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Featured Chapter: Roosevelt University

Friday, April 1, 2011

 Roosevelt University

The Roosevelt University Chapter launched at the beginning of the calendar year and already they are off to a fantastic start. The crew, led by Haley Leibovitz, recently answered some questions about their launch process, work in the Chicago area and some of the unique challenges they've tackled as a chapter as a result of Roosevelt University's unique student body characteristics. Contact Haley

The Basics:

When were you established?

January 2011

What are you most proud of with regards to your chapter?

Our core group of members whose enthusiasm for progressive ideals is unparalleled.

What are you most excited about with regards to your chapter?

We are most excited to establish relationships with other groups on campus and in the community.

Greatest challenge (so far) as a chapter, and what you’ve learned from it?

Our greatest challenge is organizing in an urban setting with an often untraditional student body. We have made meeting and event times as convenient as we can when possible to accommodate more students.

Chapter II: Chapter specifics

What specifically drew you to Roosevelt? How did you find out about the organization?

As students of Roosevelt University, an institution with a long history of social justice, we were naturally drawn to the similar principles of Roo Institute!

As you’ve promoted the organization on campus, what pitch do you find inspiring students to jump on the bandwagon most often?

We are a small school with a lot of heart so our pitch often includes a mention of the myriad ways Roo Institute can fill gaps in our college experience. Roo offers many experiences and introductions through internships, conferences, and connections that we might not have otherwise gotten.

How many students are currently involved, and what type of structure are you envisioning for the chapter?

We have had around 40-50 unique people stop by a meeting or event! As a newer chapter, we are still finding the right structure for us. We work best collaboratively as a group.

Roosevelt University may be a new chapter, but already you’re taking an active role in the Chicago Roosevelt scene. What events have you participated in so far, and what’s coming up in the near future?

It has been pretty awesome getting to know the Chicago network! Roosevelt University has always been a place that puts high value on community involvement. We definitely wanted to reach out to the other chapters because of this. We are also excited to host part of the upcoming Midwest Equal Justice conference on April 8th and travel to Northwestern on the 9th. As a new chapter, members from other chapters have come to some of our meetings to help us along the way. One of the midwest coordinators, Audrey Henkels, has been really involved in getting us up to speed on how Roo works. We have also been working on putting together more Chicago Roo events. 

Your chapter was featured earlier this year in the campus paper, can you discuss how that happened and what, if any, impact that had on the visibility of the chapter and the group’s building of the chapter?

The early publicity of our chapter in The Torch, our school publication, brought in several new students to check out the organization. It also announced our presence very early on and was helpful in getting us established.  Roosevelt University is a small community and that allows the school newspaper the luxury to individually highlight many students and organizations. I had advertised the new organization through our weekly school email and The Torch found us that way. 

How have you planned out chapter programming? Is it a collaborative process? What events do you think have gone over well for group members (discussions, policy workshops, events with other Chicago chapters etc)?

Our most successful event was our municipal election night party! Paul Green, political science professor and Chicago political analyst, was key to organizing the event. He funded the food and got us an interview with WBEZ radio to share our election night thoughts. It was our first big event and members worked together to invite peers, create advertisement, and obtain equipment to watch the results live!

Which policy areas are chapter members most interested in?

We have a wide array of interests in Roo@Roo covering everything from gender to education to economic disparity.

Roosevelt University faces some unique challenges with regards to demands on its student body’s time – individuals have a lot going on off campus. Can you discuss the benefits and challenges that come with this dynamic? How does one accommodate in a student organization like Roosevelt?

Roosevelt University is one of the most diverse campuses in the country.
Students at RU have jobs, children, spouses, and many outside activities in addition to school. Because of this, we try to aim for events that are useful in the classroom and collaborate with other groups on campus to improve student life.

For other students just starting Roosevelt chapters or who want to, what advice would give them in terms of building up a strong engaged membership early on?

Reach out to as many professors as possible to create a connection between the organization and the classroom. Our success has stemmed from the early support of professors and the political science department.

Something unexpected about the organization that surprised you?

The “Campus Network” description in the title is definitely true. From the start, we were instantly introduced and helped by other campus chapters like Northwestern and UChicago.

Anything else about the chapter that you’d like to share with the broader network?

Definitely look for opportunities outside of your campus to get involved in!