With more than hundreds of social issues plaguing the world each day, students have found organizations on campus to support the causes they care about.
The University of South Dakota offers a wide variety of organizations for students to become apart of and have the opportunity give back in any way they can.
Sophomore Dennis Smith, founder of Lost and Found at USD, said he is very passionate about what he does.
“I could choose to be involved in everything possible and be ‘that guy,’ but I think everyone involved on campus is in their organization specifically because they’re passionate about it,” Smith said.
Smith said it can be something specific whether that is autism, curing children’s cancer or suicide prevention.
“People get involved with those sort of activities because they either have first hand experience with that or have seen a friend or family member go through something involving what they’re involved with,” Smith said.
Smith said he is involved in the organizations he is because of personal experience.
“I have a cousin who has autism, I know multiple people who have attempted or committed suicide and I have had friends with cancer,” Smith said. “All three have affected me and that’s why I get involved with certain things like I do. It all stems down to being affected by it.”
This is evident when at presentations and speakers that deal with social issues, Smith said.
“When the speaker says ‘raise your hand if you know someone who has or has been affected by suicide or depression’ or if they say cancer or anything,” Smith said. “Every hand in the room goes up and I have yet to see something like that where not every hand in the room has shot up because they are huge issues.”
Sophomore Kassie Hoiland, who is coordinator for Amnesty International, said involvement in groups that fight for others is important.
“If we don’t fight for them nobody else is going to,” Hoiland said. “With the death penalty and petitions we sign, for people such as Troy Davis, to get them off death row. There are not many people that fight for that.”
Hoiland said her involvement in Amnesty International provides a feeling of satisfaction.
“I like seeing the impact we can have on other people’s lives,” Hoiland said. “We have it so good and some people don’t. Just seeing how happy you can make other people makes you feel good.”
An active member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Smith said he contributes a lot of his social awareness to his participation in Greek life.
“I know it has this negative stigma but besides Lost and Found, I have participated in more philanthropy events with Greek life than I have anything else,” Smith said.
Smith said everything the Greeks do in the community is raising social awareness.
“Delta Tau Delta fraternity recently did a philanthropy where all of the money raised went to Lost and Found,” Smith said. “It was awesome and shows how much Greek life does philanthropy events.”
Sophomore Sydney Hofer, who is also Strollers vice president, said the organization donates money to a new cause every year. This year it was the Children’s Miracle Network.
Hofer said it is important to her to be involved in a group that recognizes social issues.
“A group can donate more as a whole than a single person can and that’s great to be a part of,” Hofer said.
Hofer said supporting causes such as the Children’s Miracle Network is close to her personally.
“I always support causes like that because my family has had to use the Children’s Miracle Network in the past and I would like to give back to something that has helped my family,” Hofer said.
Smith said he does notice a lot of people involved in organizations that support social awareness.
“The only problem is you see those same people involved in every organization,” Smith said. “Which comes down to a student body problem or a student apathy problem.”
Smith said he thinks this year people have shown a lot more interest in the university than they have years past.
‘That’s something that will help with student philanthropy programs or social awareness groups because you need to get people excited about what they’re doing to get more people involved,” Smith said.
Hofer said college students should always be aware of the social problems happening around them and try to support organizations that aim to fix them.
“If you’re doing something now while you’re in college, you’ll continue to do it in the future,” Hofer said. “Supporting it now is training yourself to support it for the rest of your life.”
Hoiland said supporting social awareness is beneficial to college students.
“In college, most of our worlds are small and we only know what we live in,” Hoiland said. “We don’t know how bad other people have it and maybe if we did then we’d be more likely to do something about it.”
Reach reporter Payton Randle at Payton.Randle.edu.