University of Rochester

Students Promote 'Be the Change Day' through Action, Reflection

September 29, 2005

University of Rochester students, in partnership with four local agencies and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, are planning to spend a day of service and reflection in an effort to commemorate the ideals of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the world leader known for his nonviolent approaches to resolving serious social problems.

Be the Change Day, formerly the National Gandhi Day of Service, will be held Saturday, Oct. 1. Organized by student representatives from throughout the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, the day is part of a nationwide effort to spur awareness of the Indian humanitarian and his non-violent activism and engage students in community-based activities.

"Gandhi said, 'You must become the change you wish to see in the world,' " said College Dean of Students Jody Asbury. "It is our goal, in sponsoring programs like these, to connect our students to the community and encourage them to become change agents themselves. Around campus we say it is about giving where you live."

Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance at the Common Connection, formerly the Wilson Commons Information Center, but may sign up the morning of the service day if space remains. On Oct. 1, registration will begin at noon in the Havens Lounge of Wilson Commons. Participants will learn their assigned sites and hear from group representatives and community members as they prepare for a day in the community.

Approximately 100 volunteers will be working at various sites, including the Salvation Army, Cobblestone School, 19th Ward Community Association, and the NET (Neighborhood Empowerment Team) office on Genesee Street from approximately 1 to 4 p.m. Transportation will be provided.

A traditional Indian buffet dinner will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. in Douglass Dining Center. Hanif Abdul-Wahid, community liaison to Neighborhood Initiatives for the Monroe County Department of Planning and Development, will speak on the responsibilities of community leaders and accomplishments of local and national efforts.

A 1995 graduate of Leadership Rochester, Abdul-Wahid is a co-founder and member of the young adult outreach program R.A.I.N., board member of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, and commissioner of the Rochester/Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission. For his work, Abdul-Wahid has received the Loftus C. Carson Humanitarian Award and the Community Activist Award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Greater Rochester Commission.

Tickets for the dinner are $9, available at the Common Market in Wilson Commons. All proceeds from the dinner will go to the College's Hurricane Relief Fund for the American Red Cross.

The first Gandhi Day of Service took place in October 1997 at the University of Michigan. The University of Rochester first participated in 1999. Last year, more than 200 colleges and universities were involved. In 2005, the name of National Gandhi Day of Service was changed to Be the Change for universal appeal and to reflect the widely recognized message of Gandhi's life: Be the Change that you wish to see in the world.

Be the Change Day is sponsored by ADITI (Association for the Development of Interest of the Indian Subcontinent), Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity, Charles Drew Pre-Health Society, the Interfaith Chapel, and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership. For more information, contact the Common Connection at (585) 275-5911.