ASUCR held its fourth annual R’Gear giveaway at the SRC North on Thursday, April 13, where they distributed UCR-themed sweaters and organized a canned goods drive. The event, attended by approximately 3,500 students, also featured a guest DJ and collaboration with other student organizations. This year, the sweaters are black with a graphic displaying the iconic “C” atop Box Springs Mountain and read “uc riverside” below.
ASUCR members and volunteers began to distribute sweaters at around 5 p.m., however, hundreds of students were already gathered before that time to receive one of 3,400 sweaters available that day. In total, 4,040 sweaters were ordered for the event, of which 740 were immediately transferred to the Student Disability Resource Center and Residential Life.
Residential Life will distribute their share of sweaters to first-year students who did not have the opportunity to receive R’Gear that day, according to Jose Cortez-Hernandez, ASUCR vice president of finance. Meanwhile, the Student Disability Resource Center will use their share for students who utilize their center. The 740 sweaters were split evenly between both departments.
Along with the distribution of R’Gear, ASUCR collected canned goods that went toward Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that feeds 46 million people through shelters and food pantries, including UCR’s R’Pantry.
Although the canned goods collected that day weren’t exclusively for the R’Pantry, Andrea Cuevas, the logistics coordinator for the event and vice chair of the personnel committee for ASUCR, said that it was an “indirect way of helping out the R’Pantry.”
Cortez-Hernandez said that the R’Pantry made it aware that they weren’t “capable of taking a large amount of donations” such as the amount of canned goods collected that day.
Cuevas further explained that “we (ASUCR) want this (event) to be a hangout place” to “rally people up” and become informed about all the “different clubs and resources … such as CARE.” CARE, short for Campus Advocacy, Resources and Education, is a program dedicated to ending sexual violence at UCR. Along with CARE, the UCR School of Medicine and other clubs such as the Oceana Dance Club, cheer team and Make-a-Wish Foundation were present at the event.
Though the R’Gear launch was executed without major complications, the early organization of the event was mired in controversy. R’Gear faced much scrutiny prior to the program’s final approval. President Aram Ayra, Executive Vice President Carisha Moore and Vice President of External Affairs Jonathan Li vetoed the allocation of funding for R’Gear on March 7, claiming it wasn’t “in the best interest of students,” said Ayra. Cortez-Hernandez successfully challenged the veto the next day in the ASUCR Judicial Council, which voted to allow the allocations to go through. Addressing these issues, Cuevas said while there may be people against R’Gear, there are also “a lot of people who look forward to it.”
Furthermore, when asked if she believed the money for the event could be used to fund other programs, Cuevas said R’Gear only accounts for “less than four percent of our remaining budget” and that there are “senators who should be making projects happen,” therefore R’Gear is “justifiable.”
Cuevas also stated that the purpose of the event was to provide “jackets for students at no additional cost from what they already pay.” R’Gear, however, only provides 4,040 sweaters, providing sweaters for less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate student population. Additionally, every student at UCR also pays fees for ASUCR which funds R’Gear.
Cortez-Hernandez said although there is opposition, most of it comes from a certain “group of people” and that despite this opposition, the “vast majority likes it.”
Cortez-Hernandez also attempted to prove the program’s popularity by alluding to the the fact that there were no more sweaters available by around 8:45 p.m., which was earlier than expected. Cortez-Hernandez estimates that about “100 people,” including those on their way to the event, were left without sweaters.
R’Gear, Cortez-Hernandez said, is an attempt to stimulate school pride, noting that in the past people would wear sweaters from other schools. When asked why he believes school spirit is important, Cortez-Hernandez said that when he got to UCR, there was a negative connotation as to what UCR was a “rejects school.”
In regards to the future of R’Gear, Cortez-Hernandez said he hopes that next year the canned goods can be directly donated to the R’Pantry given the program’s success this year.
Cortez-Hernandez also gave insight into ASUCR’s plan for addressing some of the lack of resources students face. One of their plans, originally proposed by CHASS Senator Mariam Alkhalili, involves providing around 200 lab coats for students during the CNAS Research Expo which is scheduled for May. ASUCR also plans to start a gown rental program for graduating students, which Cortez-Hernandez hopes will start near the end of this quarter but says will likely be in place next year.