Individual Strength, Collective Power

03-13-2015

It’s been a hectic spring break on the road for this university president. I’ve been visiting western states in support of our capital campaign, meeting alumni and, finally, pausing in Chicago for the Big Ten basketball tournament before heading home.

It’s been no day at the beach either for a lot of Michigan State students and faculty members—the hundreds of Spartans devoting their week to community service through Alternative Spartan Breaks projects across the United States. Their efforts are all the more commendable because their service is clearly joyfully given, reflecting well on Spartans everywhere.

Photograph of a row of volunteers jumping in the air.
Alternative Student Breakers working in New Orleans.

I’ve been able to keep up with our alternative spring breakers through their tweets, photos and posts on MSUToday’s “Spring Break for Change” online feature. It’s truly wonderful how the Spartan ethos of service is being demonstrated from New York City to New Orleans to Scio, Oregon.

Photograph of a group of volunteers carrying black trash bags through a crosswalk.
Alternative Student Breakers working in New York City.

It has been especially welcome to read these updates given the recent troubling and continuing news emerging from college campuses and from communities around the country reminding us that how we treat one another matters deeply.

Photograph of a large group of students standing together and holding pick axes, rakes, and other outdoor tools.
Alternative Student Breakers working in Tennessee.

It’s my ardent hope that the caring and dignity shown by the students sharing their time and talent during Alternative Spartan Breaks continues to be modeled by all of us throughout the MSU community in these final weeks of spring term, weeks during which exuberance can occasionally turn into something far less benign.

So welcome back to campus, students. And to all in the MSU community, let’s keep firmly focused not only on what we do here at Michigan State, but on how and why we do it. Because we know that the way we show our concern for the welfare of others—including fellow Spartans—turns our individual strength into collective power.

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