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Central Washington University

CWU Students Promote Random Acts of Kindness Worldwide

Central Washington University students, faculty, and staff; Kittitas County residents; and people around the world are being encouraged to make a least one documented random act of kindness from February 7 through March 7.

“I choose to pledge because it seems as if kindness is dying out in the fast paced world,” says Mariah Rocker, a CWU sophomore from Creston. “Things that I see as common courtesy, such as smiling at someone as you walk by or opening doors for people, are now seen as surprising and special, and I think that needs to change.”

As a project for the CWU William O. Douglas Honors College (DHC) “What is Happiness?” class, the 24 enrolled students have launched a Random Acts of Kindness Pledge Drive website, along with companion Facebook and Twitter pages.

“We want people to do something kind above what they do normally,” says Natalie Lupton, an information technology and administrative management professor, who teaches the class. “To look and ask, ‘How can I help that person?’ or ‘How can I brighten that person’s day?’ by doing something that goes above their normal level of giving.”

Rocker adds, “By doing random acts of kindness, hopefully the propensity to be kind will spread, and the result will be a happier world.”

The goal is to have 5,000 registered random kind acts pledged on the website, which also provides space for people to share stories about what they did.  

Lupton predicts, “Because it’s by pledge, and not by person, it should be easy for us to come up with 5,000. I’m really excited about this and so are the students. This project will impact a lot of people in a positive way.”

Lupton notes that kickoff events for the random acts of kindness period will be held at the Rotary Pavilion in downtown on Friday, February 7, from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. and in the Student Union and Recreation Center Pit on Monday, February 10, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

“We’re going to have computers set up so that people can pledge on the spot through the website,” Lupton adds. “We want to get Ellensburg residents involved and excited, along with people across the country and world. We already have pledges from individuals from California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.”

The kickoff events will also include musical performances and activities in the local schools.

This is the second consecutive year DHC students are spending a quarter studying happiness from qualitative and quantitative points of view. The class enrollment has doubled since last year.

“They’re exposed to different ideas,” Lupton explains, “such as how their happiness effects other people’s happiness, the history of happiness, the measurement of happiness, and the impact of technology on happiness. The students do a lot of thinking and reflecting.”

Two students from last year’s class, the only such academic offering in Washington, went on to form a campus Students in Pursuit of Happiness Club. Next May, it will sponsor the second annual Happiness Day on campus.

Founded in 1977, CWU’s DHC provides an enriched academic environment for exceptional students through innovative interdisciplinary courses and dynamic upper-division scholarship experiences.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487, loweryr@cwu.edu

Pictured are members of the CWU "What is Happiness?" class