By: Ian Maikisch
Ripped pants, black T-shirts with political figures’ faces printed on them and army boots – this probably isn’t the outfit that you think of when you hear about “rush event” on a college campus. You probably think of Polos, Chubbies shorts, visors and everything else that’s stereotypical for someone in Greek life to wear.
However, this week on the University of Florida and Santa Fe College’s campuses, army boots will be walking through the halls to recruit students during an organizational fair called Radical Rush.
Radical Rush will occur Monday and Tuesday at UF’s Plaza of the Americas and Wednesday at SF’s Oak Grove from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
For the past two decades Radical Rush has come to Gainesville’s higher educational establishments in an effort to introduce students to progressive, alternative groups in the city, according to Civic Media Center Coordinator, Emily Arnold.
“My goal with ‘Rad Rush’ is for students to learn new perspectives, to gain more information on what is happening in Gainesville and to get involved,” Arnold said. “We need more grassroots organizers and more students willing to step up and take action for their community.”
Radical Rush will feature organizations like the Gainesville Anti-Fascist Committee, Alachua County Labor Coalition, Divest Gainesville and over 20 more organizations and groups trying to recruit young and energetic volunteers.
The energy all these radical activists and community leaders bring to the colleges has culminated in some interesting things in the past. Punks with tattoos and piercings have handed out flyers to manicured sorority girls who smell like a fowl combination of hair spray and nail polish remover. If that isn’t obscure enough, anarcho-folk singer Lars Din has stood on a soapbox in UF’s plaza, belting his songs of revolution for all to hear.
Radical Rush has helped local groups and national chapters of activist organizations recruit hundreds of young students to help fight for their causes, according to Arnold.
“The connections that happen and the conversations that are shared are absolutely beautiful,” she said. “There is this immense feeling of solidarity and interconnectedness with all that we struggle to fight for.”
Radical Rush started in 1998 by the Civic Media Center to commandeer the idea of “entertaining bids” to their benefit, according to Arnold.
“At first the CMC’s volunteers jokingly talked about having a CMC version of a Greek rush,” she said. “The idea of people ‘rushing’ into progressive activist organizations as an alternative to Greek life was more of a success then those volunteers could imagine.”
20 years later and the organizational fair is still going strong. Come Monday, students walking through Plaza of the Americas will be confronted with radical organizers soliciting them to sign petitions and email lists. The feeling in the air will be one of revolution, activism and change.
“There is a feeling that change can and will happen,” Arnold said.