Those words—a five-syllable suggestion from a faculty mentor—sparked John Carroll University student Rachael Greuber ’14 to take a stand for a cause she passionately believes in.
For nearly a year, Greuber poured her energy and enthusiasm into starting a JCU chapter of STAND, an international, student-led movement to end mass atrocities. Greuber learned about the organization from JCU sociology and criminology professor Richard Clark, Ph.D., whom she met as a first-year student in a human rights and social justice course.
“Dr. Clark introduced me to a harsh reality that I had no idea still existed in our world today, genocide,” says Greuber. “Like most people, when I heard the word ‘genocide,’ I instantly thought about World War II, Hitler, concentration camps—tragic events in history that would never happen again. Right? Sadly, I was wrong.”
Greuber, of Perry, Ohio, continued to take courses with Dr. Clark, who also directs the University’s peace, justice, and human rights program. But she did more than expand her knowledge about pressing human rights concerns. The sociology and criminology major began to ask questions about why—globally—more wasn’t being done, and why—locally—STAND didn’t have a presence at JCU.
So, with the support and encouragement of Dr. Clark, Greuber embarked on launching STAND at John Carroll. After her sophomore year, Greuber secured an internship with the U.S. Marshals Service in Washington, D.C., in summer 2012. At Dr. Clark’s recommendation, she connected with a D.C.-area contact who offered helpful insights on establishing a new chapter.
Greuber returned in the fall for her junior year at JCU, where she also is minoring in forensic behavioral science and women’s and gender studies. She set about building interest in STAND, recruiting the chapter’s charter members, and connecting with campus and STAND officials. Those hours of effort resulted in official recognition for the chapter in spring 2013.
The work, though, had only begun for Greuber and her STAND colleagues. They collected signatures from students and faculty for a letter urging President Barack Obama to address modern-day genocide. But they wanted to do more. They wanted to raise awareness of STAND’s mission in a way that would not only grab attention, but also educate the campus community and prompt further discussion.
Last spring, STAND brought the One Million Bones project to JCU. Their inspiration was an initiative that gathered and displayed 1,000,000 handmade “bones” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for three days in June 2013. The installation honored victims and survivors of ongoing genocides and mass atrocities in places like Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and Burma. Organizers called the event a “visual petition” against these ongoing conflicts and a call for action to end them.
Drawing on the plans for the national project, STAND members placed papier-mâché bones along the sidewalks on JCU’s main Quad. They also posted signs offering facts about current and past genocides. Greuber sees the One Million Bones project as an important foundation for STAND’s growth, a first step toward mobilizing JCU students to act against global atrocities.
“More than anything, John Carroll has taught me about being a woman for others,” says Greuber. She has lived that mission at JCU—serving through an immersion experience trip to El Salvador last summer, tutoring Cleveland middle school students for three years with the We the People civic education program, and co-organizing a Take Back the Night event last spring to speak out against sexual assault and domestic violence.
“I want to incorporate the lessons I’ve learned at John Carroll, as well as my faith, into any work I might do in the future,” Greuber says.
For the next six months, her future will involve gaining more internship experience with major federal agencies. Greuber is interning this summer with the U.S. Secret Service in Cleveland. In the fall, she’ll return to the nation’s capital to work with the International Missions Office of the U.S. Department of State.
Greuber, who also competes on JCU’s varsity cross-country team, aims to complete her coursework in spring 2014. After that, she’s considering several promising possibilities—a year of service, pursuing a position with a grassroots advocacy organization, or in federal law enforcement.
“If it were not for John Carroll, I doubt that my human rights passion would ever be sparked into activism and a possible career path,” Greuber says. “Our STAND chapter could not have been possible without role models like Dr. Clark and a supportive student body that is so passionate and service oriented.”
To learn more, read a blog post featuring Rachael Greuber on the STAND website.