Students waited on lines to receive their strawberry salads.  (Jisoo Hwang)
Students waited on lines to receive their strawberry salads. (Jisoo Hwang)

Thousands  of students gathered to celebrate different heritages and lifestyles through music and dance performances, artistic creativity and cultural features at Stony Brook University’s Annual Strawberry Festival and Diversity Day during Campus Life Time at the Student Activities Center Plaza.

“Strawberry Fest is a great way for students to take a break from studying for a few hours and meet with friends to enjoy all of the unique strawberry-themed dishes,” Angela Agnello, director of marketing and communications at the Faculty Student Association, said.

Campus Dining and the Faculty Student Association created the Strawberry Festival to provide students with enjoyment and entertainment.

More than 2,500 tickets were sold to students before and during the event, Agnello said. Tickets were available to students, faculty and staff.

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Agnello said the Strawberry Festival began in the early 1990s. The university’s cultural and ethnic student organizations started Diversity Day because students wanted to come together each spring semester to celebrate the campus’ diversity.

“Strawberry Fest offers a popular menu enjoyed by the campus community and adding Diversity Day performances made the event complete with entertainment,” Agnello said.

In 1998, the President’s Student Advisory Council helped the campus community appreciate its diversity, said to Christina Law, Stony Brook’s university affirmative action officer and Title IX coordinator. The President’s Student Advisory Council wanted the campus community to appreciate its Diversity Day. Roy Flores, a former Stony Brook University student and an assistant athletic trainer, also helped organize Diversity Day.

The student Diversity Council approached the leaders of Campus Dining and decided to make the Strawberry Festival a part of Diversity Day.

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“Since thousands of people turn out for Strawberry Fest, why not use the same audience, some of whom would never come to a Diversity related event, to help spread the message of diversity,” Law said. “It has been a great collaborative effort ever since then.”

The council wanted to bring people together at the Strawberry Festival and Diversity Day, where students had the opportunity to try a wide variety of strawberries.

“Strawberry Festival is one of those campus traditions that bring together students, staff and faculty from all areas of our community,” Law said.

Among the strawberry options were strawberry fields salad, strawberry strudel, strawberry shortcake, Red Mango strawberry smoothie and strawberry lemonade. The tasting stations were serving traditional favorites and healthy options.

Louis Maomemillo, a station chef, distributed grilled chicken with quinoa and strawberry salsa. This strawberry-themed dish was tossed with grilled chicken, raspberry vinegar with dressings and balsamic. Maomemillio has been distributing different traditional strawberry favorites for about 10 years.

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“Previous years, we offered strawberry pizza, strawberry cake and other favorites,” she said.

Many students lined up to taste different strawberry-themed dishes. Students waited in line with enthusiasm and excitement. “Being a commuter, you don’t experience this and the Strawberry Festival makes you a part of the community,” Marissa Horn, a freshman chemistry major, said.

Jackie Green, bakery production manager for Campus Dining, delivered strawberry strudel. The strawberry-themed dish had strawberry filling with flakey pastry and powdered sugar.

“Everyone from campus dining participates at the Strawberry Festival,” Green said with excitement. “They each displayed a strawberry dish.”

The line for strawberry smoothies from Red Mango was one of the longest lines at the festival. Many students had the opportunity to taste Red Mango’s take on delicious flavors.

Thomas McGinn, production chef for Roth Quad, indicated  the smoothie included banana, strawberry, yogurt, sweeteners and ice. “The festival is a lot of fun,” he said.

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Students were rushing to get online to try the Strawberry to Go with chocolate dipping Sauce. The sauce had a milky, sweetened chocolate flavor. “It’s delicious and refreshing,” Marc Model, caterer at the university, said.

Student performances represented different cultures on campus. Among the musical and dance performances were Stony Brook University’s step team and the Belly Dance Club.

Strawberry Festival features a delicious array of strawberry-inspired treats. The festival provides a fun and laid back atmosphere around the campus. The tradition promotes multicultural learning, cross-cultural appreciation and mutual respect and the festival reminds students of the beauty of different cultures and their common humanity.

“It is a wonderful way to celebrate who we are as individuals, a community, and a university,” Cheryl Chambers, associate dean for multicultural affairs, said. “It is our hope that the tradition of Diversity Day and Strawberry Festival will always be a part of Stony Brook University.”

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