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Be Kind. Be Orange

Posted March 21st, 2013 by vandomja

 By: James Van Domelen

Be Kind. Be Orange.

            To some people, the word ‘Orange’ may simply refer to a favorite color or a citric fruit that provides vitamin C, but to me it means something much more profound. When I think about what it means to be Orange, my thoughts automatically turn to Oregon State University. More importantly, I think about the community of individuals that make up OSU as a whole. These individuals are more commonly known as the ‘Beaver Nation’. This nation of people is the backbone of the University and enables it to successfully function as a unit. Through their actions of kindness, generosity, and dedication, the true meaning of Orange emerges. As I work towards completing my education, I want these actions to be appropriately reflected in my degree. I want Orange to represent the values that the Beaver Nation displays on a daily basis, which are kindness and acquired knowledge.

Ultimately, the individuals within the Beaver Nation are responsible for the reputation of what it means to be orange. Being apart of this community simply means having an association with Oregon State University. This is the only prerequisite that is required to join the Beaver Nation. Therefore, we welcome people from all backgrounds in an inclusive manner. However, the actions of these individuals are not equally representative in what it means to be Orange. I see there being two distinct subgroups within the Beaver Nation: the primary group and the secondary group. The primary group consists of students, staff, and faculty that have a direct relationship with Oregon State University. On the other hand, I view the secondary group as being an extended family of the primary group. This group could consist of friends, family members, sports fans, future students, and other people that have an indirect relationship with Oregon State University. Therefore, the actions of the primary group have more influence on what it means to be orange due to their interconnectedness with Oregon State University.

As a student, I am constantly being exposed to these actions from both the primary and secondary groups within the Beaver Nation. Therefore, I’m in an optimal position to witness and reflect upon what it means to be orange. I most clearly associate these actions with the values I stated earlier, which are kindness and acquired intellect. To me these two values are important because they provide a foundation to succeed in the future. This applies not only to occupational excellence, but also in developing a sense of character. Having this type of community, one that cares for each other and works to achieve intellect, is something I highly respect. I want to stimulate my character growth and these values will help me reach my goal.

When defining kindness, I’m simply referring to an act that contains warm-heartedness, consideration, or sympathy towards someone or something. I have observed acts of kindness on the student level in the form of holding a door open for another colleague or simply just giving a smile. I’ve seen OSU football fans stay the entire game to show support and sympathy for their team even when they’re losing in a blowout. On an organizational level, Fraternities and Sororities are routinely holding fundraisers to benefit people suffering from debilitating diseases or other important issues. Lastly at the university level, I’ve witnessed them incorporate a no smoking policy on campus. This shows a respect for the environment and displays consideration toward people who don’t smoke. However the act of kindness by the Orange community doesn’t stop at the University level, it extends to the far reaches of the globe. For OSU Public Health graduate Lindsey Kato, she found her calling as a community-based suicide prevention services coordinator in Juneau, Alaska. She says, “To be able to create a safe, healthy environment for future generations and to give back to the community that literally helped me up when I was down, is just amazing,” (Turner). This is exactly what being Orange is all about; actively engaging in kindness, not only in your local community but also around the world. Through these actions, the Beaver Nation has provided evidence to support why kindness is a value that defines what it means to be Orange.

The value of kindness only contributes to half of what it means to be Orange, the other half comes in the form of acquired intellect. When defining acquired intellect, I’m referring to new information that contributes to your overall character development while at OSU. This includes newfound wisdom, skills, facts, experiences, friendships, and identity of self. In fact, the University supports this value through the Baccalaureate Core classes. They’re designed to give students the ability to explore and learn new information in multiple fields of study. This is one of the top goals that Oregon State University has supported and is actively influencing. However, acquired intellect can also be observed in the library as students study to prepare for exams. Through the guidance of professors at OSU, students are able to acquire new skills that will benefit them in the future. Acquired intellect can also be something as simple as taking a few minutes to relax. In this process of relaxation you’re able to care for your mind and body. This type of self-engagement is important and the University supports it through the Mind Spa. Located in Snell Hall, the Mind Spa offers student services that range from Full-Spectrum Light Therapy to self-meditation. The culmination of these actions help contribute to why acquired intellect is such a big component of character development and helping to define what it means to be orange.

Overall I think the Beaver Nation has been fairly successful in conveying the values of kindness and acquired intellect when it comes to defining what it means to be Orange. However, I would like to see OSU make some changes to strengthen these keystone values. First, I want to suggest a new way in which the University could improve obtaining acquired intellect. Professors should be required to incorporate ‘effort’ into their grading rubric when deciding a final grade. Effort should be accountable for at least 10% of each student’s overall performance. Effort can be graded on overall completion of assignments, attendance to lecture, participation, progress made over the term, or completing extra assignments. In adding effort into the grading scheme it will promote students to become more engaged in academics and stimulate a taste for knowledge. This means that failing a midterm will not completely destroy your chances at getting a desirable grade in the class. I believe incorporating this method of grading will enhance the motivation students have to learn, which will trickle down to improve the value of acquired intellect while at OSU.

Secondly, I think the value of kindness is being misrepresented through our University’s new logo. The new beaver sends signals of being fierce, tough, and focused. These traits are great when speaking about the athletic programs, but not when they’re applied to the university as a whole. The logo is an important accessory because it’s usually the first thing that people associate OSU with. Therefore, our new logo is not appropriately displaying what it means to be Orange. I want a new logo that dulls down the aggressiveness and focuses on being welcoming. As a result this will give people outside the Beaver Nation a better understanding of what it really means to be Orange.

Throughout this essay I have identified two key values that contribute to what it means to be Orange, which are kindness and acquiring intellect. These values are the direct result of what I’ve witnessed occur through the actions of the Beaver Nation. I believe that individual actions determine what being Orange is all about. No matter the size of the action, big or small, each one is important in describing Oregon State University. Kindness and acquired intellect are two values that I want to be associated with my degree when I graduate. In efforts to amplify these values, I have suggested a few ideas that the University could integrate into the Orange community. Whether or not they get accepted, I know the Beaver Nation will continue to reflect the values of what it means to be Orange through their actions.


Works Cited

Turner, Heather. “Public Health Grad’s Lifelong Struggles Inspire Need To Help

Others.” Synergies 20 Feb. 2013: 1. Print.

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