NEWSSTAND

Student Petition Brings Music to Campus

Students at Emerson College in Boston successfully petitioned the school’s dining services division to permit staff to play music openly while preparing food for students in the dining hall. The campaign, called “Keep the Music Behind the Counter,” began in response to the decision by Dining Center General Manager Patrick Griffin to direct at least one dining services employee to stop playing music while on the job.

The petition drive, which began as an anonymous posting, drew campus-wide support shortly after its appearance on campus. Dozens of students at the small liberal arts college signed the resolution within days of its appearance, and the effort garnered praise from the editorial page of the student-run Berkeley Beacon, which called for fairer treatment of the college’s support staff. The Beacon reported that the petition attracted so much support that students resorted to squeezing their names onto the margins of the page to make their voices heard.

Administrators Take Notice

This grassroots effort soon drew the attention of General Manager Griffin, who reversed his decision shortly after becoming aware of the extent of student dissatisfaction. Griffin, who cited concerns of employee professionalism in his original decision, reversed course to satisfy student demand. “I believe that it’s your dining hall, it is your DC, whatever you want to make you happy,” Griffin told Emerson students, and the Beacon further reported that school employees seemed satisfied with the decision.

Grassroots Success Story: Seniors Speak Up

Each week, StandUnited features the story of a grassroots effort that is making a difference. This week’s success story comes from Bowdoinham, Maine, where a few committed volunteers greatly expanded opportunities for senior citizens.

Bowdoinham is home to 2,800 people, many of whom are retirees. These seniors enjoy the town’s charm and beautiful natural landscape. However, as people age, many encounter new challenges that keep them from cherished hobbies.

The community is governed by a Town Council, which noticed several years ago that the community could better serve its many seniors. The Town Council established an Advisory Committee on Aging.

Volunteers Step Up

Nine local seniors stepped up to volunteer on the Committee. The town brought in an active aging expert, Patricia Oh, to lead their efforts. Under her direction, Bowdoinham citizens brought their ideas and innovations to the committee. The Coastal Journal estimates that everyday people donated “hundreds of volunteer hours” to this project.

Small Changes, Big Difference

So, what did the committee accomplish? It made local buildings more accessible to seniors and those with mobility concerns. Volunteers even secured an AARP grant to build elevated gardening boxes. These boxes will allow seniors who cannot sit or kneel on the ground to still enjoy gardening, a favorite shared pastime among the community. Even the local library adapted its collection to better serve an aging population. Bowdoinham locals can now check out gardening shears from the library, just like books!

The Committee now hosts a “Coffee Cafe” where seniors can socialize, as well as golf outings and bridge and cribbage events. Two volunteers even put on a very popular collage workshop. All of these steps bring the community closer together, all with the help of everyday citizens who choose to make a difference.

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