Knock Knock. Who’s there? Sixty. Sixty who? Sixty-Nine Dude! Just kidding. The ‘60s weren’t just about Woodstock, the Manson family, and Vietnam protests. In fact, the 1960s was a remarkable era wrought with change that passionate people united to effect.
The Civil Rights and Feminist Movements, formation of the New Left, and popularization of art like Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup image, were all integral to the definition of this intensely idealistic era.
McDaniel College, then Western Maryland, was no different as it housed passionate students who felt they could make a change through community service.
These students were searching for authentic experiences that they had not yet encountered in their lives so far. Among these youth was a former McDaniel College student, Pamela Zappardino, who in an interview with Naomi Raphael, the Director for Community and Outreach Service, revealed how enthusiastic and dedicated the McDaniel students of the ‘60s were about meaningful community service projects.
Zappardino and other students approached professors Ira Zepp and Earl Griswold to be advisors for a soon-to-be community service organization that actually got something accomplished.
“It was a time in the country when things were changing…students felt they could have impacts globally and locally,” said Zappardino.
The students and advisors were able to create two community service organizations that McDaniel had during the 1960s: S.O.S and Hinge. Student Opportunity Service (S.O.S) resembled a homegrown Peace Corps where students picked a location outside the local community and worked with members of that community. This involved organizing a project to then spend the school year gathering funds and supplies for.
Then over the summer, some of the participating members assisted with the project on location. Appalachia, Oklahoma, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Mississippi were just some locations that the motivated S.O.S students went to create positive changes.
“S.O.S. was something…that changed people’s outlooks…they got a different perspective…when [they] actually work[ed] with people,” reflected Zappardino.
Hinge was designed for those who wanted to create ties to the local community through one-on-one mentoring and tutoring local children, mainly minority kids from Union and Charles Streets. This active involvement and witnessing of change demonstrated the effect one person can directly have on another.
Along with reaching out and bonding with communities, the students who participated in S.O.S. or Hinge were also the leaders in change on McDaniel’s campus. They helped to abolish unfair curfews and in making ROTC not mandatory. This activism came from the feeling that the students not only had the opportunity to change their own community, but the responsibility to do so, given the advantage of being a part of this campus.
Today on campus we see hundreds of clubs with dwindling members, doing little more than meeting weekly to discuss possible projects. While some of these plans are put into action, the lasting impact tends to be minimal and rarely stimulates interest past the completion of the project.
Student’s attention spans just don’t last past the free milk and cookies. We, as a campus, should look to the example of McDaniel in the ‘60s to gain inspiration for a passion of our own in the apathetic 21st century, just as Zappardino advises:
“Students today need to find their own brand of activism. Students can have a voice.”