At University, this month is for kindness

Planners said they hope to promote collaboration among student groups.

University sophomore Irene Fernando said student participation on campus is low, but she wants to change that.

This month, approximately 60 student organizations will coordinate events to promote campus involvement as part of the student-run Month of Kindness.

Starting Wednesday, University groups will sponsor more than a dozen activities, such as a 5K Run for Research, a Stop the Hate campaign and a sleepover on the Washington Avenue Bridge, among other events.

“I want students to get excited about this,” said Fernando, a Students Today, Leaders Forever member and coordinator of the month’s activities.

The goal of the month is to “be kind” and “pass it on.” But Fernando said she wants students to continue acts of kindness well beyond this month.

The purpose of the month of activities is also to promote collaboration among student groups, Fernando said.

“We want to build bridges among student groups Ö It’s about teaming up and doing something extremely well,” she said.

The Stop the Hate campaign, which runs from March 21-25, was initiated in response to a number of hate crimes on campus, particularly in residence halls.

“It’s really a shame Ö That’s where they live, and you shouldn’t have to live in fear,” said junior Christie Berkseth, a campaign coordinator and Interfaith Student Partnership member.

Members of the partnership will be handing out buttons and fliers. They will educate students about acts of intolerance and violence because of religion, race and sexual orientation.

Unlike last year’s Month of Kindness, which took place in November, student organizers chose March as a way to introduce students to a few University-sponsored spring break trips, they said.

Members from Habitat for Humanity, Students for Camp Heartland and a variety of religious groups will provide information about community service projects happening during spring break.

Other events include a Show for Life talent show, a charity date auction and the male beauty pageant, Mr. Superblock.

The idea is to engage students, especially first-year students, in the University, Fernando said.

“There are so many resources and opportunities on campus that current students don’t know about,” Fernando said.

Proceeds from the 5K Run for Research, which is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts Student Board and Students Today, Leaders Forever, already include nearly $1,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, said sophomore Kate Gustafson, an event organizer.

Proceeds from many of the events will also go to UNICEF and its Tsunami Water and Sanitation Fund.

The kickoff event, scheduled for Wednesday at Coffman Union, will include speaker Wendy Kopp, Teach for America founder and president.