Students should get more involved with campus activism

Now is the best time for St. John’s students to start participating in a wide range of activities that the campus has to offer.

November is Hunger Awareness Month, so what better time for students to participate in endeavors such as the ONE campaign and other advocacy organizations? Students nationwide have been overcome with the recent outbreak of philanthropy that has swept over college campuses. This move towards humanitarianism has been facilitated by the events of the ONE campaign: a nonpartisan, non-profit organization which aims to create the political will to end extreme poverty and fight global disease. Hollywood’s elite such as Ben Affleck and Ellen Pompeo, political figures, and sports icons such as Laila Ali, have spearheaded the campaign by placing their autographs on shirts that were auctioned and donated to the program and its projects.

ONE, as well as many other non-profit organizations, host events at college campuses across the nation in an effort to promote awareness, mobilize supporters around its issues and organize them into a lobbying force. There has been an increase in awareness and action due to the efforts of college students.

But have St. John’s students also been caught up in these philanthropic movements?

Jim Samuel, a former St. John’s student, and active member of the Inter-Christian Fellowship, detailed the endeavors of his group and others such as STAND and ASA, which is sponsoring the Keep a Child Alive initiative. Haraya and STAND, for example, are sponsoring the Save Darfur initiative. He also gave insight into the recent formation of the Campus Ministry for Social Issues group and its promising nature.

There are plenty of activist groups around campus. Students can participate in community service with Sigma Gamma Rho or go to the Ronald McDonald House to prepare meals and interact with the families residing in the facility.

Campus Ministry offers the chance for students to participate in mobile soup kitchens, the TLC Food Packing Day, as well as a host of other activities during this month.

The Fall Ball will be held at the Chaplin Nursing Home, there will be an AIDS in Africa forum, and a number of other events regarding awareness, advocacy and other social issues. There is no shortage of engaging and enlightening happenings at St. John’s University.

Many working students and those who rely on public transportation, however, were slightly dissatisfied with the late timing of some of the events and felt they would be more involved if the timing was convenient. “The organizations here do really nice things like the Habitat for Humanity, the AIDS forums and trips to the soup kitchen, but I have to work. I think if they started a little earlier, I’d be able to attend more,” said Danielle Castillo.

But students’ complaints were few in comparison to their many praises.

Most students were in agreement that the organizations and clubs that represent the school should be applauded for their efforts and the events they host as a whole, not just those that promote awareness and action. “I go on St. John’s Central at least once a week and look at what’s going on, and I look at all the flyers posted in the hallways, and there’s always something going on,” said Castillo.

The charitable efforts of all the organizations and clubs at St. John’s are commendable and every student should make an attempt to attend some of their activities. Firsthand experience can show just how rewarding and gratifying service activities can be.