Forty years of one solid organization on a campus is certainly a wonderful thing for any alum or current student to take pride in. As a guest to a former writer, I had the privilege of attending this magnificent evening.
However, as with all student organizations on campus, this event certainly had its own minor moments where things may have gone differently. Inadvertently implying that you were left with nothing to work with at the start of the year is not something to say to those who helped build the paper over the past thirty-nine years.
Also, putting a friendly message about how one in four people can only afford one meal a day in Detroit seems rather tacky and commercial in a room where most of these people are well aware of the plight that is occurring in Detroit. Yet, overall the one thing that stood out for me the most was the rather large number of people across the different generations that attended and how well received they were.
I had the pleasure of sitting with Robert Fox (an alum from 2000) and David Yesh (an alum from 1982) at the table. Though my friend Stef and I were rather quite shy at first, we started kindly talking to the two gentlemen who were keen to share their experiences with life and the paper.
Personally, I was saddened to hear that the concerns over the conduct of Student Government did not occur just within my six year tenure at this school, but go even as far back as the early nineteen eighties. Just listening to those stories made me feel better about my own shortcomings in other organizations, and proved that some problems are simply just too big to address.
Still, I wonder if such a night is rather more meaningful to others. Is being involved on campus really worth the hassle of breaking out of the monotony of going from class to class and then back home again?
The one thing from this evening made me wonder if anyone would remember the things that are done by students on this campus. Yes, awards are given, but even they don’t seem to carry the weight that awards ought to carry. Often, they are critiqued for having no notoriety for them. They are not advertised well by the Student Activities Office.
Perhaps, putting such advertisements on a website that no one looks at and sending emails to only a handful of student organizations apparently constitutes as notifying everyone in student life and all student employees that such awards are available for your recognition. Also, those who seem to give out awards find it increasingly difficult to justify why they should give them out.
This is why none of the major student organizations last year won an award as best major student organization–it was deemed that they did not go far enough to impact campus. You may even agree with that statement. Finally, those who have won the award seem to be scarcely remembered. Just asking someone the other night, they could not recall people like Rezarta Haxhillari, Tony Lin, or even as recent as Lauren Reed.
Sadly, such names just remain rather in a trophy case with little explanation for what they have done to deserve the awards that they have received. Even the awards won by organizations seem only useful in generating more members to that organization in the future.
Which leaves the question, why should it matter to try and improve campus? The work one puts in seems forgotten quickly by the students that follow it and the few reminders that are left have been so degraded by the people that seek to immortalize them. Maybe, the answer is solely in the event on Saturday. The 40th Anniversary may not have brought about the heaps of praises that were rightfully deserved, but perhaps just the event itself may suffice.
At least, one is recognized for their contributions with a gathering and a dinner with the gathering being the most important. Why? The gathering with one’s colleagues of your own era is the most important. For it is them, that if anything, you have had the opportunity to make their lives that much more meaningful. That bond that you created from the mutual experiences and struggles is what leads you to have that ability to make change. The change may not be awardable by the standards of an arbitrary board, but are rather judged by the people with whom you come in contact with daily. If you are able to try and make someone’s day a little better, then certainly you have done enough to at least be remembered by that person.
In making others feel better, those who witness such things find it inspiring to create that similar culture. In doing so, you continue the legacy of providing enriching experiences not only to bring pride to yourself, but to promote the pride of future generations in their own accomplishments. Perhaps a proper student organization or even an individual may actually be remembered for winning a title that they so rightfully deserved by future generations. Until then, the only things that we in the University Center have are the chances to see the friends that we have made the biggest impact on; the anniversaries that we are given are the ways in which we can truly honor those who have brought the biggest impact to this campus.
In conclusion, I leave it up to you, the reader, to determine whether it is worth deviating from your commuter routine and engaging with the campus community. You may not receive or achieve the goals you wish to set up, but hopefully the process by which you sought such changes can at least leave you feeling proud and maybe, you can at least influence someone’s life in a positive manner. That way, maybe at the next anniversary someone might say this about you:
“This night rightfully could not have happened with your presence. Without the same energy and determination that was put forth by every single one in this room, not only would you miss out on the wonderful times spent here at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, but also my staff and I would not have had the wonderful fortune of being together as well. This bond and these memories are the most important things that we cherish; the most important gift that we could have received from all of you tonight. On behalf of this current staff and me, once again, thank you all for everything that you have done to make our student experience and our lives that much more enriching.”
The views presented, unless otherwise noted, are of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Michigan Journal Editorial Board, the University of Michigan-Dearborn faculty or administration.