Over the past two years, I have noticed that students as a whole are less socially and environmentally conscious than in the past. There is very little activism at UR and students seem more concerned about what is going on in their social system of academia than in the world outside of college. As a senior, I remember there used to be a lot more happening to make students socially aware. Now, there seems to be a general sense of apathy and a lack of empathy among students.

What ever happened to the Students for Social Justice? When I first started working on the paper I remember they always used to make headlines in the Campus Times and create controversy. They would stage protests and demonstrations to raise the awareness of issues. Now you wouldn’t even know if they exist.

One group that I think has been successful at getting its message across about issues that students should be aware of is Grassroots. This group has held several events addressing the need for environmental action. It organized a cleanup on the banks of the Genesee River in the beginning of the semester. Two weeks ago they held the event Mount Trashmore, a public display of refuse in front of Wilson Commons to make students aware of the amount of garbage the Pit generates in a day.

Wilson Day and Be the Change Day are good examples of events students should be participating in more often, but these are isolated instances and only happen once a year. Students need to realize that there is much more that they should be doing to make a considerable difference year round.

With the installation of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at UR, maybe more students will get involved with the social advancement that the institute is working to achieve and actuate their potential.

A simple contribution that students can make this time of year is to donate to a holiday food drive for Thanksgiving or Christmas. There are a number of UR groups that are running food drives with readily accessible donation boxes. All it takes is $5 or less of declining on an acceptable item in the Corner Store.

We are all busy college students and have a lot to worry about concerning classes, class work and our social lives. Despite this, we can make time to make a difference or create some dialogue about what issues concern us and raise awareness. We as students need to find out what is going on in our country and the world, check the news and find out what really matters in order to take a step forward.

Maybe more students than this are participating and making contributions to society and the environment while trying to raise the awareness of crucial issues, but people like me don’t know about their work. If this is the case, then their actions need to be brought to the forefront to make people cognizant of what is being achieved and what needs to be accomplished.

Levy is a member of the class of 2008.

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