By Brendan Klein
When I applied to St. John’s University, I had to submit an essay explaining what I believed the biggest challenge my generation faced was. My answer, at the time, was caring. It is still my answer today.
I have always been interested in writing an opinion about this issue, but it was the open forums at the student senate meetings that reminded me of the timeliness of caring. Simply put, there are too many people on these campuses who do not show concern for the community and the talents that our peers offer.
For those who know me, know that I do not have much free time. But I always make an effort to be engaged in what I do. Or to be engaged in what others do. I believe that to have a vibrant community, you must be engaged. You need to participate. This might seem like a world made for extroverts but being involved means being present. You do not have to be a leader, a speaker or an organizer. They would all be nothing if no one followed, listened or volunteered. But by being present, we demonstrate that we see people for who they are and communicate to them that we see the value in what is important to them.
The problem is that if we based what the community cares about off of participation, it would be football, parties on the weekend and large concerts. This is what the majority of the student body seems to cares about. I was abroad this fall but I was able to watch a live stream of the St. John’s Senate open forum on community relations and alcohol incidents. Brother Willie’s was packed with students. This Monday and past Wednesday there was another forum, this time about inclusivity on campus. Though these forums were well attended, they were nowhere near the attendance levels of the one in the fall. By the logic of attendance, alcohol culture was more important to the student body than the fact that many of our fellow Bennies and Johnnies experience discrimination. As a community, we should be ashamed by this.
It is for this reason that we need to force ourselves to be involved and attend the various events put on by our peers. It is not enough to do one thing on campus. We are a liberal arts institution that believes in the value of diverse education. We should be thankful that we have the ability to witness the amazing talents that our classmates have, to soak in their passions. This is your best chance to be exposed to new ideas, foods and people. We need to ask ourselves the Good Samaritan question: “Will I keep walking, or am I going to stop and care?” Too often we, particularly Johnnies, decide to “keep walking” and stay uninvolved, lessening the value of our community.
The beauty of caring is that it has a multiplying effect. By you caring, someone else will start to care, and then someone else, and then someone else. Eventually, we will have an engaged campus that makes everyone feel welcome and valued.
It is time to stop caring only about sports events and drinking, but in each other as well. This is not a call to do everything, but simply a plea to do something. Help make someone’s day by showing them you care. Acknowledge their passion and they will acknowledge yours. Small gestures can make a big impact. This inactivity can go on no longer. It is time to get involved. Are you going to keep walking, or are you ready to stop and care?
This is the opinion of Brendan Klein, SJU junior