The members of the Student Assembly (S.A.) took a break from their usual business of debating and passing resolutions to join over 200 volunteers at the fourth annual Ride for Life around Cayuga Lake on Saturday.
The Ride for Life is a fundraiser for AIDS WORK of Tompkins County, an organization supporting AIDS education and outreach programs. The S.A.’s participation in the Ride for Life is part of a larger effort by the S.A. to become more involved in volunteer activities at Cornell and in the City of Ithaca.
Over 150 participants were sponsored to ride either 50, 100, or 120 miles around Cayuga Lake, and the event is expected to raise more than $90,000. The fundraiser generated over $85,000 last year. The ride began and ended at Stewart Park in Ithaca.
Chris Hein ’03, chair of the Cornell Collegiate Council of the March of Dimes and a member of the staff at the Public Service Center on campus, helped the S.A. design its program to reach out to the community.
“We’ve been looking for a while to fix the perceived apathy on the Cornell campus. This is a way to get more students involved,” said Hein.
On Saturday, the volunteers from the S.A. were stationed at or around the 50-mile marker at the Seneca Falls Community Center, where bikers could stop for refreshments and rest, according to Howell.
“This was the main lunch stop. We helped prepare the food and serve it and just kind of hung out with the bikers,” said Katie Howell ’04, the Assembly’s vice president for public relations.
In place of one meeting every month, the S.A. will instead volunteer with a local organization or at a special event.
Members decided at their first official meeting on Sept. 5 that they will hold a vote the week before the planned community service event to decide if they should hold a meeting the week of the event or not. That way, if there is a pressing issue before the Assembly, it will not have to be put off until the next week.
Next month, the S.A. will volunteer at the Ithaca Harvest Festival, and in November, at the Cayuga Medical Center.
“This is a way to give back to our community. We want to lead by example,” said Howell, who introduced the resolution to institute the program.
Hein hopes that the S.A. will be able to “lead by example” and hopes it encourages other groups to volunteer through the Public Service Center.
“The S.A. is the student government and that is what they should be working on, but people on campus aren’t really sure what they do,” said Hein. “If people see them out there, then that brings them publicity, and it kind of brings service to the forefront of the minds of Cornell students.”
The S.A. also wants other organizations at Cornell to become involved, and plans to invite different groups along on future outings.
“For this first one, we wanted to see how it went. Hopefully, next time we’ll be able to bring other organizations along,” said Howell.
Deena Ruebusch ’04, a student representative on the University Assembly, volunteered with the S.A. at their first event.
“It wasn’t a meeting situation. There was a definite feeling of camaraderie,” said Ruebusch.
“It was a nice way for us to build teamwork,” said Howell. She added, “It was nice to get to know everyone outside of the normal Student Assembly setting.”
Ruebusch, who spent the day directing bikers along their route around the lake, said she plans to take part in more volunteer programs with the S.A. in the future and offered her view on how the new initiative will affect the Assembly.
“It will be interesting to see if that feeling of camaraderie will carry over into the meetings that they have on Thursdays,” Ruebusch said.
Archived article by Mackenzie Damon