Out-of-state student organization eases the transition to Rutgers
For many out-of-state students, coming to Rutgers means experiencing the frustration of Route 18 rush-hour traffic and enjoying their first Wawa sub. Though this transition may be difficult, the Rutgers Out-of-State organization tries to smooth the social transition.
The Rutgers University Out-of-State Student Organization (OOSSO) makes an effort to unite the out-of-state community through advocacy initiatives and social programming, according to the organization’s website.
Students from California-founded OOSSO five years ago with a goal of making their voices heard by the University and creating a place where out-of-state students could make connections, said Haille Thomas, secretary of OOSSO.
The organization aims to give out-of-state students the opportunity to meet others from or near their home states. Together, these students aim to solve common problems caused by their distance from home, the School of Arts and Sciences senior said.
“Being far from home, many students do not have the luxury of to just go home and do laundry, or eat home-cooked meals whenever they want,” said Julia Freeman, the vice president of OOSSO and a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Without a car on campus, Freeman said some out-of-state students do not have access to general resources such as groceries.
Last year, she said the organization took a trip to Philadelphia, where about 15 members experienced the city's culture. Freeman said that the organization plans on continuing this trip to Philadelphia next year.
“We walked nearly 10 miles that day through a majority of the city. We, of course, had Philly cheese steaks and went to ring the Liberty Bell,” Freeman said.
Originating with only a five-person executive board, the organization has grown to more than 200 members.
Freeman is also proud of how close the entire group of students has become in such a short amount of time.
“Many Members have found that OOSSO is their home away from home and have found many of their closest friends here. It is great to find someone going through similar experiences when it feels like not many people understand you,” Freeman said.
The organization is pushing the University for resources such as transportation and storage that would benefit students who live thousands of miles away, Freeman said
“Having to rent trucks, get boxes, and move everything ourselves has taken a toll on our wallets and hindered our study time during finals week. In situations like that, it would be nice to have some sort of help from Rutgers University,” Freeman said.
Although OOSSO is an asset to the Rutgers community, whose make-up is 17 percent out-of-state students, Thomas said not many people know the organization exists. For first-year students, the organization provides a home away from home for those from all around the world.
"It seems like a small amount, but there is a big number of us since it’s a big school, and we provide a different perspective," Freeman said. "Our organization is an asset to the Rutgers community because we show how appreciative we are to be here, and our proof is in our long distance travels."