Many people would agree that coming into your freshman year of college can be terrifying. New students often do not know too many people or what to expect, and sometimes it is comforting to be reassured that everything will get easier.
“I personally did not have the greatest year freshman year,” said NichloasVayda, president of the University of Rhode Island’s Random Acts of Kindness club (RAK). “It was rough getting used to everything.”
Like a lot of other freshman he found himself with extra time on his hands, but was not sure what to do with it. After looking around he decided that the RAK club could be a good fit for him. Vayda now leads the club in living up to their name by performing random acts of kindness in an attempt to lighten students’ days and make them feel welcomed.
“If we can make one person smile, if we can make one person a bit happier, if we can make just one person laugh on their way to class then mission accomplished,” Vayda said.
The club likes to put more effort into what they do during notoriously stressful times, such as midterms and finals weeks. During such periods the club members can be found posting sticky notes with a compliment on the door of every dorm, or making and hanging inspirational posters around campus.
Students who transfer schools, like Jacquie Lyman who came to URI from the Community College of Rhode Island, can also feel the same anxiety that new students feel. She was apprehensive about getting her feet wet and meeting new people before she joined RAK.
“I was a little bit nervous to join clubs, Nick and everyone from the club at the first meeting were really friendly and welcoming,” Lyman said. “It’s a really good environment.”
Walking into one of the RAK club meetings you can expect to find everyone gathered trying to come up with ways to bring happiness and joy to campus. Very quickly the floor is opened for anyone to help decide and plan what the group should do moving forward.
“It’s not just Nick being the leader telling us what to do,” Lyman said, “it’s everyone as a group collaborating, deciding what’s the best way to express our message.”
Although they do their best, the club sometimes finds that their message isn’t always as well received as they would like.
“I asked this girl if she wanted free candy,” Vayda said. “I’m wearing my random acts of kindness t-shirt and I said, ‘I’m from the group random acts of kindness,’ and I swear to god she thought I put date rape drugs in the candy. She pulled out her phone, called a friend and walked away.”
Club members agree that the responses to their kindness is different depending on who is doing the act. Club member Stephanie Peramus remembered another situation in one of the dorms when she was posting stick notes on peoples doors.
“I know some guys must have thought it was some new way of flirting, but I really was just being nice,” she said.
Past acts of kindness have included standards such as free hugs and “reverse trick-or-treating”.
The club meets at 5 p.m., Tuesdays in the Memorial Union, room 318.