Courtesy of Alexandra Chudik
One new club on Ohio State’s campus has a simple message of spreading joy and kindness.
Founded at OSU Spring Quarter, The Boo Radley Society has dubbed itself the “random acts of kindness club.”
The club has six free random acts of kindness planned for the quarter. The first was called Sweetness on the Sidewalk, which happened Wednesday night on the Oval.
About 25 members of the club chalked the sidewalks and long walk of the Oval with positive messages such as ‘Today will be awesome!’ and ‘Have a great day!’ along with a hopscotch game, colorful chalk bricks and more.
President and founder of the society, Marygrace Ashdown, a second-year in business marketing, started the club at her high school in Cincinnati before bringing Boo Radley to OSU.
“It was my life there, and I absolutely loved it,” Ashdown said. “Then I got to Ohio State and got involved, but I still felt like something was missing. So I started it here and I’m really excited about it.”
Ashdown said the club’s name and inspiration comes from a character in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“The character Boo Radley is behind-the-scenes and kind of misunderstood, but basically I was just inspired by his altruistic nature,” Ashdown said. “He wants to do good for other people for the sake of doing good. I want my members to have that same lifestyle of just doing good things.”
Radley is a recluse in “To Kill a Mockingbird” who is shunned by members of his town because of untrue rumors spread about him. Regardless, Radley reaches out to the children in the book by watching over them and eventually saving their lives.
Ashdown said she is floored by the enthusiasm of her members and is excited about what the club can accomplish in the name of Boo Radley.
One member, Sarah Fuchs, a first-year in materials science and engineering, called the club and its message “adorable.”
“I think the goal of bringing smiles and joy to the world is horribly admirable,” Fuchs said. “I decided I must join.”
Brittney Castle, a second-year in marketing, said she was recruited to join the club by her friend and is glad she did.
“I’m excited to spread happiness on campus,” Castle said. “I think it’s especially important now with the recent hate crimes on campus to counteract those and encourage others to stay positive.”
There have been a string of hate crimes on campus, and in the campus area that have resulted in hate crime alerts from the university.
Ashdown and Castle agreed that the number of members has impressed them.
“We have 41 members, which is crazy because we just became official a month ago,” Ashdown said.
“I’d like to see it expand even more,” Castle said. “It’s already bigger than expected, and I’d like to see even more people help get Boo Radley’s name out there.”
Ashdown said the club is different from other groups who pass out free water and T-shirts on the Oval.
“If we’re handing out free water, I want to be able to just hand it to you and send you on your way,” Ashdown said. “We’re not trying to pitch anything to you or distract you from going to class. I want Boo Radley to be really easygoing, and not hassle you about joining our society.”
The club will return to the Oval for its next event, High-Five Friday, May 2. This event will have the members lining the Long Walk to give out high-fives to the people who walk by them.
“Someone could be having the absolute worst day possible and doing something nice like holding the door open is so simple for you to do, and it makes such a big impact, so why wouldn’t you do it?” Ashdown said.