If you’re a Hokie, you already know the ins and outs of Virginia Tech’s motto: Ut Prosim. The phrase has been ringing in our heads since the day we received our acceptance letters, and continues to play out in our lives in the Virginia Tech community.
Ut Prosim, or “That I May Serve,” is the backbone of what it means to be a Hokie: giving back to the community as much as possible. Hokies do this through many avenues, from events of campus-wide involvement, like The Big Event, or as small as volunteering with Campus Kitchen every week. Hokies can also live out Ut Prosim by starting in square one: the place they live.
If you are a freshman living in a dorm, you may feel like there isn’t much for you to do in your living community if you aren’t an RA, or if you aren’t serving on Student Staff Council. Though your options may be limited, fret not. There are plenty of ways for you to include Ut Prosim in your dorm.
The first small task you can complete is helping out the cleaning staff. Your dorm’s janitorial staff work incredibly hard to keep the environment clean and welcoming for all residents. Maintaining a clean environment is difficult when hundreds of college freshmen are cramped together, collectively making messes. To take some of the workload off of the cleaning staff, pick up any trash you see on the floor, keep your space clean and mind the mess you make in the communal bathrooms.
On top of being kind to the cleaning staff, take it easy on your Resident Advisor. RA’s don’t have the easiest job in the world –– maintaining a positive environment in a hall can be more difficult than it looks. The next time you pop into your RA’s room, ask them how they are doing. They’re always so busy checking up on you, it may be nice to change things up and make sure they are being taken care of. I’m positive your RA will appreciate it.
In order to create a warm and content climate in your dorm, spend a few minutes introducing yourself to a few new people you’ve never met before. Though it’s pretty far into your freshman year of school, it doesn’t hurt to make a few new friends. Visit some of the quieter people on the hall and introduce yourself if you haven’t already. If you feel that your dorm is a closed-door isolated hall, try organizing a hall dinner or create a study group to help build a stronger sense of community.
Living out Ut Prosim doesn’t stop when you move off campus. Including Ut Prosimin your everyday life includes activities on campus and in your apartment as well. Living out Ut Prosim in your apartment community can range anywhere from picking up trash to organizing a community event.
The first step to embrace Ut Prosim off campus is to analyze your own actions. For example, take it upon yourself to brush up on your parking skills. If parking is limited in your apartment complex, be a considerate parker. Don’t block more than one space and don’t block another car in. You don’t necessarily have to parallel park perfectly; however, you have to admit –– it is incredibly annoying when the car next to you is obnoxiously parked. Help your neighbors a bit and sharpen your parking skills.
In addition to being respectful in the parking lot, be a considerate neighbor. Maybe don’t use a hammer to hang any paintings in the middle of the night, or blast your playlists at eight in the morning. Being a considerate neighbor doesn’t just stop with being polite and respectful –– be sure to help out your neighbors if you can. If you see a neighbor struggling to carry their bags, offer to help. At the end of the year, see if anyone needs help moving furniture. Small favors like carrying in groceries and helping a neighbor move in or out can open opportunities to make new friends and give back to your neighborhood.
If you want to have a bigger hand in the happenings in your community, consider checking with your front office for any volunteer opportunities. Maybe the office needs some help with day-to-day organization or paperwork, or maybe they just need someone to hand out pamphlets to potential apartment tenants. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you see trash on the ground, pick it up. There may be a few times during the year that you will notice a considerable amount of trash littered around your apartment. If this is the case, maybe talk to your front office or your neighbors to organize a neighborhood clean-up. Take initiative to make your community a better place, one small step at a time.
Ut Prosim is a tradition that connects with every Hokie at Virginia Tech. Though these seem like small tasks lost in the bigger picture of Ut Prosim, building a welcoming sense of community in your dorm or apartment complex circles back to helping Hokie Nation in more positive ways than you can imagine.