Get ‘red-y’ for the newest student union on campus

 

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Students attending the first Red-Haired Student Union meeting gathered around a shrine dedicated to fellow redheaded celebrity Conan O’Brien. (Photo by Abby Wallisch) 

By Abby Wallisch

Members of a newly created club on the University of Maryland’s campus can thank genetics for making them naturally school spirited and automatically prepared for every Maryland sporting event.

Stocked with Wendy’s chicken nuggets, Cheetos and red-colored fruit punch, the UMD Red-Haired Student Union held their first meeting April 6 in Jimenez Hall.

The room was filled with about a dozen red-haired students and their ‘allies,’ gathered around a makeshift candlelit shrine, featuring a framed photo of Conan O’Brien and an originally-designed club crest.

The club’s president, freshman finance major Matt Saxton, plans to mail a photo of the Conan shrine and the club’s members to Conan himself, along with a written letter explaining the club.

“If any of his staff sees it, that will make me happy,” he said.

Saxton took it upon himself to create an outlet that would give redheaded students on campus the opportunity to form friendships from their shared trait. 

“Redheads make people really happy, at least in my opinion they do,” Saxton said.

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Photo by Abby Wallisch.

Although the red-haired community makes up the majority of the club’s members, it is not limited just to people who have red hair.

“We’re open to members of the red-haired community and their allies,” Saxton said. “All are welcome.”

During the meeting, preliminary members collectively created a list of goals that they would work toward accomplishing. They unanimously agreed that the university should reduce the amount of orange and red used in their university gear, as these colors conflict with their hair.

“I didn’t own red before I came to this school,” sophomore Katie Freels said. “If they could just go with more white or black, that would be very ideal.”

They discussed their thoughts on Kick a Ginger Day, which falls on April 20. The group hopes to instead promote Hug a Ginger Day on this day, in retaliation against anyone looking to kick someone with red hair.

At exactly 7:41 p.m., the brainstorming session was interrupted by an alarm, reminding Saxton to pass out SPF 40/50 sunscreen and aloe to each redhead in the room. He mentioned in passing to the group that his favorite sunscreen would have to be SPF 100+.

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Photo by Abby Wallisch.

Following their being gifted sunscreen, the group decided to dedicate their philanthropy to helping those with skin cancer, as well as promoting awareness of the dangers of not wearing sunscreen.

In collaboration with their philanthropy, they hope to encourage the campus to set up sunscreen dispensers and invest in a variety of shading, such as umbrellas, throughout campus.

Sophomore theater major Paige Weiss proposed the idea of members meeting at McKeldin Mall on a sunny day, and passing out bottles of sunscreen to students. 

Saxton hopes that if they are to receive SGA funding, events like these will be made possible.

Board members are in the process of becoming officially registered as a student organization on campus. They are currently looking for a faculty member with red hair to act as their advisor, and hope to have a minimum of 25 members so that they can receive SGA funding.

Saxton said he has heard talk of a theory in which redheads might eventually go extinct. If proven, he is unsure of what this holds for the future of the club and redhead.

“I’m pretty scared. I mean, the science is there,” Saxton said. “I guess for right now, I’m just trying to remain positive about it.”

The meeting left Saxton and accompanying board members hopeful for what the group can accomplish.

“I got no sleep last night from planning this, but I am fully awake from the energy of today, and I really feel like it’s going to be worth it,” Saxton said.

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