By Camryn Manning, Opinions Editor
October 3, 2023
The year 2024 marks 50 years of the Ouachita Student Foundation (OSF), an organization that serves to provide students with scholarships, maintain tradition, cultivate a philanthropic campus culture and act as student ambassadors of Ouachita. Georgia Richards, OSF vice president; Cabb Batson, president; and Jon Merryman, director, reflected on OSF and what it means to Ouachita.
“Our motto is ‘Students Helping Students,’” Richards said. “We raise money for student scholarships for our classmates to stay on campus. It’s cool to see the impact it has.”
OSF is involved in all areas of campus.“We have different committees, and one is student recruitment,” Merryman said. “When admissions is overloaded or there are a lot of people on campus, OSF students give campus tours.”
OSF members are a crucial part of student recruitment as representatives of Ouachita to prospective high school seniors. “Usually the first person you talk to as a student coming to visit is an OSF member,” Richards added. “It’s neat to get to be on the other side of it now as a member of OSF.”
Another key committee of OSF is philanthropy. “They help put together Tiger For Life week, and their whole job is to create a philanthropic vibe on campus,” Merryman said. “We’re not just here for scholarships. We also want to support students to give back to what they are passionate about. Tiger For Life used to just be from the development office, and about asking students and alumni to give financially back to Ouachita when they can ‘just to keep the lights on.’ Now, it’s more than that. We do the Fund Run to raise money for philanthropy and Scoops for Scholarships as well.”
OSF is gearing up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization in 2024. “We’re on the front end of it celebrating early,” Batson commented. “We’re doing a full calendar year of celebrating it until December of 2024.”
OSF was started in 1974 by Ouachita’s president Dr. Dan Grant, and Tiger Tracks came along in 1975. Tracks looked much different then than now. Instead of a competitive field day, Tracks held a bicycle race, a celebrity tennis match and concert. By the 1980s, Tracks was much more like it is today, with the eventual addition of tricycle races.
Five years after OSF’s founding, Tiger Tunes began. Baylor University’s all-campus Sing tradition taught OSF members and faculty how to run a show like Tunes, and the implementation of it at Ouachita was a hit. This avenue of fundraising has been successful at Ouachita for 45 years, and this year was no exception. The crowds at Tunes in Sept. were record-breaking. “It’s the most we’ve ever sold,” Merryman said.
OSF serves to ensure that Tiger Tunes is not only a time to raise money. It is also a fun and memorable experience for those participating. “We couldn’t do it without the clubs,” Merryman said. “If one day the clubs decided to just not do it, we wouldn’t have a show anymore. But we appreciate that they see the greater good in it, and so many of them are on OSF scholarships and know the impact. The bigger it gets, the more of them that get that money. That said, we try to shave down the practice time so that it’s not totally intervening in their lives and education but also gives them time to prepare a great show. It’s the reason I came to school here because I saw Tunes myself.”
Tiger Tunes is a reason many students choose OBU, and OSF ensures that Tunes really is as much fun as it looks. “We really want to make sure that students enjoy their Tiger Tunes experience,” Batson said. “That’s why we do things like club love and snacks, because they’re giving up all this time to support something for us that will obviously come back to them and their fellow students, but we’re asking a lot of them and you have to encourage an environment where it’s fun and exciting to be a director or member of a show.”
Tunes also serves as a bonding experience for those participating. “For upperclassmen especially, it’s cool to watch them bond throughout the season,” Richards said. “You see them build this friendship and find their niche. The community built into Tunes is a huge thing that comes out of it that a lot of people don’t expect going into it.”
Scholarships that OSF raises money for through Tiger Tunes and other events open for applicants in the spring, and those that apply must have junior or senior hours the next fall.
“We really want to be able to help as many students stay on campus as possible,” Richards said. “After all, OSF’s main goal is ‘students helping students,’ and we’ve been here for 50 years for just that.”