Active involvement in the community outside the Hyde Park bubble is a critical element in shaping the University’s image and extending its influence in a positive way through its students. Saturday’s Special Olympics on the Midway were a shining demonstration of what U of C students can accomplish when they marshal their resources.
In addition to the lifetime’s worth of positive memories that the event provided, the Special Olympics made a high-water mark in a largely student-driven effort to bring large-scale public events to campus. While the University’s position as a willing accomplice for such movements serves well, the MAROON believes that the school can and should do more.
With the Midway, Ratner, and Stagg Field, the University has the facilities to host such events. This weekend showed that, if properly mobilized, the study body has the energy and enthusiasm to make such productions successful.
Hosting events like this brings in crowds of spectators and participants who would otherwise be unexposed to the campus and the neighborhood. More significantly, it helps burst the bubble that exists between University life and the local “real world.”
Over the past year, the reality gap between campus and the community has widened noticeably, a byproduct of events such as last year’s the Straight Thuggin’ Party. By being more generous with its considerable resources, the University can be seen as more than just a South Side oasis for its nerdy students, and instead become a visible citywide hub.
Following in the footsteps of the Gay Games this past summer, the Special Olympics is the latest example of students and community working together for a common cause. For a school that is so often confused with UIC, a little bit of positive publicity and exposure can only be a good thing.