SLJC student organization spotlight #2: Case ARK (Acts of Random Kindness)

Jenna Millemaci, Assistant News Editor

Last Friday, October 12, from 12 to 2 p.m., an organized group of Case Western Reserve University students guerrilla-attacked the Kelvin Smith Library Oval. They invaded with a 1×150 foot roll of bubble wrap, 108 bags of homemade Play-doh, and 15 dozen donuts. By the end of those two hours, everything was gone. It all started without formal warning.

Case ARK is an official student organization that stands for “Acts of Random Kindness” established last spring. It has already been responsible for the flash mob of donuts and bubble wrap on the KSL Oval, the inspirational chalked phrases all over Case Quad last semester the night before the beginning of final exams, and a number of the happy-go-lucky people on the CWRU campus.

“The whole thing about this is the random part,” said second-year president Wade Stewart.

“The way we make it random is that we plan it out, but we don’t announce things until the day or time of the event,” he said. “We’re currently doing a continuous program to recognize others for doing good things.”

Stewart came up with the idea of starting a campus-wide organization with the main purpose of doing meaningful simple things for CWRU community members last semester while he was working for the Office of Admissions as a tour guide. Stewart, along with his friend and fellow tour guide Matt Holdren, lined one of the freshman dorms used for tours with leftover balloons from a spring open house.

“During tours, it’s one of the things you can say – we have 160 organizations on campus, but if there’s not something here that you are interested in, and you would like to have that on campus, you can start your own organization. All you have to do is this, this, and this…”

“[I thought], we have to start it immediately,” he said to Holdren, now the current vice president of Case ARK, last spring. “This is one of those things that you have to do now.”

Wade and Holdren have been spontaneous grass-roots givers from the very beginning.

Case ARK started with 14 members last semester – the bare minimum for a group to be called a campus organization, but they have grown to about 50 since then.

“I think what got our popularity was the Student Activities Fair [this year]. With all the incoming freshmen coming through, we did something a little out of the ordinary,” Stewart said. “You know how people give away food? We clapped for every single person who signed up for ours.”

Case ARK completed their first official group effort to make campus members smile at the closing of last semester. The organization came out the last night of reading days to chalk up the quad with inspirational quotes and humorous sayings, so that students looking down would know to keep looking up during the final stretch.

“Our first big success was definitely our first event that we had last year during finals,” Stewart said. “We bought a bunch of chalk, and chalked from about Mather Quad all the way to the main quad…and we just chalked everything from inspirational quotes to random sayings.”

“Everyone was really excited. You would think everyone would want to be studying for finals, but everyone was more than eager to come out… This is something we all enjoy,” he said.

Case ARK meets once per week every Friday at 5 p.m. in Nord 204. One can expect the unexpected during those academic slumps – flash mobs of donuts, bubble wrap, and Play-doh, at almost any time and place on campus.

“It’s not something that you have to be overly outgoing to do,” he said. “I would say that almost 90 percent of the organization is very optimistic people, and I guess that is kind of what brings us together… Our goal on campus is to just make people happy.”

Case ARK was identified as a new group full of leadership potential by the Student Leadership Journey Council, a group dedicated to spreading and promoting leadership throughout the CWRU campus.