RIT is the only tech school to ever represent at CUPSI

For a university with ‘technology’ in its name, that’s really cool

For a university that literally has technology in its name, it’s assumed that what goes down here is all robots and engineering. For students who study anything outside of STEM at RIT, the question of why we even attend this school in the first place often comes our way.

RIT is a place where innovation and creativity exist peacefully within one body. The best example of this can be seen in the slam poets of Mental Graffiti. The performers come from all academic backgrounds that break the mold of the creative type.

As I sat through their recent Open Mic and Poetry Slam, I witnessed the very best minds spill their hearts out about forgotten loves, inevitable death, and weird Yik Yak threads. I witnessed brave souls belt their hearts out to songs they didn’t even completely know the lyrics to just for the fun of it. With each performance came a roaring cheer from a crowd of roughly 40.

When it finally came time for the Slam Poetry portion of the night, ten people had the opportunity to perform their best pieces under three minutes for a chance at winning prizes and an opportunity to represent RIT at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational better known as CUPSI. A group of randomly selected judges determined the fate of these poets using a dry eraser board and marker to write a score out of ten after each piece.

It almost seemed like every single word possessed you to snap your hands in appreciation. The audience did not hold back a single “Yas” whenever something resonated deep within them. In the end, three winners were chosen, but you were left feeling like every performer deserved a victory. It takes massive guts to put your deepest thoughts out in public like these ten brave souls did.

After the event was over, I spoke to Amy Helenek, a 3 year member of Mental Graffiti, who told The Tab about the club’s goal to “help poets with performance style and generally provide a fun atmosphere and safe space.”

Ash, an Executive Board member for Mental Graffiti told us RIT has been the only tech school to ever compete at CUPSI and it wasn’t easy getting there. They explained the club started 6 years ago with 5 years of representation at the conference. Their struggles begin and end with fundraising. Despite hosting raffles, selling chapbooks, and vigorous online efforts, the club fights for financial support to continue their representation in hopes to bring back a win for RIT.

For a tech school, Mental Graffiti brings out some of the best creativity on campus. Join their next Open Mic and Poetry Slam on October 6th to see the next three winners get crowned. Consider throwing in a couple bucks to their raffle or towards their original chapbook. It’s important to support and encourage the artistic side of RIT, and Mental Graffiti is the perfect place to start.

Rochester Institute of Technology