The week before exams, the Student Arts and Events Council (SAEC) at the University of Massachusetts Boston runs Stress Relief Week, during which they host a multitude of events, such as a scavenger hunt, ice skating in the Clark Athletic Center, cookie decorating, and their first ever coffee house. On Tuesday, Dec. 4, in the Ryan Lounge in McCormack Hall, there was an event that featured two open mic performances, lots of karaoke, and a side table with hot beverages, such as apple cider, hot chocolate, coffee, and boiling hot water for tea. The table also offered a multitude of different types of brownies, whipped cream, fluff, real cinnamon sticks, and coffee syrups.
The event was held from 5 to 8 p.m., and the first thirty minutes allowed the students to walk around with their refreshments and mingle with each other. With around 40 students showing up, people ate food, drank their hot drinks, and occupied the armchairs and loveseats, as well as a group of black chairs set up in the middle. Around 5:30 p.m., one of the SAEC members running the event, Paige Groves, introduced the audience to what the night would consist of and the first open mic act.
After Groves spoke, three students: Mitchell L. Cameron, Claire Speredelozzi, and Rasheem Muhammad, got up from their seats and Speredelozzi introduced them all as well as explained the layout of their act. “This here is Mitchell Lloyd Cameron. He is a copy editor at Mass Media as well as chancellor of the German Club.” After a round of applause she went on, “So, as you can see from Mitch’s aesthetic [vintage formal], he may not be very well versed in… slang terms, the modern stuff. So, my friend, Rasheem, and I have collected a fair number of slang terms we’re going to throw at Mitch and he’s going to define them!”
Moving from ‘litty’ to ‘brick’, with many in between, they covered a fair amount of slang. Speredelozzi even got the audience involved with an audience member shouting out, ‘THOT’! A very good try, Cameron’s explanation of ‘THOT’ was, “THOT… uhhh, it’s—okay—um, it’s just…; the word it comes from is ‘thought’—t-h-o-u-g-h-t that you have… an idea that you concoct in your head, we’ve extended the meaning of that word, um, it’s referring to, specifically, when you… It’s referring specifically to, an idea that you have. Maybe like it’s a really great idea, and so it’s a double meaning on the word ‘thought’ meaning an ‘idea that you have,’ but then it’s also a contraction of ‘That’s hot.’ That idea is ‘THOT,’ so you’ll think of a really cool idea and you just shout, ‘THOT!’ ” Speredelozzi and Muhammad were sad to admit to Cameron that THOT is actually an acronym for “That Hoe Over There.” They came to the conclusion that, “in a way, you’re [Cameron] kinda right.”
After the trio left the stage, Muhammad, a spoken-word poet, went back up to perform his poem, "Despair," a powerful speech on racism in modern America. Muhammad also competes in competitions as well as gives performances, with his most recent performance being at the Panasuk Symposium at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
While the SAEC team sent Abby Glick, a member of the Campus Center staff, to get another laptop for karaoke, the attendees of the event listened to the occasional background music, socialized, and some even worked on homework in the sense of a true coffee house event.
Karaoke started off strong, with everyone belting the first verse of skinny legend Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The second verse, however, faltered with the crowd losing interest, but picked up again with Muhammad’s rendition of, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” As the night progressed, more and more people gathered their confidence and went up to the front of the room to perform. The final song rang out with Hakeem Alhady’s karaoke rendition of a Whitney Houston song. Members of SAEC considered the event to be successful, and they hope to host more coffee houses in the future.