With all of our criticisms and grievances we dole out each week to various student groups and university offices, you’d think that we find Case Western Reserve University to be in permanent “fixer-upper” status. Indeed, we believe the opposite and want to take just a moment to truly appreciate how lucky we are on the campus. We sincerely appreciate that CWRU students can gather together in such a growing, dynamic city as Cleveland and work together and share ideas with each other at a world-renowned university. Only one percent of the world’s population will obtain a college education and as CWRU students, we’re the recipients of a multi-faceted, cutting-edge education.
So instead of worrying about the small complications of day-to-day life on campus (which is far too easy to do), we wanted to look at the bigger picture. As of 2009, 13.5 percent of Ohioans were living in poverty, the 22nd highest rate of poverty in the nation (Mississippi was first, with 20.6 percent of its citizens living in poverty). In Cuyahoga County this year, 160,000 households are on some form of public assistance and that number continues to grow by approximately 1000 each year. 20 percent of Cuyahoga County residents are on food stamps and four out of 10 children in the county are on government-subsidized healthcare. We can argue all we want about the merit of various political schemes to solve poverty or revoke public assistances, but the numbers simply stand to tell us that citizens of our own country, our own state, and our own county are struggling – and badly.
That’s why, this week, we chose to send all of our praise to the students, faculty, and staff who endlessly think of the Cleveland community before anything else. We’re extremely proud of the thousands of hours of service done by students and staff alike, whether they’re participating in programs like the recent Case for Community Day, 365 Days of Service, Case SERVES, or countless student organizations dedicated to serving others in our community. In addition to these returning programs, we also commend president Snyder’s and the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning’s new Civic Engagement Fellows Program as well as their extended commitment to service-based learning opportunities and a dedicated effort to create a culture change on campus where community service is concerned. Although these individuals and groups don’t serve just to receive recognition, we feel that they deserve a standing ovation for the work that they do and the incredible contributions they make to the Cleveland community.
It’s easy as students at a tough university to become far too bogged down and worried about our own personal lives and problems. It’s easy to get worked up about organic chemistry or student group budgets or not having time to catch up on Glee. But when there are kids just five minutes away from this campus who are worried about if they’ll have dinner tonight, our problems feel pretty insignificant. As Dumbledore pointed out, there will come a time when we have to choose between what is right and what is easy. We’re proud of the huge numbers of CWRU community members who have taken time to stand up for what’s right and in the future, we hope to see even more students rejecting what seems easy and doing what’s right for our community.