Saving the world

Pro life activism

Southeastern Students for Life host a “Cemetery of Innocence,” made of flags which represent the number of abortions carried out each day. This campus organization is made up of dedicated pro-life activists. The Lion’s Roar / Sara Stanley

 

Perhaps you cry every time you see a commercial about cancer patients. Maybe reading stories about abusive parents makes your blood boil. Maybe you lie awake at night worrying about starving children in destitute countries. There is a lot of pain and suffering in the world, and there are a lot of problems that need to be solved. 

Fortunately, there are resources available for students who want to make a difference. California resident Cory Dyer is the president of a multi-million dollar company called Quiet Creek Capital Management. He also serves on the Board of Directors for City Heights Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that assists low-income individuals in finding affordable housing. Dyer has achieved all of this at the age of 25, and he is a firm believer in the power of students to improve the world around them. 

suicide awareness

Students read personal messages during a Suicide Awareness Day event. Several student organizations collaborated to hold the event, show the power students have to spread awareness of important issues. The Lion’s Roar / File Photo

“A lot of people don’t realize how much power they have as individuals,” said Dyer. “You don’t need to have a big group or a bunch of funds or a huge staff in order to do good. If you want to do something, just go out and do it today. A lot of people spend too much time planning, thinking. It ties them down.” 

Dyer’s altruistic pursuits began in college. His experiences volunteering and working for nonprofits opened his eyes to the problems many people face when attempting to start a service project. Dyer found that many nonprofits and service organizations have trouble with maintaining efficiency in distributing resources and fundraising. Sometimes students find difficulty from something as simple as an ill-defined goal. 

“Students need a cause that they’re very passionate about,” said Dyer. “It should be very specific, such as renovating the community park or wanting to run a soup kitchen for the homeless. Avoid something too general, [such as] ‘We want to improve the community as a whole.’”

Amy Edwards is a sociology graduate student who was involved in various student activist groups on campus throughout her time as a student. Edwards found that a major obstacle in advocating a cause is a closed-minded individual who will not be swayed by facts. 

“I find that not only ignorance but also the sense that someone knows better than me, that they are not willing to listen or to change, has always been the biggest issue,” said Edwards. “If someone thinks that they know everything, have all the answers and can solve all their own problems, then I can’t help them [or] teach them anything.”

Though many run into obstacles when supporting a cause, there are resources student activists can benefit from. Individuals who neglect to do their research often overlook these resources. 

“Someone could start a student organization, go through the amazingly bureaucratic and endless stream of paperwork to get anything approved and hold an event,” said Edwards. “They could apply for an SGA grant but they would have to do their own research in regards to when to apply. The resources available are not made obvious. The processes involved with actually getting something accomplished are sometimes frustratingly tedious and confusing.”

As with many things in life practice makes perfect. After holding a few events and service projects on campus, students can become adept at utilizing resources.

“Once you’ve been doing it for a semester or two, once you’ve hosted a few events and been through the wringer of paperwork, it gets easier, if only for the sheer fact that you know what to do and where to go to get signatures,” said Edwards.

Students who persist through the barriers of bureaucracy can become a powerful voice for the oppressed and the downtrodden. Students who are interested in starting a student organization may contact the Office of Student Engagement for more information. 

“Have passion in everything you do,” said Dyer. “If you’re not passionate about it, find something that you are passionate about, and your life will benefit from it.”