‘Students Helping Students:’ Ouachita’s traditions live on, leave impact

As Tiger Tunes rolls around and people gather in buildings around campus to practice  wowing the audience with their dancing and singing skills, we would be remiss if we did not remember the good that this event does beyond the merriment in the auditorium.

This event also serves as a fundraiser for the Ouachita Student Foundation (OSF), where each dollar contributes to scholarships for juniors and seniors’ remaining experience at Ouachita Baptist University. They give these scholarships out to anyone, but will give preference to students who have achieved great academic success, campus leaders and finally those who are in financial need.

OSF was started back in 1974 and since then has always been focused on its tagline, “Students Helping Students.”

Though it was started 44 years ago, the organization didn’t actually host any of the events they do today. It wasn’t until the next year, 1975, that Dr. Ben Elrod took some inspiration from another university for their first event that continues to this day.

Dr. Ben Elrod had seen a similar organization at Indiana University and wanted to start something similar here,” said Jon Merryman, Director of Alumni Relations and the Ouachita Student Foundation.

At Indiana University, they host an annual event called the “Little 500”, which is a bicycle race at their Bill Armstrong Stadium. Dr. Ben Elrod witnessed this and brought this idea back to Ouachita as a fundraising event, and thus the first Tiger Traks was held in 1975. It consisted of “a tricycle race, a 30 mile bike race and a concert,” according to the 1975 yearbook. Of course the event would morph over the years into the messy-athletic mayhem that it is today.

“Dr. Elrod took a group of students to Baylor University as well to learn about their student foundation and their all-campus Sing – which inspired Tiger Tunes,” Merryman said.

In 1978, students came to Dr. Dan Grant proposing a show similar to Spring Sing, which is held at Baylor University. Though Spring Sing was the inspiration, Tiger Tunes grew into a show stopping performance of its own, in which the sole purpose was raising scholarship money for students.

OSF  has recently taken charge of “Tigers for Life,” at which the university and its different clubs and organizations host games and activities to thank each and every donor who continually gives to Ouachita. It is also an excellent opportunity to showcase alumni’s impact on students education. 

Of course there are the less popular events on campus that OSF is in charge of, such as the silent auction that takes place at each performance of Tiger Tunes. Also, this year, OSF is in charge of something new on campus, “Neighbor’s Table.” This organization was started by a Ouachita alumna named Sarah Harmeyer and its purpose is simply to bring people together. OSF has purchased two tables that now sit in the center of Grant Plaza. These tables can be used by students for different events or even just meals with a group of friends.

Those students who started the Ouachita Student Foundation way back then would be proud of the aspirations and achievements of the modern day board members–President Alec Edmonds, Vice President Selby Tucker and Special Events Director Jaret Webb. Even working through the summer, these leaders attended the National Conference for Student Advancement in Louisville to push themselves to be even greater leaders this semester.

The organization managed last year to exceed their goal of raising $100,000 and ultimately hit $115,000, and this year, the current board has decided to retain that very same goal.

OSF has gone on for many years now, and this being their 40th anniversary of Tiger Tunes they have some fantastic things in store.

“There are lots of special things planned in connection to Tunes including a reunion of past hosts and hostesses. They will perform in the finale of each Tiger Tunes performance,” Merryman said.

OSF has managed within the past 44 years of its existence to raise more than $1.5 million dollars in scholarship money.

By Brody Brown, staff writer 

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