On Thursday, September 12, students, faculty and staff, set aside their normal schedules to take part in Campus Day. A Hiram College tradition stretching back to 1921, Campus Day gives everyone the opportunity to take part in community service projects across the campus and throughout the surrounding community.
Colin Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy and director of Hiram Connect, kicked of the day’s events with an opening speech in Hayden Auditorium.
“You might wonder why we are asking you to take the day to participate in service projects,” Anderson said to the crowd of mostly first-year students. He went on to explain how growing evidence suggests that citizens who are involved in their communities are happier and healthier. He discussed the ways that partaking in acts of service can teach students new things about themselves and the communities they are a part of.
Student Senate President Alex Andrzejewski ’21 also addressed the group of students before they set off on their service projects.
“Change starts with one step, one person, one act of service,” Andrzejewski said.
After the opening remarks, students rolled up their sleeves and set off to tackle various service projects.
First-year students were grouped with their classmates and professors of their First Year Enduring Questions courses, while upperclassmen volunteered alongside athletic teams and clubs.
Some groups worked on campus; for example, members of the swim team pulled weeds in the Oliver Plaza to help with campus beautification. Other on-campus groups made fleece blankets to donate to families affected by natural disasters, crafted dog toys from old t-shirts to donate to animal shelters, and more.
Matt Mitchell ’20, a course assistant for one of the first-year classes, joined his students in picking apples at Hiram College’s James H. Barrow Biological Field Station. For most of the first-year students, this was their first visit to the Field Station.
“Campus Day is a great opportunity to get students together and visit new places around campus that they might not be familiar with,” Mitchell said. “Not only are they building a relationship with each other, but also with their environment.”
Volunteer groups also dedicated their time to organizations off-campus. Students worked alongside farmers at the Hiram Farm, a nearby non-profit dedicated to providing meaningful employment to adults with disabilities, and spent time with residents at The Inn at the Pines, an assisted living facility for seniors. Other groups donated their time and services to the Hiram First Christian Church, Hattie Larlham, Little Village, Maggies Donuts, and Kent Social Services.
As the morning service projects reached completion, students took a break for lunch and reflection. Then they gathered on the campus green for the annual Ethics Teach-In, an event dedicated to engaging students in meaningful conversations.
This year’s Teach-In addressed topics relating to inequality. In order to keep discussions small and accessible, the forum was split into seventeen subtopics, each led by a different professor.
Michelle Nario-Redmond, Ph.D., professor of psychology, led a discussion on how to confront the inequalities of ableism, disability prejudice.
“We started by reading a poem to help us understand what ableism is, and then we discussed what it means to be a good ally for others and a good advocate for yourself,” Nario-Redmond said.
Discussions also considered inequalities in other countries and encouraged students to explore new perspectives. A talk titled “High Heels and Sumo Rings: Gender Inequality in Japan and the U.S.” was led by Erin Lamb, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical humanities and director of the Center for Literature and Medicine, and Kirsten Parkinson, Ph.D., professor of English and director of the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature.
Katherine Starr ’23 attended both the discussion on ableism and the discussion on gender inequalities.
“Both discussions reminded me to keep my eyes open,” Starr said.
Imani Haskins ’23 also attended two discussions and noted that having these conversations outside the classroom was a nice change of pace.
Campus Day, with its dedication to service and reflection, is a perfect example of Hiram College’s well-rounded curriculum. Among its many goals, Hiram strives to instill the importance of lifelong learning and community engagement in its students.
by Alexia Kemerling