At Public School 29 in Rochester, N.Y., African-American graduate students and employees from UR answer questions that students have about college. The volunteers share personal stories of overcoming adversity, as well. They are a part of the “Pillars of Hope” program that services the city of Rochester.
A mile away, at Public School 19, students from the UR College Republicans explain the college admissions process, tell of opportunities and fun times they have had, and pass around pictures of the campus. The teachers participate in the discussion and are pleased by how things go.
The situation at Public School 52, however, is quite uneventful. There are no clubs giving presentations in its classrooms. Maybe this wouldn’t be the case if clubs had more incentives to give back to the community they are now part of.
Wilson Day, the Tiernan Project and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership all provide great community service opportunities to students, as do some clubs on campus, but we could give back even more.
The College Republicans have recently held events that have supplemented the Center for Community Leadership’s Project CARE and Partners in Reading. There are still public school students that do not have tutors, though.
If more clubs who do not do community service got more involved, like the College Republicans did, then we could have an even greater impact on the community.
But what might motivate clubs that usually don’t do community service, for this reason or that, to start giving back now?
One idea I thought of recently was providing a monetary incentive via the Students’ Association.
During the budgeting process, if clubs can prove how much community service they did the year before, they should receive a stipend from a fund allocated for community service. The amount of hours put in by the club would lead to an adjustment in the amount of the stipend, of course.
The Mid-Year Report pretty much measures a club’s value, which effects how much of a budget increase it receives, so it could also be given extra weight during that process. A policy that provides an incentive should be implemented starting next year.
Even without extra funding, doing community service is still something clubs should consider doing more often.
College Republicans President Leo Fridley and Vice President Eric Auslander said that they had a lot of fun talking about college with the children.
Club members Steven Conrad and Maura Levis came on a trip I organized to tutor children at Public School 19, finding the experience to be quite satisfying.
There are many activities available via the United Way of Greater Rochester that can be turned into great group events.
Serving ice cream to the elderly and their family members at the St. John’s Home is just one example. Everyone loves ice cream, after all.
When thinking of doing community service, it is important to keep in mind that it should be enjoyable; if you do it resentfully and with a bad attitude, it may not have as great of an effect as it would otherwise.
Economist Alan Greenspan once said, “We have a moral obligation to use our prosperity at this moment, especially to uplift communities in poverty.”
I believe that this could be applied to community service, because it is our responsibility, especially when considering our position as privileged college students, to help the people of Rochester.
We may not all consider Rochester our home, but it is our town as long as we are attending this school.