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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    “Community of Awesome” finds joy of the campus

    Rob Drago has found himself saying the word “awesome” a lot lately.

    That’s probably because Drago, a junior political science major and intern in the Office of the Dean of Students, is the co-founder of “Community of Awesome,” a new blog promoting “the simple joys” of Stony Brook University.

    “Everything I say, I add the word ‘awesome’ to,” Drago said. “I’m not saying it’s a problem, it’s just because I’m part of this blog.”

    The other founder, Denise DeGenarro, a graduate student in the Higher Education Administration program, came up with the idea in late September from another blog, “1,000 Awesome Things,” and “The Book of Awesome” by Neil Pasricha.

    “This blog really makes me think about the positive things happening on campus everywhere I go,” said DeGenarro, who is also the graduate student assistant to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Jerrold Stein.

    The initiative to spread positivity is another goal of Drago, DeGenarro and other students who have become a part of Community Pledge, an initiative that started last semester in response to the bullying and suicide of Tyler Clementi at Rutgers University.

    “After Clementi’s death, we felt there was a lack of a sense of care for bullying and harassment on campus,” said Jeffrey Barnett, the assistant dean of students. “We started Community Pledge to counter that negativity.”

    During Community Week, which took place from Oct. 24 to 28, Community Pledge leaders gave out free hugs, sent thank you cards to staff and held doors open when it was raining.

    Community Pledge was also the inspiration for Community of Awesome.

    Other groups on campus, like Team Awesome, run by Homecoming King Nick Ela, have supported the positive message, as when they gave free hugs during Campus Lifetime on Oct. 26.

    They hope the blog will bring a positive message to incoming freshmen and prospective students.

    “I think it can provide prospective students with an insider’s glimpse into Stony Brook, and that is invaluable in helping them decide if we are the right place to attend,” said Matthew Whelan, Assistant Provost for Enrollment & Retention Management.

    The Community of Awesome founders are soliciting more submissions, which can come from any student, faculty or staff who feels they have “something awesome to share,” said DeGenarro. Anyone can fill out the online form when they go to the blog under ‘Submit an Awesome Thing.’

    “We have gone around to residential halls and even visited PUSO [Philippine United Student Organization] to get submissions for the blog,” Drago said.

    There are currently 83 posts on the blog and more than 90 more submissions collected from visiting groups on campus.

    “It’s only been a month, and so far it’s been cool seeing what comes out of it organically,” DeGenarro said.

    In the near future, Drago and DeGenarro will be visiting more clubs to get more submissions for the blog.

    In the spring, they are planning on having an art show in the SAC lobby displaying the posts for the whole campus community to see.

    “We want to see this blog grow into something not only found online, but something people can physically and visually appreciate,” said Drago of the upcoming art show.

    SBUThings, another student-run blog, displays a different message than Community of Awesome, according to its founder, who wants to remain anonymous because some of his posts are negative and he doesn’t want to lose his status on campus.

    “We cover a range of things from awesome all the way to the horrific and terrifying,” said the founder. “It’s not necessarily that SBUThings is a more honest blog about Stony Brook, but that its a blog where students aren’t wearing a fake smile and pretending like this is a perfect place to live.”

    According to the founder, the number of followers speak for themselves. SBUThings has 450 followers and many other non-Tumblr followers, while Community of Awesome currently has 13 followers on WordPress and 12,059 views from Sept. 28 to Nov. 9.

    “We have only been around for a little over a month and we have already gained a lot of attention,” DeGenarro said.

    One student has made a decision regarding the difference between SBUThings and Community of Awesome.

    “SBU Things not only focuses on cool things but also annoying things that go on,” said Natalia Popko, a freshman psychology major and Community Pledge leader. “I guess people can bond over a communal hatred of the fact that the Dunkin’ Donuts in the TCACH, Tabler Center for Arts, Culture and Humanities, has horrible hours of operation, but why not celebrate the fact that we have a Dunkin’ Donuts in general?”

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