By Henri Gendreau
If two seniors get their way, community service may take on a whole new dimension at first-year orientation.
Pete Rodrigue ’14 and Grant Jossi ’14 presented ideas to Student Council on Sunday that would promote and further fund community service opportunities, including a program for first-year students.
“We were interested in seeing ways that would be relatively easy and agreeable to people to expand community service at Kenyon,” Rodrigue said.
Rodrigue said the pair’s initial plan was to have a community service graduation requirement, but they changed their approach after surveying around 178 students last fall.
“As you might imagine, that was not received terribly favorably,” Rodrigue said of a graduation requirement. According to the survey results, 33 percent of respondents disliked or strongly disliked the idea.
“Definitely, people don’t like being told they have to do anything,” Jossi said.
But in coordinating with Assistant Director of New Student Orientation and Community Programs Lacey Filkins, Rodrigue and Jossi said they believe a deal could be struck to increase the annual $1,000 budget for community service efforts and introduce more days of service similar to the Martin Luther King Jr. day of service two weeks ago.
Rodrigue asked Council members for input on holding a required service day for Orientation, an idea he said President Sean Decatur is “pretty excited about.”
Some members pointed out that a lot of community service completed on campus is done through student clubs and organizations.
“There are subsets of students and student organizations that already have philanthropic goals and traditions, so it’s happening in a lot of different ways,” Dean of Students Hank Toutain said. But, he added, “I think you can do both. … The point is to try to establish long-term ongoing relationships with agencies so that it’s easier to plug people in.”
“I think the idea of having something during New Student Orientation, to make sure that people who are just entering the community know that this exists and that there are opportunities, is a terrific one,” Toutain added.
“Here’s the takeaway — there’s a lot of cool stuff happening on campus, but a lot of it is very diffuse,” Rodrigue said. “There’s not a central place that you can go and see a complete list of all the opportunities that are available.”
In an email, Rodrigue added, “That’s our proposal: fund the community service office, so they can introduce a freshman orientation day of service, and expand these opportunities for the rest of us, too. It would cost almost nothing. We think it would do a lot of good.”
Student Council President Kevin Pan ’15 recommended the two contact Campus Senate to further discuss the plan.
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