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Photo: Luke Yeagley

 On Sept. 30, students destroyed a car in the high rise field — for a good cause.

The “car smash” was a philanthropy event hosted by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the Alpha Phi sorority. Participants paid two dollars to hit the car with a sledgehammer once and five dollars to hit the car three times. The fraternity and sorority will donate the proceeds to the Alpha Phi Foundation for Women’s Heart Health and the to hurricane disaster relief in Puerto Rico.

College junior Allison Sparrow, the philanthropy chair of Alpha Phi,  said around 140 people participated in the car smash, and they raised over $750. The fraternity and sorority split the proceeds evenly between their respective charities.

Engineering junior Juan Celi, the philanthropy chair of Sig Ep, said his fraternity was inspired to organize a car smash by a similar event held at the University of Miami. 

“I think that this is an unprecedented event at Penn, at least in recent history,” said Celi. 

Photo: Luke Yeagley

Celi said Sig Ep proposed the idea to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life last semester, but organizing the event took too long to complete before the summer. In order to get permission from Penn to smash a car on campus, the fraternity had to “do a lot of paperwork” and take numerous safety precautions, said Celi. 

One of these safety precautions was not admitting any intoxicated people around the event. 

The hosts were also required to train the participants before smashing could take place, instructing them how to grab the sledgehammer, how to hit the car and where to hit the car. Participants were required to wear gloves and safety glasses, and the car also had its glass windows removed to prevent any glass from shattering and injuring participants. 

Participants unaffiliated with Penn had to sign a waiver before hitting the car so that the University would not be held responsible for any accidents that might have occurred.  

Sig Ep purchased the car from a junkyard called Big Head Auto Salvage for $140 and returned the smashed car after the event. 

Wharton sophomore Noah Sinclair attended the event and had a chance to hit the car. He said that he enjoyed the event.

“I think it’s great timing. It’s the start of midterm season, we’re in the height of OCR, we have a lot of stuff we can get out right here,” Sinclair said. 

He added that he thought that Women’s Heart Health and hurricane disaster relief for Puerto Rico were both great causes, and that the hurricane disaster relief was a particularly timely cause.  

Sparrow said Alpha Phi was eager to partner with Sig Ep to host the event, though at first she thought the idea was “bizarre.”

Photo: Luke Yeagley

“I will admit, I thought it was kind of a strange event, especially for a group of girls. We wouldn’t necessarily choose to smash cars,” said Sparrow. She noted that while the attendance was primarily male,“there was also a good amount of girls who came to smash the car.”  

Celi said that, at the time of the event, Sig Ep had no specific organization in mind to donate the money to, though he planned to reach out to Penn for Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Undergraduate Student Association for suggestions. 

Celi also said that the car smash was an event signaling Sig Ep’s new focus on philanthropic efforts.

“Before this year, we were not very involved with philanthropy events,” said Celi. “This year we decided to make philanthropy a thing.”

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