Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers give BAK: Student-founded group Badger Acts of Kindness does good deeds of all stripes

A University of Wisconsin senior wanted to start a movement that would promote selflessness, happiness and a more positive outlook on life – plus free hugs and high fives.

This fall, Brianna Prosser, a biology and life sciences communication major, created a new student organization, Badger Acts of Kindness, to spread these ideals throughout campus.

“Walking around campus every day, the things that make my day are the little things people do [like] holding open the door, sending people notes asking if they’re having a good day,” she said. “I thought it would be a fun way to spread kindness around campus.”


In a sea of 40,000 students who are often confined to their headphones and whose social interactions may be limited to close friends, random acts of kindness provide small ways to disrupt complete isolation and even bring people together – if only for a second or two.

“It’s about making sure that other people know that you’re there, that you’re friendly and nice [and] willing to help out. Everyone needs that person around,” Prosser said, who is BAK’s president. “I have a good friend who always does nice things for me when I need a little boost, and it always makes me feel better.”

Prosser herself is no stranger to helping others, having volunteered on builds with Habitat for Humanity and participated in an alternative break aiding in hurricane relief efforts in Indiana during her freshman year.

“It’s something I’ve always been passionate about; helping others and doing whatever I can,” she said.

The organization is still in development after kicking off at the beginning of October and holding two planning meetings, but several initiatives are already in place.

Members of the group have recently created “kindness cards” in hopes to create a “pay it forward” mentality. After a cardholder does something nice for someone – even something as small as a smile on the street to a stranger – he or she can pass on the card, which gives the following instruction: “You have been chosen as a recipient of a Badger Act of Kindness. Now do something nice for someone else, expecting nothing in return, and pass this coupon on to them.”

Members have also distributed “Take a Smile” flyers around the city with inspirational phrases like “Smile, you’re beautiful” or “Spread your wings and fly” for strangers to find. While messages like these might not immediately alter your life philosophy, they may provide a bit of relief – maybe even hope or happiness – as you trudge across campus from one frustrating midterm to the next.

To Prosser, anonymous acts are part of what defines kindness.

“Kindness to me means going out of your way to do something nice for someone else without receiving anything in return,” she said. “I like the way it makes other people feel.”

Both World Kindness Day (Nov. 6) and World Kindness Week (Nov. 14-20) are approaching, and Prosser has plans for BAK to celebrate. Each day will focus on a different act, but sure to be included are free balloons, free hugs and free high fives on Bascom Hill. Throughout the week, the group will also distribute lists of random acts of kindness students can bring to their daily lives.

Also on the docket for the group is the Red and White Hunger Fight, in which it will distribute flyers and bags to encourage food donations, which will eventually be delivered to the Community Action Coalition, a local nonprofit that aims to develop economic and social capacities of individuals and families to reduce poverty.

The group has also been in contact with the Colleges Against Cancer Foundation for future collaboration. BAK also plans on raking and shoveling random lawns and driveways throughout the Madison community.

Prosser said she was able to establish the group with the help of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, which guided her along to start an organization at UW, raise awareness and give ideas. The most popular suggestions on the group’s website,, include giving care packages to the homeless, saying good morning, holding the door open for someone, embracing mistakes and cooking a meal for someone.

Prosser said the foundation is working on spreading campus affiliations throughout the country. For now, though, BAK is an independent project. Funding for the organization is provided by group members and sponsors through donations.

The group’s impact is still too soon to measure, but Prosser said the feedback she has been receiving from students, especially from initiatives like the “nice notes,” has been positive.

“People are intrigued about what we’re doing,” she said.

While she continues to raise awareness about the organization and the mission behind it, Prosser hopes to show students how to be more conscious of the things they do on a daily basis.

She said she feels students can have a large impact on their own lives and the lives of others around them by adopting kinder practices.

“Being conscious about the little things people do – even though they’re little things – they can make a big difference,” she said.

Those who may be skeptical of this optimistic message should take heed. Even Kurt Vonnegut, famed novelist, satirist and pessimist, once wrote, “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'”

Badger Acts of Kindness meets every other Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in 2131 Humanities. For more information about the organization, search “Badger Acts of Kindness” on Facebook.

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