OP-EDS

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April 25, 2005

RSOs work hard and deserve ample funding

One person is a daydream. Three people make a conversation. Five turns into a club. And it is no wonder that as the College has increased its enrollment from well below the 1,000 mark to an expected 1,200 for the incoming class, the number of RSOs has blossomed as well.

Unless you meticulously scanned the club fair during O-Week, you might not know about the amazing things RSOs do. They tango, meringue, and ballroom dance. They start small businesses and manage hundred-thousand-dollar stock portfolios. They bake, knit, and sew. They joust. They teach and they tutor people young enough to be your kid brother and old enough to be your grandmother. They campaign for political change, for economic change, for academic change, and sometimes even for spare change. They play musical chairs, or climb the Sears Tower, or have bake sales for charity. They counsel victims of abuse. They hunt. They film. They sail. They write -— a lot.

In fact, if you look around at the walls the next time you're standing at the seal in the Reynolds Club, you'll see the deep cultural web that envelops this campus. And although it all seems effortless, in reality our student culture grows not just because of people.

There exists no better way to improve student life on this campus than to give students the ability to improve student life themselves. For all the guff it got, the Hot Chocolate Club was amazing. They gave us free hot chocolate in the dead of winter. And it all happened because a few people started talking one day, put together a proposal, and had it approved.

RSOs also serve as a vital incubator for talent. Moda, the new University of Chicago fashion magazine, will give countless students the ability to dig into the world of fashion in a way other student publications (like the one you're reading) simply can't. And the experience stands out on a resume, and demonstrates passion and interest. The first recruit becomes a conduit, and in a few short years you begin an incubator for up-and-coming, intellectual fashion criticism.

But it doesn't happen without money.

There's a two-fold problem, it seems. First, there's not enough money. Like last time, SGFC ran out of funds this year. This was a good thing. It meant that RSOs are asking for money earlier and events are getting planned. However, student life can only be enriched with a greater budget for student activities.

Second, there is no easily accessible central clearinghouse for what's going on around campus except the tattered fliers up around the Reynolds Club and Cobb. One of the major issues with RSOs right now is how to publicize. To solve this problem, we can take a page from that well known technical school in Evanston. They have installed large flat-screen TVs bolted to the walls in common areas, which broadcast a continuous loop of advertisements. The University has already installed such screens in the Cobb classrooms. Time and money could be saved if, instead of printing out 50 flyers to be posted around the three floors of the Reynolds Club and five floors of Cobb, an RSO could submit an e-poster on the advertisement server, and it would go into rotation on a network of screens across campus.

There are serious issues facing our University right now. Many of them are being tossed around in this election. However, no single body in the University is more responsible for the prosperity of student life than Student Government. There are transportation committees, safety committees, and numerous other bureaucratic details designed to deal with dilemmas. Only the funding of student activities remains largely within the sole scope of Student Government. Whoever wins the election, let's hope they keep that in mind.