The autumn quarter RSO fair took place in the Henry Crown Field House in 2011 (shown)—Jaffery’s first year—just as it did this year. (Photography by Thomas Banks)
Rows of RSOs
A fourth-year reflects on the bustle and bewilderment—and wide possibilities—of the annual sign-up event for student organizations.
The quarterly Recognized Students Organizations (RSO) fair is a long-standing institution, though the fall quarter event is typically the largest one. When I was a first-year, the RSO fair felt like a continuation of O-Week. The University is still trying to welcome new students, handing them little parts of college life one bite at a time. With over 350 RSOs, it’s not hard to see why the fair is so overwhelming to first-years. I remember signing up for every email list that seemed mildly interesting (and subsequently ending up on upwards of 30 list hosts). I aimlessly strolled around the upper level of Henry Crown, stopping for candy at various tables and eventually getting a flu shot from the Health Services table. As a fourth-year, I had a very different approach to the fair. Instead of looking for new RSOs, I was behind a table trying to entice students to join the coed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. As they walked by looking slightly frazzled, I recalled what it felt like to be on the other side of the table. In the past four years, I’ve dabbled in journalism, dance, community service, and multiple forums on issues of diversity, but I started out as a first-year who aimlessly strolled around Henry Crown, unsure of where anything was or how I wanted to spend my time. I’m more cautious about signing up for list hosts now—and more knowledgeable about which tables give out the best free stuff. It feels as though there are infinitely more RSOs every year. Despite my best efforts to resist, I found myself signing up for more RSOs, and once again receiving an endless stream of emails. I might think I’ve got UChicago all figured out, but the RSO fair is proof, once again, of all I have yet to discover.