Call me an optimist, but I like to believe that people on this campus aren't as apathetic as we may appear. I like to think that Penn students care about the world around them and have some idea as to the positive impact they can make. But I also know a great deal of Penn students are lazy. We want to throw the change in the bucket on Locust Walk, not stand behind that bucket for six hours a day, trying to raise money for our cause. And if we think other people are going to spearhead a philanthropic movement, we too often gladly step down and let them take care of everything. In essence, we all want to be charitable. The only thing we don't want to give is our time. That's a very sad thing. Because, ultimately, the success of the philanthropic movements on campus rely on people caring enough to clear their schedules as well as their wallets. This week alone, the Half Shekel campaign was on the Walk raising money and awareness for the United Jewish Appeal; Alpha Chi Omega sisters were raising money to support domestic abuse education and students were selling daffodils for the American Cancer Society. There may even be groups I forgot -- and therein lies the problem. Because if more people were active in the philanthropies they cared about, they could broaden awareness of their causes and be even more successful. And on a larger scale, philanthropic events can serve to bridge cultural, ethnic and religious gaps and bring together different groups on campus. Unfortunately, the demise of Cancer Ball means that Penn no longer has a charity event that doesn't implicitly discriminate. Events sponsored by a specific group -- whether it's religious, cultural or Greek -- tend to discourage those who don't belong to that group from attending. Since Cancer Ball was independently organized, it offered everyone the chance to buy a ticket, get dressed up and attend without feeling as though they didn't fit into the scene. Perhaps we should take the lead from our friends at other schools. Across the country, Dance Marathon -- a party where teams dance for up to 30 hours straight and compete to be the last one standing -- tends to be the largest student-run philanthropic fundraisers at a large number of schools. While individual groups on campus may sponsor teams that participate, Dance Marathon is ultimately open to participation from the entire student body. And although the idea may seem cheesy, the fundamental notion that one event can raise over $10,000 for charity should not be taken lightly. So why doesn't Penn have its own Dance Marathon, and where did Cancer Ball go? Although the answers are surely very complicated, they boil down to the fact that just not enough people are willing to sacrifice their free time to make these large events happen year after year. And when those who are willing to give of themselves graduate, they often take their legacies with them. Admittedly, events like those take tremendous effort to organize, and sometimes the size of the event is unimportant compared to the impact that an individual cause may make. However, all too often we walk down Locust Walk and give spare change without even stopping to learn about to whom we're giving it. If I'm right about Penn students -- that we do care -- it's about time that we start showing it. Never again in our lives -- or at least not until we're retired -- will we have as much free time as we do now. Think about how many movies you sit and watch on ResNet every week, or how many hours you spend playing video games. Now take one or two and, instead, think about working towards a cause that makes people's lives better. Almost everyone I know did some sort of philanthropy and community service in high school. And the instant we set foot on this campus, I would say at least 50 percent of those people forgot what it meant to sacrifice that time. While we are here -- amongst so many other people who do care and act on behalf of something -- we should take advantage of that time and the concerned community around us to make some sort of difference or contribute to a meaningful cause. We all have a thousand opportunities at our fingertips. There are hundreds of causes on this campus looking for active participants. Let's remember spending our college years contributing to something more than a high score on Snood.Comments powered by Disqus
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