In 2000, the United Nations set forth eight goals, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to cut poverty in half by 2015.
With only five years left to reach these goals, the United Nations is preparing to review the MDGs for the last time on Sept. 20 and students from the College are supporting the cause.
Ryan Pilarski, a sophomore philosophy major and Bonner Scholar, spearheaded efforts at the College for students to attend the Millennium Campus Conference and sign a petition urging President Obama and Congress to uphold their commitment to the MDGs.
According to Pilarski, “If fulfilled, the MDGs will provide the poorest 17 percent of the world, who live on less than one American dollar a day, with the opportunity to attend primary school, drink clean water, afford better child and maternal health care and work towards a sustainable future.”
Pilarski learned about the conference this past summer when high-school friend Jen Byrnes, national outreach associate for the Millennium Campus Network, suggested he may be interested in the cause.
“There has been very little publicizing of these Millennium Development Goals, and so this conference, which is the last of its kind before the 2015 deadline, is a phenomenal opportunity to bring these positive commitments to light,” Pilarski said.
Upon learning about the petition to President Obama and Congress, Pilarski contacted Olaniyi Solebo, Student Government Association executive president, who contacted all student organizations via e-mail encouraging members to sign the petition.
In the e-mail, Solebo wrote, “Many people wish they could affect change in people’s everyday lives. This is an opportunity for ordinary Americans to bring much-needed political attention to these important goals and the plight of impoverished people.”
“This is a great example of how something that started with just a few people has turned into a worldwide movement,” Solebo said.
Pilarski connected this conference with his work as a Bonner Scholar by establishing a system with the Millennium Campus Network in which he receives $7 for each student at the College who cites Pilarski as the person who encouraged them to attend the conference, and donate it to College initiatives at the Albert C. Wagner Correctional Facility.
“The Wagner Collegiate Initiative money will go to support college-level classes for inmates at Wagner, in order for them to receive college credit,” Pilarski said. “For every (College) student who attends, there will be a positive opportunity for a young inmate.”
Patrick Donohue, director of the Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement, says Pilarski contacted him over the summer about connecting the cause to his work as a Bonner Scholar. Since Donohue and Pilarski work together on the Wagner project, both thought the Wagner Collegiate Initiative would be a valuable cause to support in conjunction with the Millennium Campus Conference.
Donohue said, “We want to take our partnership (with Wagner) to the next level — which means not only teaching classes in the prison — but making sure the inmate students are earning credits towards a degree. Ryan’s donation will allow a few inmates to actually earn college credits from a community college in our network.”
Anyone interested in joining the effort can contact Ryan Pilarski at firstname.lastname@example.org.