University RSOs gain followers through friendship, school pride

By Maddie Galassi

The University has a reputation for being an extremely large, diverse campus, and their RSOs follow the same trend. But what distinguishes an organization from gaining a small or large following? And how do clubs maintain their presence? These RSOs weighed in:

Illini Pride

With a campus full of students eager to celebrate their school, Illini Pride maintains thousands of members every year.

“Being in Illini Pride provides a student with the opportunity to experience Illinois sporting events in a whole new light,” said Logan Orr, junior in Engineering and president of Illini Pride. “We attend all of the sporting events to cheer on our student athletes.”

The club also hosts other events throughout the year, including a barn dance and road trips to other colleges.

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“It’s an enormous group on campus but is still unified. We come together on game days and cheer on our fellow students as they compete against schools from all over the nation,” Orr explained. “We’re all there because we want to see our school succeed.”

Illini Pride also appeals to students through philanthropy. Since the introduction of Orange Krush, they have raised millions of dollars for charities, as well as a reputation for one of the loudest basketball cheering sections in the country.

“We attract new members by explaining our unique experience and our involvement on campus,” Orr said. “We help students make life-long memories, and new members get hooked when they sit in one of our sections for a game.”

Illini Pride is eager for this year’s Quad Day. Coaches John Groce, Tim Beckman and former football player Nathan Scheelhaase will also be joining them.

After experiencing Block I with his older siblings, Orr knew that Illini Pride was something he wanted to be part of.

“The people in the club are my favorite part,” he said. “I have met so many different students and made so many great friends through it. I love the thrill I get at each sporting event and watching the athletes with all of my friends, which makes Illini Pride that much better.”

Since Block I tickets are still on sale, the current amount of Illini Pride participants is unclear, but the group is hoping for as many students to join as have in the past.

October Lovers

One University RSO allows students to celebrate their favorite month of the year together.

October Lovers is one of the most popular groups on campus, and their name paints a clear picture of what they’re about.

“October Lovers attracts members by emphasizing that they can come to as many or as few of our events as they want,” said Leah Valenti, senior in Business and president of the club. “Everyone also loves that the club is all about just getting together with friends and doing fun October things.”

Each event is planned by the 10 executive members and ranges from 75 to 500 participants.

“Being in a college setting, it’s hard to access some typical fall activities that people did when they were little, so October Lovers provides a way for these students to still do those activities,” Valenti said.

Valenti’s favorite aspect of being in October Lovers is simply the idea of people gathering together and celebrating October. However, Valenti said doughnuts from Curtis Apple Orchard aren’t too bad, either.

Illini 4000

Another club of students who are large in their commitment is Illini 4000.

Every summer, the Illini 4000 join together to bike across the country in an effort to raise funds for cancer research. It originally began in 2007 and has since become a tradition. Since their beginning, the club has raised over $800,000.

Since each participant is required to raise at least $3,500 to participate in the ride, members don’t come as easy as they do to RSOs that don’t require as much obligation.

“My cousin did Illini 4000 two years ago, and one of my good friends did it last year, so I knew about it that way,” said Alexandra Kott, junior in LAS and current director of marketing for the club. “I went to Quad Day last year to check it out and got all the information and went to a meeting and thought it would be great to be a part of.”

Kott participated in the cross-country ride this summer — a trek across 16 states.

“A lot of people find out about it from Quad Day or just word of mouth, but most people find it interesting in the fact that you’re biking around the country,” Kott explained. “Also, almost everyone has a connection with cancer.”

Illini 4000 will also be making an appearance at Quad Day and won’t be hard to miss due to their attire: bright orange jerseys.

“We hand out a lot of flyers for upcoming events for our application and have a tri-fold poster with pictures from the past summer, along with a sign-in sheet and information,” Kott said.

After Quad Day recruitment occurs and interview processes take place in September, training begins that October. Training starts with indoor sessions and shifts to outdoor after spring break. All members are required to go to one weekend and one mid-week practice and can attend as many as they would like.

Whether its biking across the country or cheering on their school, RSOs continue to unite students and grow and thrive each year.

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See the secrets behind the numbers of the largest student-run organizations at the University.