The night before midterms week, the Ithaca College library was filled with students studying and completing assignments. A group of students walked in, not with books or laptops, but with Post-it notes that read, “You deserve to have a good day,” “Love yourself” and “You’re awesome.” They hid the notes in books and shelves around the library.
Hiding notes around campus is just one of the activities the Random Acts of Kindness club does weekly. In the past, it has left Valentine’s Day cards with candy attached to them around different buildings on campus. The group has written letters to the residents at Longview, a senior living community, to cheer up the residents. The members of the group aim to craft a different activity every week.
Before heading to the library, the executive board and club members met to discuss their plan. Junior Christina DiLuzio, president of the club, explained their goal of the night was to write positive messages on notes to lift students’ spirits before midterms week. She also told the club not to tell anyone what they were doing in order to provide an element of surprise: The students and library staff didn’t expect the spontaneity of the event. DiLuzio said the group intentionally didn’t give advanced notice to library staff of what it was planning to do.
“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission,” DiLuzio said.
The executive board of the club consists of DiLuzio, freshman Morgan Laduke as vice president, sophomore Alex Blas as secretary and junior Jackie Kazim as treasurer. Including these executive board members, the club now has nearly 15 students involved.
The concept of the club grew from DiLuzio’s original idea in November 2016 to do something nice for members of the college’s dining hall staff. She advertised the idea on Facebook and attracted a group of students to make cards, posters and gift baskets for staff members. After receiving an appreciative response from dining hall staff, DiLuzio said, she felt inspired to continue acts of the same kind.
Shortly thereafter, in December 2016, DiLuzio broadened her idea into a club that would benefit other staff and faculty members and students on campus. Through Facebook and word of mouth, she created Random Acts of Kindness and asked people to get in contact with her if they were interested in joining the executive board.
“They were really grateful for it, and all of us really felt good about being able to do something nice for other people,” she said. “So I wanted to keep doing that and find different things to do around the school.”
Kazim said she thinks spontaneous acts of kindness are important because they surprise people and are not a part of their daily routine or the usual kindness they may receive from friends or professors. She said this is what makes an experience memorable.
“This is about breaking [up a daily routine] and making sure people not in your daily life can have an influence on you,” Kazim said.
Laduke said having a club like Random Acts of Kindness allows underappreciated people to know they are important.
“Sometimes there are people that work really hard and don’t get any acknowledgment for doing that, and I think sometimes they really need that,” Laduke said.
In the future, DiLuzio said, she would like the group to recreate the project she ran last semester with making cards and posters for more dining hall staff. In response to the contingent faculty protests, DiLuzio said she’d also like to do something to show the club’s support of the contingent faculty, but the plan has not yet been determined.
Freshman Alexis Lujares, a club member, said she joined Random Acts of Kindness because she was in a club similar to it in high school. She said she thinks a club like this is crucial on a college’s campus to remind students they can overcome their academic, mental and physical struggles.
“You need those reminders sometimes, and when they come up unexpectedly, it’s just a wonderful feeling,” Lujares said.
Ann Marie Adams, lecturer in the Department of Strategic Communications, is the club’s adviser. Adams said she likes how the club does not ask to be recognized for its actions, nor does it directly see whom it impacts.
“I like that sort of anonymity of doing a good deed, a random act of kindness,” she said.
Adams called the members of the club ambitious for having a different activity every week but said they carry it off without difficulty. Speaking about DiLuzio, Adams said she thinks it takes students a lot of effort to start their own student organization.
“I give a student credit who wants to do something different and to make a difference, and she saw this as the avenue to do that … and she leads by example,” Adams said.