Lost and forgotten student organizations

Dieter Hunyerager

The wellness committee has been a source of mild pleasure for me throughout my Lawrence career. Like an old, forgetful friend, I know I can always count on the informational newsletters posted by the committee of wellness to repeat the same facts they’ve been posting since freshman year. I can’t imagine any Lawrentian who hasn’t been aware since eighth grade that drunk people are more likely to have unprotected sex but shouldn’t, and that keeping warm and regular hand-washing is an optimal way to prevent catching a cold.
That is precisely what fascinates me about the wellness committee. Clearly, there is a group of students dedicated enough to writing these newsletters every month, and not only that, but printing and taping them on the insides of bathroom stalls across campus. Is there a feeling of reward associated with writing 300 words about how regular soap is safer than antibacterial soap or trying to present, as new, the fact that marijuana can impair short-term memory?
My reflection on the matter of possibly superfluous campus organizations was prompted by the onslaught of printed and handwritten February calendars outlining a random act of kindness one can perform each day. Some of the suggestions, such as taping an inspirational or motivational quote to the inside of a bathroom stall and calling one’s single friends on Valentine’s Day to condescendingly cheer them up, may have more of a depressing effect than intended, but one can’t deny the positivity of such a campaign.
However, there are two calendar entries that completely baffle me. On both the printed and most of the handwritten calendars are entries directing the kindness-actor to Web site links containing random strings of letters and numbers. Both links are perfectly usable, but I can’t imagine anybody taking the time to write down the pertinent information. I’m sure this fact must have occurred to some of the students involved in the program. Why didn’t they say anything? Does anyone actually do what the calendar tells them to do, and if so, would it really be accurate to call them random acts of kindness rather than mandated acts of superficial friendliness?
Perhaps my favorite Sisyphusian student organization is BACCHUS (Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students), which may or may not still exist. Their goal was/is to educate the student populace about alcohol abuse and prevent binge drinking. The fruitlessness of their attempts to undermine student drinking was exemplified by a survey they conducted a few years ago, which set out to prove that not nearly as many Lawrentians drink as is perceived.
The results were inherently biased, considering the type of person who would agree to take such a survey would probably be more willing to decry booze than the average student. Nonetheless, of those surveyed, 88 percent of students believed that their peers drank. However, roughly 67 percent of those surveyed drank at least once a week. Twenty percent is a pretty significant difference, but the original question pertained to how many students believed their peers drank, “peers” being a term that encompasses a much larger group than the singular student being asked about his/her own alcohol use.
Considering that the sole existence of BACCHUS was/is to prove to students that alcohol use isn’t prevalent in spite of popular perception, their campaign proved to be the most epic exercise in futility in the history of our proud institution. It may or may not exist anymore, but its legacy of being ignored by the general populace lives on in countless organizations across campus.