Step One: The Ambition
The idea to provide non-perishable foods for impoverished students materialized while in the shower, of all places. The epiphany struck Gabby Shlyakh about the same time the aroma from her Dove’s Green Fig bar of soap triggered her olfactory senses.
At that point, though, all that the idea was an itch, just a sensation behind the ear that would irritate her until she picked at it long enough for it to get resolved. As a micromanager who’s unwilling, or perhaps unable, to delegate, she’s a bit of an obsessive. Unironically I’m sure, one of Gab’s favorite quotes are “every calamity is to be overcome by endurance.”
So, Gab carried that not yet tangible urge to “give back” with her, all the way back to Caesura’s building 1C office where she Editor in Chiefs the publication, conveniently, also the same place where her publication’s community service will shelve the donations they’re handed (cozied right next to their vintage tea set).
Their office, which Caesura shares with Operation Three-Legged Dolphin, their cosignatory for the canned food drive, could be described as Tim Burton’s Collegiate dorm room.
Its drearier mise-en-scène is disguised beneath comic fan art lining the upper crease of the walls and the cube shaped furniture gifted them is meticulously placed about as well as an average (at best) Tetris player would. But none of that matters given the area of service participants who frequent the office intend to accomplish.
Regularly a literary troupe intent on crafting art, the Ceasura and O3LD (three legged dolphin) crew now resembles more of a dot-com start up on a budget operating within the parameters of a recession — cash is tight but enthusiasm is had in spades.
The whole time, all I imagined was Jerry Maguire pleading at Rod Tidwell, “Help me help you; help me help you” over and over (oy, I hope I was a sturdy conversationalist).
“I wanted to do a canned/non-perishable food drive for students going through hardships this Thanksgiving,” Shlyakh told me over tea and cookies while she scoured the seedy recesses of Amazon for bear heads, no less, “that way they can still celebrate and break bread.”
The creative class of characters that frequent the second pillar of CSI’s campus center doesn’t border on, is steeped in, the bizarre but in the best way possible: genius is accompanied by madness, I heard somewhere once or twice… or read it online someplace… so something tells me it must be true.
“I just shout at people until they do stuff,” she responded in jest after I asked how she juggled all her responsibilities, publishing her literary journal and now managing a give back to the needy crusade. “But really if [people] are reliable they will show you that they care.”
Building 1C’s eclectic team of rascals devised a system that maximized their collective muscle. What cans Caesura, and by association O3LD, collects will be passed off to NYPIRG. NYPIRG’s resources, connections, and networks are wider and more efficient than Ceasura’s so it only made sense for Caesura to go and align with them.
Step Three: The Resolution
Part and parcel with empowering in-need students was a craving to emancipate CSI’s 1C nerd-tech-gamer culture from their introversion or at the very least away from their apparent status on the margins of campus life.
“I figure the kids sitting around in 1C most of the time have a lot of surplus cash and low confidence,” she explained to me in one impromptu comment that I regretfully never asked her to elaborate on. “I’m using [a] Superhero gimmick to inspire these kids –
who sometimes feel otherwise useless to their communities – to be heroes to their community.”
The clever gal staged a coup of sorts, bypassing the traditional hierarchy of go to surrogates — office of student life administrators — and dabbing her cotton swabs, if you will, directly into the lifeline of CSI academia: her confrères or peers within student body.
“Kinda sneaky, but you achieve two amazing things. You [help] these kids feel like they’ve made a difference [while simultaneously] helping students in need.”
The two clubs’ mission hasn’t been all extended recess time and second helpings of candy either. Red tape, even more so than first world apathy, has been the most stressful obstacle to contend with.
CSI’s bureaucracy has its bylaws and guidelines and ordinances and impediments that I’m sure meant well at one time or another (preventing theft and embezzlement) but now the sheer number has exceeded its usefulness or maybe it hasn’t; in any case, rules! rules! rules!
Team Caesura, though, has been regulating their stress levels with equal parts enthusiasm and chutzpah so the effort they have put in far outweighs the grief they’ve received in return, from what I’ve been told.
As of this writing the goal or benchmark for success in the eyes of Caesura’s Chief Editor is to have her clans’ can collection exploits tower taller than her 5’2” frame. All the hoops they’ve jumped through would be worth it if they accomplish that.
by Jeremy L. Pasker