, taking place only from morning to late afternoon over one week in July.
This year’s event showcased the school’s programs through a variety of events.
“One of the idea’s behind the 24-hour registration is the fact that oftentimes when we have registration events, students complain that they can not come because of time conflicts,” said Kimberly Hollingsworth, dean of continuing education for MXC. “This way, everyone who wants to come has the opportunity.”
The idea for the event was suggested by Ramo Bey, MXC’s associate dean of student services. Bey previously worked at the central office of the City College’s of Chicago before taking a position at Malcolm X College.
Upon his arrival, he suggested the 24-hour registration idea to MXC president Zerrie Campbell.
“It was an idea he had taken from Morton College in Cicero, which held an all day registration event last year and was highly successful,” said Hollingsworth. “After she approved the plan and [Chancellor of City Colleges] Dr. Wayne Watson approved the budget, a committee was formed, including myself, and Ramo Bey to plan the event.”
There was little time to work with though. The entire event, including scheduling the performers, assembling the vendors and decorating the campus, would have to be completed in just over a month.
“We wanted an event that would cater to all tastes, nationalities and age ranges, because we wanted to create a true family atmosphere,” said Jessica Holloway, coordinator to the office of President Campbell.
The event included Bennie the Bull, the Chicago Bulls’ mascot, performances by the Jesse White Tumblers and local poets and rappers. Salsa and meringue dancing lessons also took place, along with a performance by the college’s African-dance ensemble, Najwa Dance Corps.
Along with inspiring prospective students to enroll, this year’s event coincided with this being year 10 of the college’s accreditation. If it expires, school officials note, the consequences could severely hurt the college’s ability to continue operating.
Few students would be inclined to attend a school without an accredited curriculum, officials said.
“On Nov. 5 though 7, we are going to be visited by the Higher Learning Commission where they will assess our operation, and hopefully once they see the level of our school spirit and our commitment to diversity and academic accomplishment, they will approve our accreditation for another 10 years,” said Hollingsworth.
Mahogany Bryant, an 17-year-old senior at Bogan High School on the South Side, attended the event because of her interest in the school’s mortuary science program.
“I really wanted to see what the school had to offer because I have a friend that is a funeral director, and seeing how she works with families in a professional manner while remaining mindful of their loss, really touched me.”
Bryant has not decided whether she will register for classes following her graduation next year, but she was impressed by the block party.
“It [was] really fun, I feel that it showcases the campus’ spirit and dedication to diversity very well,” she said. “Maybe if it is held next year, I can come and register.”