Fighting the suitcase school stereotype

By Kaitlin Pendagast

Seniors Amanda Grisafi, Joanna Grillo and Lauren Baker and former student Joyce Camilleri went ice skating with the rest of the ROOTERS last year.

Most students know that Rider can get quiet on the weekends, but many do not realize that there is a club on campus devoted to finding or creating weekend fun. This club is called Rider-Out-of-Towners (ROOTERS).

Although the club was originally designed for out-of-state students on campus, ROOTERS welcomes in-state students as well. In fact, nearly half of the current members of the executive board of ROOTERS are from New Jersey.

“ROOTERS is for anyone who wants to plan, organize or just enjoy fun weekend events while making connections with people who are here most weekends,” said the president of the club, senior Lauren Baker, of Massachusetts.

Forming relationships among students who spend weekends at Rider is the most important goal of ROOTERS, said Ira Mayo, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and adviser to ROOTERS.

“If you’re here on the weekends, you’re not alone,” he said.

About nine years ago, ROOTERS was created by a group of out-of-state students, according to Mayo. The club was inactive for years until 2007, when Baker took the initiative to reactivate it. She worked together with Mayo and their enthusiasm paid off; since then, ROOTERS has been growing in membership and has sponsored and orchestrated many on- and off-campus events.

Although many people are still unaware that the club even exists, ROOTERS is seeking to change this. Some of ROOTERS’ past off-campus events included ice skating and pumpkin-picking trips. On-campus events have included a blacklight party and a Lady Gaga party in the pub, which was co-sponsored by the Gay/Straight Alliance.

“I sometimes hear people complain there’s nothing to do at Rider on the weekends, but if you just make an effort, you’ll be able to find plenty to do,” Baker said. “ROOTERS provides the perfect outlet for that.”

ROOTERS is about more than just planning trips and events. Mayo emphasized the crucial networking function that the club serves.

“Maybe one weekend you’re going home and you’ve met someone else from your area who also wants to go home. Now you don’t have to travel alone and can also split expenses — all because ROOTERS connected you,” he said.

As Rider reaches out more to out-of-state applicants, increasing numbers of non-New Jersey residents have been enrolling. This trend has created the need for an organization to cater to the needs of these students — and ROOTERS is that organization.

Anyone interested in ROOTERS is encouraged to e-mail for more information.

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