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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Ponder This: Who Benefits From My New Year’s Resolutions?

<nuary, 2009 and the start of a new year. It makes sense that many people are still working hard their keep their New Years Resolutions, whether it be staying in better shape or being nicer to that girl who pisses you off all the time. I can honestly say that I really didn't make any solid resolutions. I suppose I don't really see the point since I just end up breaking them and feeling sorry for myself. Call me a quitter if you'd like, but conforming to this whole resolutions kick never really interested me-- until I came back to Carleton after break that is. Upon my return to this glorious campus, I realized that I did not have to make resolutions prohibiting me from doing certain things, rather, I could promise myself that I would prohibit myself from not doing more things! I immediately decided to become a more well-rounded student. I signed up for piano lessons, got a radio show time slot ( at 4:30 am…), and so on and so forth. I was feeling pretty good about myself. I mean, here I am, not having to give up anything, yet still able to have a sense of accomplishment concerning the New Year.

Everything was going fine and dandy until I went to Sayles for lunch one day ( had to get another one of those delicious sandwiches that everyone wants but are unable to pronounce the name of). I was casually making my way to a table to enjoy my meal when I noticed an interest group with a table set up. They were taking pictures and writing on a white board. Being the nosy person that I am, I wandered over.

“Hey there!” exclaimed a chipper young woman clearly involved in whatever cause this table was set up for. “Would you be interested in taking a picture holding up this white board saying how much you spent on books this term? We are working to lower the cost of textbooks and these pictures we take will be sent to publishing companies to show them that students are no longer willing or able to pay for such expensive textbooks.” How could I say no? This totally applied to me– I had spent well over $200 on books, which is actually considered a small amount by many people. My roommate was with me, and, having paid a whopping $400 + for her books, was all for taking a picture. After we took the pictures, the same lady asked us if we would be interested in learning more about their group called MPIRG. She briefly explained that their title stands for Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, and that they are a grassroots, non-partisan, nonprofit student-directed organization that works together and works to engage the community in collective action. I was very impressed. This sounded like such a great thing, and if I were to join this, I would be doing something that actually benefited not only me for once. I ended up attending their informational meeting, and after listening to the various members of the group speak and after seeing how much passion these great people put towards what they believe in, I was honestly quite moved. I agreed to join the group, and was immediately assigned to a task force: Affordable Housing and Homelessness. We discussed various issues concerning this topic and then brainstormed ways in which to get the community interested in working to improve conditions for the homeless. Although we came up with tons of great ideas, I will not reveal them to you right now. But what I can do is provide you with some information that may shock you: each night, approximately 21,000 Minnesotans are homeless or precariously housed. If that’s not devastating enough, 50% of that number are children or unaccompanied youth. 50%! Unbelievable, isn’t it? Here we are, fortunate college students attending a prestigious, private institution. We are given food whenever we want it, we don’t have to think twice about shelter ( unless your roommate sexiles you), and we have all the resources we need to lead healthy lives right at our fingertips. My goal in relaying this information to you is not to make you feel guilty at all. Rather, I hope to inspire you to take action. MPIRG and other various Carleton interest groups are going to be working together to raise awareness about this crisis and many others. What can you do? Listen. Learn. Be open-minded to the idea of helping out. Make donations. Volunteer. Research. Anything you can do helps, even if it small. Basically, what I am trying to say is that, although I was feeling pretty darn good about myself after joining so many activities, MPIRG really opened my mind up and made me realize that working to better otherpeoples’ lives instead of just my own is certainly the most fulfilling thing I have attempted to do yet. I ask you to ponder this…

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