I made the decision not to participate, but a friend of mine who is a member of UVM Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) mentioned that the club members would be standing on the sidelines offering large garbage bags to students so they could have something to cover up with for the walk home. Although I wasn’t a part of the club, I volunteered to help out.
During the event I felt fairly uncomfortable watching on the sidelines as hundreds of unclothed college students ran by our group, but we had good conversation and laughed off the awkwardness. The whole event spanned around an hour. When the running began to simmer down we started to offer students the garbage bags. Many students were curious who we were and when we told them they were happy and appreciated the safe environment we were creating.
While I was handing out garbage bags, I noticed a girl by herself. She looked very worried; she was struggling with her words when she stumbled over she took a garbage bag I offered. She mumbled that she didn’t know where her friends went. She seemed very frightened. Seeing her in this state made me recall a past experience where I had lost my friends and had to walk back to my dorm alone late at night, so I offered to walk her home. At first she seemed skeptical but when I told her I was volunteering with SASA, she agreed.
... middle of paper ...
...elp her because I was already in a good mood from volunteering which led me to behave closer to my values and ideals. Helping her also prolonged my good mood. Although I think social exchange theory could have played a small role subconsciously I don’t think it was my primary motive since at the time I was not thinking of the costs or rewards of my behaviors.
The empathy-altruism hypothesis identifies most with my motive. I felt a strong sense of empathy and compassion for the girl since I knew how she felt. There is a debate on if true altruism exists. On revel platform the results of various studies show that true altruism can exist if when people experience empathy towards the suffering of another. I wouldn’t consider this encounter as an emergency and the girl was not necessarily suffering but I still felt empathy towards her which could exemplify true altruism.
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