Evi Arthur, Staff Reporter
During the student involvement fair, you might have seen flyers emblazoned with fists raised in defiance and sturdy block letters that read RISE. RISE is the on-campus activist club where students can fight for others’ rights and be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Last year, the student organization did electoral work for Senator Bernie Sanders and Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx as well as participated in actions to raise the minimum wage. In the past, RISE also helped Roosevelt students gain financial aid transparency when many students were not getting the financial aid they were promised. In addition, students who had not paid their tuition or were still figuring out how to pay it were getting dropped from their classes with no warning.
RISE made a campaign, got student support, and got their list of demands met. This year, student leader Ellen Riesmeyer said that the club’s first protest will be about the move of the Academic Success Center and the disability center to the library, which is not easily accessible with a wheelchair.
“The office of disability is not available to a lot of disabled students,” Riesmeyer said. “I am working with some different student organizations about creating a town hall meeting within the next month or so.”
One special thing about RISE is its connection to students. “RISE is very student directed. I come to all the meetings but I make a huge effort to rarely offer input, it is really all them,” faculty advisor Bethany Barratt said.
There is a notable connection with other Chicago schools. “We also work with other campuses around the city to really build a student movement,” Riesmeyer said.
For many students, like freshman Jaclyn Cao, RISE is an opportunity to be active in one’s community in a way they were not able to be at home. “Back in my hometown, there was not any activism source,” Cao said.
One problem RISE might face is this semester is a lack of members, with only five students in attendance at their first meeting.
Cao worries that their small number of members will affect their ability to make change, “It will be harder to raise a voice over certain issues,” Cao said.
Despite this, Ellen Riesmeyer is optimistic, “Even with a few people as long as they are passionate and invested we can still get a lot done,” Riesmeyer said. Small organization or not, the organization this semester plans to “rise” to the occasion.