Everyone on campus is aware of the Puget Sound bubble: the mentality that makes it so easy to spend four year here and not get involved in anything not directly related to campus. The best way to break from our insular mindset would be to establish a community service requirement for freshmen.
Perspectives provides a sampling of Tacoma during orientation, but does not provide a structure for continuous involvement in the Tacoma area. One function of such a structure would be to show students that community service is not difficult to work into one’s busy schedule.
The University of Puget Sound has a long-standing tradition of community service already. The Community Involvement and Action Center (CIAC) estimates that about 75 percent of students do some kind of service in a given year. A freshman year service requirement would have a number of benefits, including introducing the bus system to those without a car, highlighting parts of Tacoma that are in need and helping more freshmen discover their passion for service.
Of course there will be those students that will strive to fulfill the requirement and then fail to further pursue future service activities, but they are not the target beneficiaries of such a policy. Students that have an innate interest in community service and the drive to pursue community service throughout their time at college would benefit most from the requirement.
Currently, there are some professors who include community involvement in their curriculum. This is another great way to get students off campus and into the larger Tacoma community, but it cannot be a required facet of each class due to the prohibitory costs of such an endeavor. Academic advisors would be best suited to monitor the policy, as they could regulate student adherence as part of their other advising responsibilities.
Jack Pearce-Droge, the director of CIAC, disagrees with the idea. “I don’t know if a requirement would be necessary,” she said, adding, “students come here wanting to be involved.”
Pearce-Droge explained that in previous years, the campus was a part of an organization called the Campus Compact, in which there was a set structure for student volunteering. After a while, however, the membership fees became too expensive and the University withdrew from the organization’s ranks.
However, a membership to a group like the Campus Compact is not the only way to invigorate Logger involvement in service projects. In fact, our own campus organizations like Community Involvement and Action Center (CIAC) and the office of Spirituality, Service & Social Justice (SSSJ) have hundreds of ways for students to get involved. There are also clubs like the Circle K group who have weekly service outings in the greater Tacoma region.
Our school has an abundance of service opportunities, and sometimes the only thing people need is a little encouragement to get involved. A new policy would could not only help Univeristy of Puget Sound students discorver their passion for service but also may change the lives of people in host city.
Puget Sound students have great potential to do a great deal of good in this community. The freshman class alone has 625 students. If the service requirement for the year was 10 hours, that would guarantee 6,250 hours of service in the Tacoma area.
Students here have the ability to affect monumental amounts of change in our community, and a freshman year requirement would be the perfect way to kick start that potential.