Many Indiana University students are eager to give back. They demonstrate their generosity through acts large and small. They advocate, they give time—they even give their own dollars for causes they feel passionate about. And so, they learn to be better citizens. That’s a real treasure. Here are a few examples.
An All-Nighter With a Mission
The packed Wildermuth gym reminds Jill Stewart-Waibel, BS’92, of just how generous IU students can be. Every year, hundreds of IU students commit themselves wholeheartedly to an event Jill began, the IU Dance Marathon.
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Jill was a close friend of Ryan White, a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion at the age of 13. Jill drove him to high school and went with him to appointments at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Ryan passed away in 1991 after a five-year battle with the disease.
In 1990 Jill hit upon the idea of students dancing to raise money for charity and, a year later, the IU Dance Marathon began. Since then, committed students have danced through the night and raised funds throughout the year for Riley Hospital. In its 20 years, the event has raised more than $10 million, making it the second-most successful student-run philanthropic organization in the country.
The Dance Marathon also has inspired similar events, like the IUPUI Jagathon organized by the IUPUI Student Foundation. During this six-hour dance event, Riley Hospital children and patients attend to cheer on the IUPUI student dancers.
“College is [often regarded] as one of the most self-centered times in a young person’s life, but when students do something philanthropic, it sets the tone for the rest of their lives,” Jill notes. “They get a lot out of ‘paying it forward’ to others.”
IUSF and Class Acts
It’s the world’s greatest college weekend, and it’s not just because of the race.
The Little 500 is a prime example of how the IU Student Foundation encourages student philanthropy and volunteering. Through this student-run, annual IU tradition, IUSF provides 34 scholarships each year to working students.
In addition to this treasured IU tradition, the IUSF gives undergraduate students an opportunity each semester to implement a philanthropic project. The program is called Class Campaigns, and it partners undergraduates with a student or community group in the Bloomington area. Typically, the effort culminates in a fundraising event like, say, a Zumba-thon (part Latin dance, part aerobic exercise). That event benefited the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club as well as Girls Inc.
Less cardio-oriented efforts have included partnerships with Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, which saw students working at the local food pantry. Students also built a house for Habitat for Humanity and worked to sell fair trade coffee via a local coffee roaster.
So what about the seniors?
Each year, IUSF hosts the Black and White Gala, which grants funds to student organizations on the Bloomington campus. The funds for the grant are generated from donations by the outgoing senior class.
In years past, the grant has helped the campus’s Sierra Club chapter construct a solar array on the roof of the Indiana Memorial Union, and funded a proposal from Delta Gamma, Theta chapter, for a lecture series on ethics and values.
Most recently, the grant went to the Student Sustainability Council to put a reusable mug in the hands of incoming students. The goal: less waste when quenching thirst.
In a rural area outside of Xela, Guatemala, an IU student is helping a Guatemalan family meet with a doctor. Both student and doctor are part of a medical team, and while the doctor takes the mother’s blood pressure, the IU student helps by translating Spanish, and by making funny faces at the patient’s four-year-old daughter.
Founded by Chuck Dietzen, MD’87, Timmy Global Health is named after his older brother who passed away in infancy. Dr. Dietzen was inspired to create the nonprofit after working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, and experiencing firsthand the challenges underserved communities face.
The first student chapter of Timmy Global Health began at Indiana University in 1997. And each year since, teams of IU students have participated in the Indianapolis-based nonprofit’s medical teams to such countries as Ecuador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic.
The medical teams return to the same communities up to five times each year to promote long-term continuity and sustainability in their service provision. And Timmy Global Health ensures year-round impact by partnering with local organizations and working to strengthen their resources and capacity through financial support, in-kind donations, and investments in public health programming.
In its first year, IU’s Timmy chapter sent 25 students to Honduras. Today, there are chapters at 17 other universities throughout the United States as well as affiliations with a number of Indiana high schools.
Growing Great Ideas
Somewhere in Gary, someone’s taking a bite out of a great idea that began in an IU Northwest classroom. Well, specifically, he or she is eating a vegetable from a community garden.
Professor Ellen Szarleta of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs asked her students to create a sustainable project that would improve the well-being of the community. The garden was the brainchild of Carli Demeter, Stephanie McFadden, Michael Wineland, Megan Doughty, and Erika Hanrahan.
Today, it’s providing a portion of its yield to area food pantries and shelters. It goes to show that great ideas don’t have to remain inside the classroom. They can be served for dinner, too.
Yes, It’s Nearly Naked, But It’s for Charity
It’s October, and the IU sophomore doesn’t really feel the cold until after running a quarter of the Nearly Naked Mile. As the name indicates, he’s not wearing much. But he and all the other runners are wearing at least enough for decency’s sake.
The Nearly Naked Mile has caught on throughout IU, with runners lining up and stripping down from IU Southeast to IU Bloomington to IU South Bend and most IU campuses. Beyond defiance to the cold and flu season, there’s a reason for this chilly run. The students donate clothing for those who truly need it.
IUPUI RISEs to the Occasion
For an IUPUI student, the lesson—the life-changing kind of Lesson with a capital L—could come from revitalizing a neighborhood park or from listening to the stories of women at a local shelter.
This is service learning. In the case of the park, students in an Urban Geography course might work with a local nonprofit organization like Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to rehabilitate a neighborhood park, linking the service activity to what they are studying in class.
At the women’s shelter, students from a Collaborative Ethnography course would spend several weeks meeting with residents of a local women’s shelter to collect oral histories. Shelter residents and students would then work with the course professor to assemble and edit the histories into a compilation, which shelter staff could use to support their fundraising efforts and promote the empowerment of shelter residents.
Service learning is one of four components that IUPUI has chosen to make part of its newest scholarship program. Called RISE scholarships, recipients are required to successfully complete two of the following categories in their curriculum: Research, International study abroad, Service learning, or Experiential learning (Get it? RISE).
IUPUI is an excellent environment for all four, but service learning on campus is something special. For the fourth time in five years, the Corporation for National and Community Service has recognized the campus as a leader among institutions of higher education for its support of volunteering, service learning, and civic engagement.
In 2010–2011, IUPUI students provided an estimated total of 234,632 hours of service to the campus and Indianapolis community. This includes hours provided as part of service learning courses, scholarships and community work-study programs, and campus-wide service events. Anyone looking to give back would be in great company with figures like that.