01Jun, 2010

From the SMU Daily Mustang

Narcissistic, lazy and spoiled are just a few of the characteristics that some may use to describe Generation Y. From social networking sites that are used as virtual ego inflators to the instant-fame obsessed culture, it’s no wonder people have diagnosed the Millennials as “overdosed on self-esteem.”

However, there is a new counterculture movement called I AM SECOND and it has leaked onto the SMU campus. According to their website, the organization is meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.

Representatives from the nationwide movement range from athletes like former University of Texas quarterback, Colt McCoy, to American Idol’s Jason Castro, to the every day person.

The movement uses short videos of personal testimonies that deal with the typical struggles of everyday living.

SMU junior James Parker saw the need for a group that empowers students to live for something greater than them—to be second. He decided to begin the first I AM SECOND group early this spring in the Mary Hay Hall.

“I see this [group] not just as a Christian thing, but for each other,” Parker said.

Although James is well-connected with students as a resident advisor and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, he didn’t know what to expect the first meeting.

“I thought maybe six or seven students would show up, but when I opened the door, it was like a roar,” Parker said.

To his surprise, nearly 30 students showed up at the first meeting.

Perhaps SMU students have their own perceptions of religious based groups, but Parker said that the I AM SECOND group on campus is not what you may think. On the group’s Facebook page is a disclaimer stating, “I AM SECOND is not: a bible study, church group, youth group or whatever.”

Due to the success of the group, four other resident halls now host a discussion group. The meetings consist of watching an I AM SECOND video and then discussing how it relates to your life.

The discussion groups not only talk about students’ personal struggles but how they are able to become second to God.

Group leader Evan Taylor said he envisions the group volunteering together so they can grow closer.

“We are community-based and about each other,” Taylor said.

Freshman Kacey Nelson, a participant in the group agrees that helping others should be something people focus more time on.

“I don’t think people spend enough time helping others,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t even have to be religious.”

Although the I AM SECOND group on campus is rooted in Christian values, the group strives to be inclusive and welcomes people from all religions to attend the meetings.

Nelson said that the group does not allow people to be judgmental and Taylor said students will not feel out of place.

“I just want SMU to know that this is a safe place,” Taylor said “No one would be bashed for their beliefs.”

With a selfless movement like I AM SECOND on the rise, it is unclear as to whether some Generation Y stereotypes are warranted. In fact, the Pew Research Center conducted a report on the values, attitudes and behaviors of Millennials.

The study found that the things Millennials value in life mirror the things older generations value. Family matters most and fame and fortune are much less important.

Journalism professor at SMU, Jake Batsell, also argues against Generation Y stereotypes in his recent blog post titled, “Journalism’s Next Generation: Working with Millennials.” Batsell claims that SMU journalism students actually want to make a difference.

“They want to use their multi-platform storytelling skills to do some good,” Batsell said.

Helping others has certainly become a trend at SMU.

“Two recent SMU grads spent part of last summer reporting and blogging from Romanian orphanages and one of our recent alums helped start an orphanage in Uganda,” wrote Batsell.

There are many different opportunities to ‘be second’ and make a difference at SMU. If you would like to get involved with the I AM SECOND’ group on campus, they hold meetings at Perkins Hall, Mary Hay Hall, Virginia Snider Hall, Shuttles Hall and Morrison-McGinnis Hall.

You can check out their website for SMU students for more information.