April 24, 2019 | 63° F

U. Prepares for G.O.Y.A. Literacy Walk

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Students will be lacing up their sneakers and bundling up their coats because on Oct. 17, the G.O.Y.A. Project will host their 14th Annual Literacy Walk.

The Literacy Walk, through monetary and school supplies donations, is going to bring books and school supplies to the Dominican Republic, Sierra Leone and Rutgers’ hometown, New Brunswick, according to their Facebook page.

The supplies will be distributed amongst New Brunswick Reading Programs as part of the Global Literacy project, said Jennelle Ramdeen, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and president of G.O.Y.A.

G.O.Y.A., which stands for Galvanizing and Organizing Youth Activism, works on projects like the Literacy Walk to explore volunteerism as “both a practical and an intellectual opportunity to think about other people and to work with and for other people,” according to their website. 

The group will be working this event with more than 60 people who have RSVP’d on the Facebook event page, and there will also be several Rutgers’ student organizations in attendance.

 The G.O.Y.A. Project works all year to volunteer throughout the community. They have an active Facebook presence and individuals can donate year-round on their website of the same name, Riche said.

The Friends of the United Nations Public Fund is one of the organizations pledged to walk. 

Oluwasimidele Shonibare, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and spokesperson for the student organization, noted the importance of standing in solidarity.

The Friends of the United Nations Public Fund will have strong presence there. Although this organization usually focuses on international health and women’s rights, they also believe nothing is compartmentalized. 

“If a woman can read, what can’t she do?” Shonibare asked.

According to the G.O.Y.A. Project’s Facebook page, part of their mission statement is to “teach other students the value of service to others through volunteer projects that have both local and international impact.” This Literacy Walk is attempting to bridge the gap between the Rutgers community and the New Brunswick community.

DoSomething.org also has a campaign focused on increasing American Literacy rates. According to their website, students who are unable to read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Nearly 85 percent of juveniles facing trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.

Amongst individuals participating is Luke Svasti, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. Svasti is participating in the walk to meet students and give back to the New Brunswick community. 

“We live in a bubble of academic privilege, so its good to step out of (it) every once and a while,” he said.

Dropping out of school is also linked with a 5-figure drop in annual income compared to high school diploma holders with an even wider gap with bachelor degree holders, according to Education Week’s website.

Literacytexas.org reports on its “Literacy and Crime" page that the adult low literacy rate can affect all facets of socioeconomics, not just incarceration.

Svasti believes most students at the University are not restricted from access to resources of the University because of the help of financial aid. He said the cost of textbooks alone most likely are not stopping students from receiving an education at Rutgers, but throughout the rest of New Brunswick, this aid is vital.

“We like to talk about social work and poverty ... as an abstract idea, forgetting that the community around us is very poor,” Svasti said.

Brittany Gibson

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