CSUN fraternities raise money for Autism Speaks at hot dog eating contest

Samantha Tata

Brothers from 11 fraternaties accepted the challenge to raise funds and awareness for autism at the USU Wednesday afternoon. Photo Credit: Patrick DIlanchian / Assistant Photo Editor

CSUN’s Interfraternal Council (IFC) held a hot dog eating contest Tuesday to benefit Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest advocacy group for autism research.

Through chapter participation and on-site donations, IFC raised the largest campus donation this year of $1,960 for Autism Speaks, said Justin Weiss, coordinator of Unified We Serve, CSUN’s volunteer program.

“Autism is the fastest growing epidemic in the United States with 1 in every 110 children diagnosed,” Weiss said.  “The IFC has taken on the challenge by hosting this event with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Autism Speaks.”

Representatives from 11 fraternities competed for bragging rights amid a crowd of more than 100 people cheering, “Eat it!”

Spotters, charged with directing participants toward vomit-approved areas and ensuring water cups were full, accompanied the brothers as they chewed and swallowed as many hot dogs as possible in ten minutes.

Sigma Phi Epsilon’s contestant Shawheen Alavi-Moghaddam, 19, won the event by eating 12 hot dogs.

The economics major’s strategy was to  eat his hot dogs separately while soaking the buns in water and wringing them out before eating the bread.

“The bread’s tough, I had to get it wet,” he said.  “I wasn’t concerned about the taste or my gag-reflex, I was on a mission.”

Sophomore Alavi-Moghaddam was in the lead throughout the competition having consumed – or least stuffed into his cheeks – ten hot dogs in the first four minutes.

The silliness of the event did not overshadow its purpose, however.

“First and foremost we are here to raise money for a great cause,” said Jim Raggio, 22, who, in a final effort, attempted to eat his remaining five hot dogs at once.

The event served to raise money and awareness for Autism while proliferating a more positive image of the Greek system.

“It’s unfortunate that fraternities have a bad image on campus,” said graduate student Jeremy Spurley, 23, graduate student and member of Kappa Sigma.  “This is a perfect example of us coming together for a good cause and having a good time.  We hope it helps change our public image.”