MIT pilots “Day Of Action” to encourage service

Organizers hope to “create avenues” for people to engage in civic action through talks, workshops

A hackathon-style service-oriented event called Day of Action will take place April 18 (a school holiday) with lectures and workshops running from 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Activities at Day of Action will include a talk by Professor of Economics and major contributor to Obamacare Jonathan Gruber discussing the future of US healthcare policy, a lecture on ending political corruption by Represent.Us Boston, and a talk on the distinction between free speech and hate speech by two Harvard graduate students in Philosophy, Wendy Salkin and Ronni Gura Sadovsky.

Not to be confused with the Together in Service, an MIT service program, Day of Action is being run for the first time this year.

“I think that you know today, more than certainly any time in my recent memory in the United States, people feel that you know they want to do things and make a difference and it's hard to know how to do that,” Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Day of Action co-organizer Roger Levy said in an interview with The Tech. The day aims to “create avenues” for people to engage in civic action.

“Recharging for the Activist,”an event which includes how to meditate while walking, is one of many on the Day of Action.

Professor of Philosophy and Day of Action co-organizer Sally Haslanger touted the benefits of on-the-go meditation in an interview with The Tech: “One of my friends … taught me how to do walking meditation. So I don’t have to sit in my room — I can be walking to campus and still do meditation.”

“If you are an activist, you often achieve heightened sensitivity to injustice. Waking up every day with that heightened sensitivity … is exhausting,” Haslanger said. “So what you want to do is find ways to help people realize that they don’t have to work with every issue every day —  they can pace themselves.”

The day is open to everyone, including undergraduates, graduate students, professors, administrative staff, custodial staff, and Cambridge residents.

“This is a day that’s open to all,” Levy said. “We hope to see the widest variety of perspectives there.”

“We would love for as many people as possible to come for all day, but we also recognize that of course not everybody can come all day,” Levy said. If people can only come for a bit, “that’s great and that’s wonderful. It’s better than not showing up.”

The organization for Day of Action was spurred by Princeton University’s day of action.  “Princeton held a day of action on March 6,” Levy said. The organizers of Princeton’s day of Action got in touch with MIT professors and asked if they’d “be interested in doing something similar.”

Snacks will be provided to participants throughout the day, including lunch and a “modest” dinner. The day will be rounded off with a DJ’d after-party hosted by the organizers in the Stata Amphitheater.