January 13, 2012

“Mugged” mugs lampoon Hyde Park crime, get shot down by ORCSA

Darren Leow / The Chicago Maroon

A third-year entrepreneur drew the scrutiny of the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities (ORCSA) last week, after he set up shop in the Reynolds Club selling mugs that read, “Where fun comes to get mugged.”

Chris Stavitsky, who tabled from Tuesday to Friday, shut down his operation after a run-in with ORCSA over rules violations capped off a week of unprofitable business and administrative complaints about the mugs’ message.

Administrators told the RSO adviser who had loaned Stavitsky his table space that the slogan was negative and misrepresented the University’s relationship with the surrounding communities.

Stavitsky originally intended to use the proceeds of the sale for Simulacrum, an arts RSO which he leads. However, because Simulacrum is still renewing its RSO status, it was unable to reserve a table in Reynolds.

To get around the rule, he swapped donation money with another RSO for use of its table, effectively buying space in Reynolds Club. He later discovered that this is prohibited under ORSCA policies and apologized; the sale was allowed to continue through the end of the week.

Stavitsky, who is also a Viewpoints columnist at the Maroon, declined to disclose the name of the RSO whose table he used. However, an online ORCSA listing of RSO room reservations details a “mug sale” from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day last week under the name “FOTGC-Sigma Chi.”

While administrators bristled at the mugs’ depiction of University life as fraught with peril, a more peaceful image “is just not the truth,” Stavitsky said. He pointed out that a student was mugged during the week of the sale.

Stavitsky told the adviser, whom he requested be kept anonymous, that he would respond to any complainants’ direct questions and concerns. However, no one contacted him.

“I was kept relatively in the dark,” Stavitsky said. “I only have the vaguest idea about the complaints.”

Stavitsky said that he intended to spread crime awareness—a message which garnered a commendation from a passing UCPD officer, he said.

Though Stavitsky has never been mugged, his friends have. He said they “appreciated” the mugs.

Stavitsky said he would like to resume the sale at some point in the future, but that this is unlikely until Simulacrum regains its RSO status. He also plans to update the club’s bylaws, putting less focus on graphic design and more on student entrepreneurship—an emphasis he tried to demonstrate with the sale.

“Fundraising should be treated as a business,” Stavitsky said. “Most of the fundraising done on campus is not effective.”

Stavitsky said he originally intended to sell shot glasses reading, “Where Fun Goes to Get Shot.” He said he got the idea from a post on the Facebook group, “Overheard at UChicago.” However, he thought the phrase was too strong and that more students would buy mugs.

Roughly 90 mugs were sold at $10 each. He borrowed the money to purchase the mugs from friends.