Making a difference: One Residence Hall at a Time

Class making a difference

Photo courtesy of My Fox Tampa Bay

It is a commonality among college students that we do not pay attention to the latest news. Our current event knowledge is normally targeted around which stars are dating, and who is breaking up. We typically don’t pay attention to the economic crisis, healthcare plan, politics, or any other matter as much as we should. Last Tuesday, Fox 13 broadcasted footage of our class for a segment they were doing on the school supplies drive.  The story was wonderful, and they did a great job covering it, but unfortunately, not many students I know watched it. Today, we also had the privilege of being interviewed by a local radio station downtown. Although the host put together an amazing piece on the drive, I know that many of my peers will not tune in because it is talk radio. If students aren’t attracted by common media sources such as the news and radio, what can we do to engage them? My solution: Give them a hands-on way they can make a difference.

Currently, I work as a Community Manager in the Greek Village at USF, a role similar to a Resident Assistant in other residence halls. Naturally, Greek students work very hard to make a difference in their communities, and are always willing to help out a cause. Greek organizations are typically very structured and ran in an orderly manner, allowing information to be passed down quickly. Many fraternities and sororities also have large numbers of members, therefore allowing them to target large groups of people and utilize a great deal of resources. As a result of this, whenever they are given word of a cause that needs help, they put a lot of support and force behind it, pushing it towards success. Currently in the Greek Village, 14 national fraternities and sororities are housed. Of these, 8 are Panhellenic sororities, and 6 are fraternities. Greeks at USF have a history of being very philanthropic and are always looking for new ways to give back to the community.

The Greek Village at USF

As a Community Manager, I have the opportunity to host programs and engage the entire community in projects. This semester, we have decided to make the school supplies drive one of our main focuses. Each house will be given a box that they are asked to fill with everything from pens and pencils, to slightly used backpacks. Although most houses have anywhere from 20-30 students living in them, chapter sizes range from 40-100! This being said, we have the capability of having over 1,000 people donate in this drive. There is no minimum or maximum amount of supplies asked for, we just simply ask students to go through their desk drawers and donate anything they aren’t using. As one box is filled, another box will be given to the Community Manager of that house for filling. For the organization that collects the most stuff, the Greek Village Community Managers will throw a pizza party for them.

Sarai, a classmate of mine, and I are working diligently to contact other housing communities on campus to get them involved with the project! Our ideas are to go around once a month in the residence halls and collect any supplies they have, as well as attend large functions their RA’s put on. The more we put our faces out there, the more likely we are to collect supplies! We know our goal is only 30 boxes, but we plan to exceed this. As USF Bulls, we are prepared to succeed, and succeed we will.

Students who live on campus are statistically more engaged with the community, and therefore we feel that it is imperative to reach out to this population. Although it is common for college students to not pay attention to the news, it’s hard to miss something that is put right in front of you. By allowing these students to directly engage with our project, it is more likely they will pay attention and help out. Both Greek, and non-Greek students at USF are very philanthropic and want to make a difference, but don’t know how. By providing them with an opportunity to do so, we are answering for them the same question I had earlier in the semester: How can I make a difference?

If you want to make a difference, click here:  School Supplies for Afghan Children.

To see the wonderful Fox 13 News story, click here: Tampa Bay Fox News .

About Kati Fratesi

My name is Kati Fratesi and I am a senior at the University of South Florida, majoring in Psychology and focusing on leadership studies. I am an active member of many campus organizations, including Delta Gamma Fraternity, Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement Leadfellows and the National Society for Leadership and Success.
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