Assistant News Editor
When an organization has been around as long as the Society of Off Campus Students (SOCS), which has just this past weekend celebrated its thirtieth birthday, bumps in the road are often faced.
Whether it be the group’s journey from a club under the jurisdiction of the McMaster Students Union (MSU) into an independent society at the University or the yearly struggle to win the “Residence Cup,” SOCS has managed to stay strong and pull through.
Over the years, thousands of McMaster students have been given the opportunity to hold the position of Welcome Week representative for SOCS. In 2001, a student named Jamie Kuss was selected to represent SOCS during Welcome Week of that year. However, only days before Welcome Week was to begin, Kuss passed away after battling for some time with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoblastic lymphoma, which is a cancer that effects the lymphatic system.
Immediately following, SOCS began the James Kuss Memorial Fund, raising money for the McMaster University Bone Marrow/Leukemia Research Fund. For the past decade, SOCS has worked hard to raise money in Kuss’s name. Last weekend, a donation of $20,000 was made by SOCS to the Fund in Kuss’s name.
The initial presentation of the oversized cheque was made on Friday, Nov. 19. The Kuss family made a special appearance the following day at the SOCS 30th Anniversary party at the Phoenix, retelling Kuss’s story and thanking SOCS for the donation made in his honour.
Nichole Fanara, a current SOCS rep, explained that, “the speeches about Jaime Kuss were really moving, people were crying and they retold his story.”
Jamie’s big brother, Tim Kuss, gave a short speech on Saturday. He explained how he wanted Jamie to enjoy his first year at McMaster. However, he was worried when Jamie didn’t get into residence, which had been an important part of his own university experience.
Upon entering first year, Jamie chose to get invoved with SOCS instead, and became a valued member of the society, first as a member, and then as a rep in 2001. The audience listened in silence as Tim recounted the story, ending by explaining that just days before Welcome Week 2001 was to start, Jamie lost his battle with cancer.
The event overall was a very moving one, making past and present members extremely proud to be a part of the society.
Current SOCS Vice-President Athletics, Arjun Sithamparapillai, stated that “It makes me proud to be part of a society whose spirit and dedication shows no parameters. It is extremely rare to witness established alumni cheering as if it was still Welcome Week.”
The event also served as a museum for thirty years’ worth of SOCS items. Whitney Evans, current SOCS Vice-President Social, stated that “the memorabilia room made SOCS alumni feel at home, with old photos, trophies, t-shirts, posters and more.”
Kaialise Mattiozzi, current SOCS Vice-President Promotions, added, “To see the past, present and future of SOCS congregate under one roof was fantastic. To also see the changes SOCS had gone through over the years, as well as what hadn’t changed, was truly remarkable. I thought I couldn’t love SOCS any more than I did, but that night proved me wrong.”