Crisis Sparks Social Change on Campus

During the initial aftermath of hurricane, there was some serious lack of resources going around the university. I realize that normally I contain my posts and thought to Student Life and it’s leaders, but for this post I have to say some of the strongest and most impressive leaders were students I’d never met and never heard of. These new-found student leaders were inspired by the storm and the horrendous effects it had to become servant leaders. Without coercion, these leaders sprang into action to volunteer at shelters and to continually ask for more opportunities to help. These were students who were displaced from their residence halls and instead of looking for help were giving it. Never have I been more inspired than by the students I saw posting constantly on Facebook about the want to help.

In class we read about the concept of the Social Change model, and I believe that Hurricane Sandy has sparked a social change within the Rutgers community in a movement towards community and service. The societal value of citizenship in the social change model plays out greatly in this aftermath, with individuals putting aside their needs and those of their family and focusing on getting everyone back to normalcy, not just themselves. This is exemplified by these normal students getting off of their cots to go care for those who were evacuated from cities rather than residence halls. Citizenship requires a sense of drive, something that many of these students did not exhibit until the need of the community outweighed their own.

Another aspect of the social change model that was exhibited was the concept of collaboration. Immediately after losing power for more than 12 hours, dozens of student leaders began to communicate from all across the state in order to create aid for those students that needed it. Providing dinner for students through RUSA, but with support and collaboration between many directly advised groups was a big example of this. It was clear that collaboration was needed to continue to social change because where normally groups would sort of be “competing” for event attendance, each leader laid down their ego and supported RUSA, OCSA, and SVC instead of trying to re-invent the wheel of service each time. RUPA has taken the position of supporting SVC rather than create our own service initiatives because we believe in our SVC friends and we have felt the change starting around us towards community rather than organization pride.

Finally, social change has happened in terms of common purpose. The Rutgers community has always supported each other, but sometimes crisis sparks initiative and drive. Everyone has experienced something terrible together, and it’s now become a common purpose for our community to support each other and help in relief from the superstorm. This common purpose will inspire students to continually be involved and will give us a mission for years to come. It’s estimated that it will take two decades for New Jersey to fully recover from Hurricane Sandy, and that time will be hard for everyone in different ways, but I don’t think there is a single student at Rutgers now that doesn’t believe in helping those effected by Sandy, because that’s our common purpose and that’s all of us.

An example of this outside of Rutgers comes from the movie The Sandlot. In this clip below, we see the boys working together towards their new common purpose- to get the ball back. Before, there was some in-fighting, and popularity and skill were all factors in relationships. With a common purpose, much like the change here at Rutgers, everyone works together in order to achieve the same goal and every member of the community is valued.

(START AT 4:50)

Overall, the storm was a horrible thing that will take a long time to get over. But with a community like Rutgers initiating a social change towards working together, gearing towards service, and aiming everything we’ve got a relief, I believe that we can get through it. It’s amazing what social change does for even a “party school” like Rutgers- I can’t wait to show what this community is capable of.

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