Editorial: Student involvement beneficial to community events


Torey Butner | Creative Director

Jason Segel, actor in The End of the Tour, and James Ponsoldt, director of The End of the Tour, answer questions during the Q and A after the film at Ebertfest on April 16, 2015.

While it’s easy to recognize all of the opportunities the University has to offer — from Illini Spring Jam to famous speakers at the Union — the vast number of activities available in our neighboring towns often get forgotten.

Still, students should be looking to the Champaign and Urbana communities, for they frequently have great events to offer that we can take advantage of.

For example, the annual movie festival Ebertfest happens every year, and tickets for this year’s go on sale today. However, that shouldn’t be the only community event to get attention.

Year round, the area surrounding the University is full of vibrant, interesting events such as David Sedaris coming to the Virginia Theater in Champaign last year, to annual happenings such as the C-U Folk and Roots Festival.

When students attend these local events and festivals, it helps foster a sense of community, and gives students the opportunity to see what is going on off campus.

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Many of these festivities are unique to the Champaign-Urbana area, such as the Folk and Roots Festival and the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival. Others have similar counterparts in communities around Illinois, but have aspects that set them apart.

For example, while the Taste of Champaign-Urbana may be smaller than the Taste of Chicago, the proceeds from the C-U version go to a scholarship fund so local youth can go to summer camps, as well as take lessons in dancing and swimming.

Like with the Taste of Champaign-Urbana, it’s evident that when you support these events, you also support important causes within the community. For example, the C-U Oktoberfest supports the local Developmental Services Center. The center aims to help members of the community with disabilities by “providing services and supports which enable them to live, work, learn and participate in their communities.”

Many of the businesses that are involved in and support these events are also locally owned, so by attending, you’re supporting those businesses.

This not only contributes to the local economy, but also promotes diversity and innovation within the community — in 2012, 36 percent of small businesses were owned by women and almost 15 percent of small business owners were non-white. The more we support these businesses, the more diversity we will see.

They also help employment in the community — from 1992 to 2013, about 63 percent of new jobs are created by small business, according to the Small Business Administration. As many small business owners are residents themselves, they’re more likely to facilitate relationships with residents, community leaders and schools.

Outside of the fact that these events are often educational and simply fun, there are economic, social and philanthropic benefits when we engage in these outer-community events, whether it be Ebertfest or the Taste of C-U. While it might be a farther hike than just trekking to the Quad, all of these positives make communal festivals and activities a must.