A month after its official launch onto the Stony Brook University campus, the community pledge continues to percolate throughout the campus. According to Jeffery A. Barnett, assistant dean of students, by Thursday, April 1, 320 people have taken the pledge to promote an accepting and safer community, and the numbers are expected to increase.
Barnett hopes to branch out from the Sing for CommUNITY event that took place last month, and incorporate the community pledge into several campus events throughout the year, such as Stony Brook University’s annual Diversity Day and orientation.
“Plans have not been finalized for the upcoming year,” said Kate Patestas, an orientation leader, when asked about how it would be integrated into orientation.
As of now, word of the pledge is being spread by 35 pledge leaders that have been appoiinted by the Dean of Students suite. The coordinator of Diversity Day, Stephanie Patterson, a clinical assistant professor in the School of Health, Technology and Management, said that a volunteer spoke about the community pledge at the end of the diversity celebration.
“We would have made it a part of the program, because we’re all about it,” said Patterson, who described the community pledge as something she would encourage. “We will consider this an annual part of our diversity celebration.”
Denise DeGennaro, the volunteer at Diversity Day, explains, “I briefly gave background on the pledge and read it during the show. A laptop was set up so students could take the pledge right there.”
A glimpse of the pledge was witnessed on Jan. 30 during the New Student Welcome Ceremony. Incoming students read the Statement of Community at the welcoming ceremony every year, but Heather Robertson, director of student orientation and family programs, wanted to see students take a more active role and offered the Community Pledge as an opportunity.
“This is an action,” said Robertson. “We’re saying go out and stand up. Stand up for others and say civility and community are important to you.”
Eric Ascher, a senior resident assistant and previous victim of bullying, has taken on the task of spreading the word in his long time efforts to build a safe and loving community at Stony Brook University. Along with opening his arms for Free Hugs, giving compliments in Post-It form and raising item donations for charity, he passes out Community Pledge information cards to students in Cardozo College in Roth Quad. Ascher’s tabling event led to 25 more students signing up on Thursday night. He and members of the Growing Opportunities in Leadership Development program put together the Serenity Showcase last semester on Dec. 10 to incorporate the pledge.
Progress is being made quickly and volunteers will be hosting tabling events for the pledge every Wednesday and Friday.
The Orientation and Openings Committee, of which Robertson is a member, hopes to bring the pledge to students on a more personal level rather than at large events.
Pledge leaders will be trained to talk about the pledge with students on an individual basis and plans are still in the works to have more laptop stations for students to sign up.