Student-driven club gives new meaning to SOS

Lauren Neal, president of UOIT’s Students Offering Support chapter, is generating interest for the charitable group, and gearing up for their trial run Exam-AID session Dec. 1.

SOS is an apt acronym for a group on campus trying to make a difference. Students Offering Support is all about assisting students during exam time while helping other students better their education in Latin America.

Just in time for finals and in the giving spirit of the holidays, SOS provides three hour tutoring sessions called Exam-AID meetings. They are complete with a take-home study guide in exchange for a charitable donation, a maximum of $20, that goes towards building schools in developing countries.

The national SOS group was organized 10 years ago and is recognized across many Canadian university campuses, but is brand new at UOIT. The chapter is performing a trial run on Dec. 1 for students enrolled in Financial Accounting I.

Lauren Neal, a third-year accounting student at UOIT, is the founding president of the local chapter and spearheaded the club on her own.

“We were trying to find a class that people have trouble in,” she said about choosing the right class as a pilot. Financial Accounting had a particularly low class average, according to Neal.

She was a part of the UOIT Accounting Association and made contacts that were willing to donate their time to this trial run as tutors. Exam-AID instructors are students that have taken the course previously, scored top grades, and are able to share insight on the important materials to cover for the exam.

“I thought it was a good opportunity, it helps students here out (as well as students overseas),” said Nirojan Kukaneshan, an SOS volunteer. “I also get to display my expertise.”

The trial run will be held in a UA study room that holds at least 20 people, Neal said.

“We just want to see how people react to it,” she explained, joking, “hopefully it’s more than five people.”

Neal began organizing the club in January but hit a few roadblocks. UOIT already offers free tutoring sessions, so there was a conflict of redundancy. However, because SOS is a charitable organization, they were able to reach a deal where both could co-exist. The club was officially approved over the summer and is recognized and funded by the Student Association.

Other chapters across Canada are well established to the point where hundreds of students sign up for each Exam-AID session, according to the SOS website.

“We’re hoping it gets big,” Neal said. “There are so many benefits.”

Student Greg Overholt conceived the national SOS organization in 2004 at Wilfred Laurier University and within three years the group raised more than $100,000 and expanded to Trent University where the second chapter was born.

Last year there were 30 chapters across Canada, including several in the United States, and the organization continues to grow. SOS’s decade-long run has contributed $1.4 million to educational development projects in Latin America, also according to the main website.

UOIT students enrolled in first-year financial accounting can sign up for the Exam-AID session taking place on Dec. 1 via UOIT’s official SOS website. Students also have the opportunity to lend a hand away from home through SOS’s charitable development projects, or take part and contribute in numerous other ways by visiting their website.