With over 400 registered student organizations (RSOs) on campus, Illinois State offers students a multitude of opportunities to explore their interests, develop new hobbies, and build a community. As new Redbirds with their own unique passions enroll every year, that number only continues to grow.
In the past year, Redbirds have formed several new RSOs. These groups offer students ways to explore a wide variety of interests, from learning about new cultures to getting involved in their community.
Find out more about some of the new groups that are eager for students to join.
While spending her spring semester at home, Krystina Wayne, like many others who found themselves restless during quarantine, began to hike. In her search for parks to visit, she said she discovered diversity-based groups that had a focus on the inclusion of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in outdoor recreation. Upon learning more, she decided to start Brown Boots at Illinois State.
The RSO is geared toward getting students of color involved in the outdoors, something Wayne, a senior geography major and president of the organization, said they are not often encouraged to do.
“I think it’s important to have that space because everyone comes from a different place and a different background,” Wayne said. “Where they’re from, the environment around them, safety—those are the things that I think about when I’m out. It’s just something that I think we notice as minorities, and being together would hopefully encourage a safer environment.”
Members are hoping to hold one meeting and one outdoor event every month, and they have already begun planning.
“We’re planning on doing some kayaking trips, maybe doing some with (Campus Recreation) because the Rec has those adventure trips,” Wayne said. Wayne has her eye on a couple of possible destinations, including Starved Rock State Park and Comlara Park.
While the group was formed last spring, it did not hold any meetings, due to the pandemic. Now that in-person classes have brought students back to campus, Wayne is looking forward to getting together with other members. She said almost 300 students signed up for the group at Festival ISU.
The representation of women in politics is extremely important to Hailee Wilmoth. After switching to legal studies and adding a minor in political science, she was eager to find resources, which is how she discovered IGNITE.
Initially, Wilmoth was looking for general professional development organizations rather than a group geared specifically toward women. “But then IGNITE came up,” Wilmoth said, “And I absolutely fell in love with what they stood for, and just everything that they’ve been doing, and then when I found that they have college chapters all around the country, I was like, ‘This is perfect. This is definitely something that I want to do.’”
IGNITE is a national organization of women looking to broaden their understanding of politics. Wilmoth, a sophomore and the president of Illinois State’s IGNITE chapter, decided to bring this opportunity to campus this academic year.
Starting the Illinois State chapter of IGNITE meant a chance for Wilmoth to provide female students a space where they could develop their skills and express their interest in politics. The organization gives students the resources they need to become comfortable operating in political and corporate environments through developmental workshops and guest speakers.
Workshops will cover basic career prep, including resume building, creating an effective LinkedIn account, and getting professional headshots taken.
IGNITE will also offer a mentor program, through which younger students can connect with upper-class students, and get guidance from women who might have been in the same position that they are.
The organization is not exclusive to students studying politics.
“We want everybody. It doesn’t matter what major or minor,” Wilmoth said, “If you have an interest in politics, you’re more than welcome.”
In hopes of building community and preserving the autonomy of Indigenous nations, Nitakechi Muckintubbee (Choctaw and Chickasaw), founded the Organization of Indigenous Autonomy (OIA), a national nonprofit that works toward the self-sustainability and sovereignty within Native American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander communities.
Muckintubbee, a sophomore history education major and chief executive of the OIA, decided to bring the organization to campus in the form of the RSO TRIBE (Teach, Revive, Indigenize, Beautify, and Equalize). The RSO offers Indigenous students a space to celebrate their culture, learn about their history, and get involved within their communities.
“It’s a lot of finding these people who are Native American, but don’t talk about it a lot because they think it might be weird to ‘come out’ about their culture,” Muckintubbee said, “A lot of people feel that way; they don’t want to lose friends or be stereotyped because they’re Native American. That’s something that we all face in marginalized groups.”
One of the key objectives of TRIBE is giving back to Indigenous communities. He said this could be accomplished in part by picking up litter and working to protect native plant species used for medicinal purposes. “We try our best to be good wards for this place.”
Muckintubbee said TRIBE offers a lot of opportunities for not just Indigenous students, but also allies, “We’re not restricted on the basis of race or ethnicity. We love anybody that wants to come and work with us and that wants to explore authentic Native American culture, as well as activism for our communities.”
Redbirds en Ritmo
This RSO welcomes dancers of all levels, as the goal of Redbirds en Ritmo is simply to introduce students to Latin dancing in an environment that is both welcoming and exciting. According to club President Jessica Ochoa, this organization is about pushing students outside of their comfort zone, as they learn and perform several different Latin dance styles.
Ochoa, a junior elementary education-bilingual studies major, said the organization can offer students a way to become familiar with different groups on campus, as well as develop relationships with one another in person.
“We felt we needed more ways to support, the diverse groups that we have here on campus,” Ochoa said. She said the RSO offers people the chance to connect and socialize after being indoors throughout the pandemic.
The group will meet from 6:30-9 p.m. every Wednesday, to learn and perform dances in different styles. A professional dance instructor will come in each week and host an hour-long instruction period, where members will learn the choreography of the dance. The hour of instruction will then be followed by an open dance session.
Redbirds en Ritmo would like to host dances to get other students involved. These events would not be performances, but rather dance socials, where club members and nonmembers alike could share their passions for dance.
While the group is working alongside a professional instructor, Ochoa assures those interested that dancers of all levels are welcome to participate.
“Previous to this, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m not a dancer. I don’t like dancing; it’s not my thing.’ but then I learned it was my thing,” Ochoa said, “So, I’m looking forward to helping people realize that maybe dancing is their thing when they didn’t even know.”
Explore opportunities to get involved in Illinois State student organizations at RedbirdLife.IllinoisState.edu.