After an 18-hour drive, I anxiously started to move my belongings back into my dorm room. I walked into the elevator and smiled as I saw one of the most frequent travelers on the elevator waiting for me ? a half-empty and forgotten can of Genny Light.
I was home.
Getting off the elevator, I did what many others had probably done that day. Instead of simply removing the lonely piece of refuse from the elevator and depositing it with its brothers in the recycling bin, I left it.
Going to my room, I noticed the quote on my door by Helen Keller, and immediately felt guilty. “Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all ? human apathy.” I gasped as I realized that I had committed a treacherous act of apathy.
A frequent complaint about this campus is the overarching spirit of apathy. Where Keller saw science fail, UR has tried to solve the problems by increasing school spirit. Unfortunately, this is just treating a symptom of a greater problem.
Garbage is still spread throughout the hallways, papers are strewn around entryways, concert attendance is shamefully low and sports attendance is still spotty.
However, there is not a lack of spirit on this campus ? it can be found at any party. What is lacking here is pride in this campus and in this community.
It is a common truth expounded at leadership conferences that the way to get a group to have pride is to make the members feel they have some sort of ownership in the group. This instills a sense of pride, which leads to caring.
The phenomenon can easily be seen by this simple experiment. Clean a common area in your dorm, and then see how you feel when your floormates start leaving half-eaten burritos there for a week.
I believe the administration can help to solve the pride problem here in a very simple way. Give the cleaning staff a month- long paid vacation. Human beings, even college students, will be driven to pick up after themselves when nothing has been cleaned.
If students on this campus were forced to take care of the areas they live, work, play and study in, I bet they would care more about how the campus appears. These little details have a large effect on the mindset of the students. And it is the minds of the students where apathy or pride starts.
Perhaps everyone on campus should try to fix the root of the problem instead of just putting a temporary bandage on it.
Miller can be reached at email@example.com.