RSOs help make a big school feel a little smaller


Nikky Gary

The view of various cultural houses on Nevada Street in Urbana. Features editor Camille writes about how registered student organizations are a great resource for finding new friends as an international student.

By Camille Baer, Features Editor

At a school with more than 33,000 undergraduate students, it makes sense as to why people constantly search for ways to make a big school feel smaller.

Whether it’s Greek life, business fraternities, club sports, dance troupes, foodies, music groupies or volunteering opportunities, registered student organizations can connect students from all over campus to engage in activities aside from the expected academics. So, let’s talk.

For starters, there are a few organizations that are catered specifically to international students. International Illini is an organization at the University that works to provide information and resources to students about the culture of international and exchange students. Not only does this RSO aim to help international students have as smooth of a transition as possible into a new environment, but it invites all students to engage in making the campus more inclusive.

Another RSO, Bridges International, operates with a similar motto: “Serve international students, be a social resource to International students, be a spiritual resource to International students.” Much of what Bridges International seeks to achieve stems from fortifying relationships between international and American students.

While International Illini and Bridges International are great examples of inclusion on campus, in total, there are 94 cultural and ethnic RSOs open to students at the University. Each one offers a unique opportunity to find the perfect place to fit in. It’s not an easy thing to move across the globe, let alone to live alone on a college campus, so it’s understandable to want to seek out comfort in a new place

Some examples include the African Students Organization, which aims to allocate opportunities for students from Africa. The Asian American Student Housing Organization is affiliated with University Housing to guide students through the exploration of Asian cultures through a variety of social and cultural events held during the year. Another RSO is the Indian Student Association, an organization working to bring awareness, as well as a social connection, for South Asian students at the University.

With organizations like the Korean Cultural Center, the Iranian Cultural Association, the Mexican Student Association, the Malaysian Student Association, the Vietnamese Students Association and so many more, the abundance of cultural organizations on campus work hard to unite students from all walks of life in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Looking to join something a little more outside your comfort zone? Not a problem. Some other categories of RSOs include athletic, recreational, creative, political, religious and service related organizations.

There are over 1,600 different organizations in total at the University, each one striving to bring together students of the same interests. As cliche as it may sound, linking people who enjoy similar things can truly make a big school feel a tad smaller.

Feel like having some fun? While each organization typically hosts their own events to promote outreach, as well as for celebration, you can go to the homepage for RSOs and search for different activities and events you and your friends can enjoy.

You may find something completely out of your comfort zone, but that’s part of the fun. It’s also a great resource to learn about other organizations that may be hosting info nights or service opportunities you wouldn’t typically seek out.

It’s not always easy to throw yourself in new situations and is most certainly easier said than done, but joining an RSO can help make things seem a bit less scary. What’s important is finding a way to make the transition to campus a little more seamless, and part of that comes from knowing who to ask and what resources can help the best.

So, if it isn’t already abundantly clear, don’t be afraid to find comfort and familiarity from people who know exactly what you might be going through, whatever that may mean to you. Perhaps it’s playing music with others or cooking delicious food or dancing hip-hop — the answer is to just try it. Oh, and welcome to the University. I-L-L!

Camille is a junior in Media.

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