College Students

Jacob Schekman Julio Leal English 1A 6 July 2009 How to Better a Community; Step One: College Students “I went to a large state school – the University of Illinois – and during my time there, I became one of the best two or three foosball players in the Land of Lincoln. I learned to pass deftly between my rigid players, to play the corners, to strike the ball like a cobra would strike something a cobra would want to strike.

I also mastered the dart game called Cricket, and the billiards contest called Nine-ball.

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I became expert at whiffle ball, at backyard archery, and at a sport we invented that involved one person tossing roasted chickens from a balcony to a group us waiting below. We got to eat the parts that didn’t land on the patio. ” (Dave Eggers 583) The excerpt above was written by author Dave Eggers in, “Serve or Fail. ” Dave Eggers explains the importance of making community service a requirement for college graduation.

Seeing as Eggers attended college himself, the University of Illinois, he experienced first-hand the college life that did not involve homework or studying.

He noticed that students waste too much time with recreational activities. They could be volunteering in the community to make it safer, or working as an intern to find a good career; or if they already have a career in mind, students could be out in the work field doing research for school while learning about the career they desire to ensue. [1] Instead, time is usually squandered away with a number of unhelpful activities such as foosball, whiffle ball, and even made up games. Any community would greatly benefit from colleges or universities that required its students to complete a certain number of community service hours.

Even the students themselves would benefit, gaining character and knowledge while working with fellow students as interns. Towns and Cities all over the United States are in need of remodeling, or they contain non-profit organizations that need more workers; what makes the reconditioning or supplying of workers so difficult is the lack of money. A project where plenty of people are needed for work will cost too much to the people in charge of the task. With money being the main problem, it seems logical that volunteer work is the best solution; but where is it that a community can find enough volunteers to do the job?

Most people already work their own paying job, so they couldn’t possibly work as a volunteer. The answer to finding enough volunteer workers lies within the colleges around the country. There are a number colleges and universities that have realized the benefits that will come from requiring their students to perform in community service acts before graduation.

Bates College, a small liberal-arts school just north of Portland, Oregon, requires its students to go through with community service in order to earn enough college credit.

In the year of 1999, half of Bates’ 1,600 students provided 59,381 hours of community service. Mr. Carignan, a professor at the college, “requires students in his class on American slavery to volunteer at a homeless shelter, public housing project, or local school so that they can ‘understand, up close, the feeling of being marginalized, and the consequences of stereotyping'” (Schwinn 32). Not only do these organizations benefit from Mr.

Carignan’s students, but the students themselves benefit by first hand learning.

They learn how the very people they study about felt during their own time, something that must be very compelling for the students in an American Slaver Class. If every college student enrolled was required to have even a small number of community service hours each year, then non-profit organizations all over the country would greatly benefit. Eggers provides statistical evidence by saying, “But exempt[ing] community college students… you would still have almost 10 million college students enrolled in four-year colleges in the United states”[2] (384).

This means that if each student were required to have 20 hours (the equivalent of four mornings a year) of community service a year, then communities around the country would flourish due the 800 million hours of community service put in by the students.

Imagine how much your local church or community outreach program would gain from students providing the much needed help. My local church in the Pajaro Valley was in dire need of remodeling, and when local people decided to step in and help, the church’s remodeling was finished in very little time.

The church had looked better than ever, and if it weren’t for the locals, the remodeling may never have taken place. In 1999, California Gov. Gray Davis proposed a community service requirement for colleges and universities.

The Daily Californian, the student newspaper at the University of California Berkeley, opposed the plan; the exclaimed that “Forced philanthropy will be as much an oxymoron in action as it is in terms. Who would want to receive community service from someone who is forced to serve? Is forced community service in California not generally reserved for criminals and delinquents? (584). I personally find these statements absurd. It puts forth a very poor view of college students. Are we expected to think that the unwilling college volunteer is going to throw food at customers? Everyone knows it is natural to be disappointed to have to put in service, but that viewpoint will quickly change when you meet someone who actually needs your help. With most colleges not requiring students to help the community in any way, it is not so often that you will find a student actually volunteering on their own.

Still, when a student does decide to sacrifice some of their own time to help their local community, they do not usually stay the job for long. Dave Eggers talks about his volunteering experiences while in college: “I volunteered a few times in Urbana-Champaign – at a Y. M. C. A. and at a home for senior citizens – and in both cases it was much too easy to quit.

I thought the senior home smelled odd, so I left, and though the Y. M. C. A. was a perfect fit, I could have used nudging – nudging the university might have provided.

Just as parents and schools need to foster in young people a “reading habit” – a love of reading that becomes a need, almost an addiction – colleges are best-poised to create in their students a lifelong commitment to volunteering even a few hours a month” (Dave Eggers 583). Most students just don’t feel the need to volunteer in the community. Some feel they need more study time, and others just want more recreational time. They don’t realize the benefits of working for their local community.

Since Eggers experienced this first hand, he knows that a college or university needs to require its students to have a certain number of community service hours before graduating in order to have the students gain the benefits from service-learning. A university cannot simply expect its student to seek out the work themselves; the students need some form of motivation.

Although the service-learning program in college is entirely advantageous to the students, the college, and the community surrounding them, others still find reasons to criticize the program.

When President Obama had first proposed his “Service in College” program, journalist Tom Blumer, from the MSNBC news network, was among the first to oppose the proposition. President Obama’s community service proposal would require students to complete 100 hours of community service before college graduation. Blumer’s problem with Obama’s proposal is that “Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of the roughly 3. 2 million high school seniors who graduate each year who aren’t cut out for college…will not go into private-sector jobs that might make sense for them, but will instead erroneously or prematurely choose higher education” (Blumer).

Blumer makes a good point; many graduating high school seniors are not quite prepared for the rigors of college. Some students probably would choose to enter into a volunteer program that isn’t best suited for them, only because they feel they have to. However, these students would not have to decide on their own where they should work. Before any college could establish a Service-Learning program, they would first have to establish a Service-Learning center.