In the end, their efforts were unsuccessful. The International Olympic Committee voted Friday to give the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro. But Chicago’s bid for the Games was helped on its way to the final day of voting by the many student supporters who spread awareness and excitement for the potential host city.
“There’s going to be a huge gathering downtown at Daley Plaza on Friday,” Loyola University Chicago student Luke Courtright said, although he will be in class during the announcement.
Loyola University Chicago student Luke Courtright was one of the organizers of the Loyola chapter of Students Support Chicago 2016, a “campaign that gets students across the nation engaged in creating awareness and generating support for Chicago’s bid,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
Courtright started volunteering after applying for a summer internship with Chicago 2016. “It’s pretty much been a process of spreading the word and educating the people who might not know exactly what’s going on,” he said in an e-mail interview. “The more support, the better.”
Elizabeth Planek is another Loyola student who did what Courtright calls “the heavy lifting.” Planek, president of Loyola’s athletic spirit group, was contacted by the head of the Student Effort at Chicago 2016 to help spread the word.
“We volunteered at a parade, held information booths at school events and raised awareness of the Chicago 2016 bid. I also went to information meetings with heads of the Olympic Committee,” she said in an e-mail interview.
The students set up a table during Loyola’s Welcome Week, and got an enthusiastic response from students signing up for Chicago 2016′s newsletter.
“It’s definitely in the high triple digits,” Courtright said.
Loyola was not the only university with student support chapters. According to the group’s Facebook page, there were at least 18 universities with their own chapters of the group.
There are about 35 students in the Facebook group for St. Louis University’s chapter, said Danielle Surch, who worked as SLU’s student representative for Chicago 2016. The marketing major and sports business and communications minor thought volunteering would be in line with her future goals.
“I think having the opportunity to work for Chicago 2016 would be ideal for my career path,” Surch said.
The work she did is similar to Courtright’s and Planek’s efforts.
“Last year we held a booth with different facts on Chicago 2016 and recruited students to sign up to ‘Back the Bid,’” she said in an e-mail interview.
Surch said Chicago’s strongest argument for the bid was its attention to environmental issues.
“The fact Chicago wants to make the 2016 Olympics the greenest Olympics yet is a huge advantage,” she said. “I feel that since Chicago 2016 is promoting the going green movement it will give them the additional boost.”
Courtright felt its biggest advantage lie in its readiness to host such a huge international event.
“Chicago’s known for its diversity and will surely embrace the wide variety of events,” he said. “There’s a lot to like.”
Even though Chicago was not picked, Planek would like to continue the kind of work she has been doing.
“If we don’t win, I will continue with some of the efforts that have been made to continue athletic movements in Chicago,” she said.