Whenever some injustice happens in the world today, we as college students are expected to show our support for the "good guys" through myriad gestures that, in my experience, do little to nothing to solve the problem.
Case in point: On Sept. 20, many wore black or green on behalf of the wrongfully imprisoned "Jena 6." While I support the need to respond to such improprieties, and am entirely for the free expression of one's feelings, I pose the following question: What, in your mind, did wearing black and green accomplish? What does sitting around in your dorm talking about all the bad things in the world get done? What does creating a Facebook group deriding the genocide in Darfur, assailing the captors of the Jena 6 or showing solidarity in the face of Hurricane Katrina actually do?
Generally, the answer is nothing. None of these measures even accomplish the most rudimentary goal: to raise awareness. Certainly everyone I've asked has heard of the Jena 6, Hurricane Katrina and the genocide long before such groups were created. Further, it may detract from the "social guilt" which leads people to action in the first place: I've joined my group, I've done my part!
So, what is a useful and viable alternative to these useless shows of support and solidarity? In the case of racial injustice, such as the Jena 6, the issue deals with legal questions. Therefore, write to the judge, to the people of Jena or to the governor of Louisiana. Oddly enough, letters get a response.
For Darfur? Give what you have: money, food and time. The Red Cross is always accepting donations, as is Doctors Without Borders, a French-based medical service in Africa. Indeed, letters to Congress and the president wouldn't go amiss here; perhaps our military might serve better in Sudan than in Iraq.
Katrina victims, and all victims of natural disasters, need the same as victims of social disasters: Give them time, money, food and blood. These are the things they need and they will be far better received than wearing a different colored shirt on auspicious occasions.
Get up! Get out! We are college students - the next generation. In a few years the world will be our own and no longer will we be able to sit safe in our rooms and debate the doctrines of genocide, flood relief, war, poverty, pestilence and famine. Instead we will be cruelly forced to think on our feet and do what we must. Give of yourself and make the world a better place to inherit. It will thank us.