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. 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. 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...