Jars filled with ideas for good deeds appeared all over campus this week to encourage students to be kind to one another.
This week, Class Board, Undergraduate Assembly and Penn Wellness organized “Random Acts of Kindness,” an initiative to spread positivity on campus. The groups placed jars in dining halls, residence halls, classrooms and other public spaces on campus.
2018 Class Board member and College senior Sophia Busacca spearheaded the initiative. She was inspired by one of her high school clubs as well as the book “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton professor Adam Grant.
The deeds in these jars included simple suggestions like “check in on a friend from high school” to more long-term commitments like “volunteer at the Netter Center.” Event coordinators encouraged undergraduate students, graduate students, professors, Penn staff and Philadelphia residents to all participate.
Students have had mixed reactions to the initiative.
College junior Maria Formoso, who works at the Information Center in Van Pelt Library, said she noticed students coming to take deeds from the jar placed at the end of the front desk.
“I overheard one girl pull out a deed that read ‘share your study guide’ and right away she said, ‘no way that'll mess up my curve,’” she said. “I just thought that was a very Penn moment.”
College freshman P.J. Shoemaker said he picked two different deeds from a jar: “contact a teacher that made a difference in your life” and “support Penn’s athletes by going to a sporting event.”
“Honestly, I’ve done both of these things in the last week,” he said. “While I think it's a good thing for people to be reminded to be kind to one another short term, I also think it's a little sad that you have to tell Penn students to be nice to people.”
Busacca said she thought the initiative went well, adding that the initiative’s Facebook event got over 600 responses. She noted the project was most successful among freshmen because “it was the most accessible to them.”
She added that she has spoken to freshmen about continuing the program after she graduates.
“In light of everything that has happened — like what happened at [the University of Virginia] — as well as what is happening with our country and administration, I feel like the world needs more kindness,” she said.