Maybe I’m starting to get sentimental, but this year—my last as an Illinois State student—Founder’s Day (Thursday, February 21) seemed to be an event I should pay attention to. I also teach a course on campus, and I started the ISU holiday by asking my students if they knew what the particular day was. After getting responses like “Thursday?” and “The day before Friday” I felt like it was my duty to enlighten them on this fine institution they decided to become a part of.
While I touched on the history a bit, I also spent a few minutes talking to them about the important role their university plays at helping them get involved (politically, socially, and professionally). Unfortunately, I don’t get much time to talk about it in a regular classroom session, but since I’ve got this website to rant about it…I want to take a few minutes to talk about student involvement on campus. Illinois State has been working on their Educating Illinois initiative, a report that outlines the university’s goals, mission, and values. One of their values includes civic engagement—promoting active learning experiences through which students will gain an awareness and understanding of civic engagement.
I could spend more time bogging you down on textbook definitions of the term, but what I really want students, citizens, people, groups, and even animals to do is GET INVOLVED in something they care about. ISU offers nearly 300 registered student organizations, and that doesn’t even begin to include the many opportunities available by the surrounding Bloomington-Normal community. I would love if students stopped by our office and wanted to chat about how they can help the Office of Sustainability, but I know that our mission may not always align with others. However, imagine what our campus would be like, and what could be accomplished, if every student decided to join one organization, help one cause, or sign one petition. I’ve taken courses where we have talked about how an organized group of ISU students could inspire change (regardless of what that change may be), but I’m really looking forward to the day that it does happen.
I have read this same article I’m writing a billion times, and I know I’m reiterating the points that are made by my other teachers, friends, parents, and mentors, but if we keep talking about civic engagement, service learning, and volunteer work, maybe, just maybe, it will stick in the head of one person—and that’s good enough for me. I know that most people who read this will just click back on to Facebook, but for a few I hope this resonates with you, and if it does, tell me about it! Let me know what you’re doing on ISU’s campus, in our community, state, or another country by sharing your story with me.
I’m only a few months away from becoming an ISU alum for good, however I look forward to what future generations can accomplish. Hopefully the special day our university takes to recognize alumni won’t be just another “Thursday”, but a day to recognize the many ISU students that have become founders of change helping to make our world a better place.
So how can you get involved? Here’s a start…
Bring It Back to Normal (A day of service projects for ISU students in the community)