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October 12, 2015

Peace Corps to Paleo: A snapshot of five new RSOs on campus

During the previous school year, the Committee on Recognized Student Organizations (CORSO) reviewed applications for new Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), ranging from paleontology clubs to law societies. Through the process, multiple new RSOs were added to a list of over 400 organizations with which students can get involved. Here are five new RSOs starting out the school year.

Be The Match On Campus

Be The Match On Campus (BTM) was started in the middle of winter quarter last year by third-year biology majors George Tsourdinis and Jon Sussman with the goal of raising awareness for the needs of hematological cancer patients.

“[BTM] was initiated because of a lack of healthcare synchrony in delivery to minority populations concerning bone marrow and peripheral stem cell donation,” Sussman said.

BTM, in addition to raising awareness, aims to grow the donor pool for people in need of bone marrow and peripheral stem cell transplants.

The RSO holds bi-weekly drives to educate individuals on the prevalence of blood cancer and the need for better healthcare for the cancer patients. The club also discusses the general lack of donations for patients. BTM held a spring cancer week and plans to do so again next year alongside Colleges Against Cancer (CAC). BTM also has plans on inviting speakers every quarter. Sussman and Tsourdinis have high hopes for BTM. With 35 members and hundreds signed up for the bone marrow registry, the organization is growing.

Kitchen Sink

Despite being rejected for RSO-status in winter quarter last year, third-years Angela Lin, Carrie Volpert, and Amanda Lee founded Kitchen Sink to provide an artistic outlet for UChicago students. Kitchen Sink hopes to fill an artistic void in a school where Core art classes are few and difficult to get. Before Kitchen Sink, there was only one visual arts RSO, Outside the Lines (OTL).

“[OTL and Kitchen Sink are] both trying to fill in the lack of art spaces on campus,” said Lin. “A lot of people who come to our sessions haven’t picked up a paintbrush since, like, elementary school…. I think that so many people are very interested in making art and just don’t know where to do it.”

Kitchen Sink holds sessions every Wednesday evening at Logan Center, providing a wide range of art materials, from acrylic paints to watercolors and more, in addition to chairs, easels, and sometimes food. The sessions are open to all students for experimenting with the materials, creating their own works, and simply hanging out with friends. Kitchen Sink has also hosted events such as a sketch session at the Art Institute of Chicago and community paintings at ArtShould Expose and the O-Party.

Immigration Law Society

Two years ago, third-year law student Hannah Lazar and some other law students started the Immigration Law Society (ILS) as a law student organization. The club became an RSO earlier in the spring of this year. 

“The founding students felt that the Law School community would benefit from a student group dedicated to promoting discussion of important immigration law and policy issues,” said current president and second-year law student Christian Meyers.

The club aims to facilitate the discussion and education of important immigration topics in the Law School community and to promote the immigration pro bono efforts of its members. ILS organizes lunch talks, featuring professionals speaking about their work or immigration topics.

PaleoClub

The Paleontology Club (PaleoClub), minted as an RSO a few months ago in the spring, is a community for future paleontologists and those who are just interested in the field. The club was founded by fourth-years Mark Juhn, Daniel Hughes, and Maria Viteri, and Hadley Eichengreen (A.B. ’14), Spiro Sullivan (A.B. ’14), and Stephanie Baumgart (A.B. ’13).

“We noticed that despite the presence of world-class paleontology professors and labs here on campus, as an undergraduate, it was difficult to figure out how to pursue an education in paleontology,” Viteri said. “We hope to give underclassmen a place to meet experienced members of the community who can direct them to the opportunities that UChicago provides.”

Chicago Peace Corps

Last year, the Institute of Politics’ Sargent Shriver Program for Leadership in Public Service tasked a group of 14 undergraduates to address the problems with the zero-tolerance policies in Chicago neighborhood schools by using the theory of change by Sargent Shriver, the founder of the Peace Corps. After multiple weekly meetings starting in January, the Chicago Peace Corps was created this summer.

“We saw how destructive the school-to-prison pipeline is in countless Chicago neighborhoods. In looking for ways to confront this issue we discovered restorative justice, which is a model to foster community and therefore avoid harsh disciplinary procedures,” said fourth-year Ivan Parfenoff, the executive director of the organization.

The Chicago Peace Corps seeks to use restorative practices in schools in Back of the Yards by holding a weekly circle in the schools. The program also plans to hold regular circles within the UChicago community and tours of its partners in Back of the Yards. The Peace Corps does volunteer work as well, from tutoring to coaching sports teams.

The program is currently aiding one of its partners in starting a People’s School and is recruiting for volunteers. Fifty people attended its film screening and panel-recruiting event, and the club is excited to continue its mission.

“Our hope is to provide talented, highly motivated UChicago volunteers to Back of the Yards and create our vision of a restorative community,” Parfenoff said. “This also means bridging the gap between our neighborhoods; we hope to continue to bring Back of the Yards to Hyde Park and vice versa.”

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