College students are seen more like the character Bluto in “Animal House” and less like Jimmy Carter. However, with volunteerism on the rise, it may seem like that reputation is not well-earned.
According to a survey conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the number of students who volunteer has risen 30 percent.
Tutoring and mentoring were among the most popular activities. This trend certainly didn’t bypass this campus. “Temple Volunteers,” Temple’s Office of Community Service, houses three organizations: Temple University Community Service Association, Residential Organization for Community Service, and the Temple Chapter
of Habitat for Humanity. The office runs several community projects and organizes alternate spring and winter breaks.Neal Santos is the student coordinator for Temple Volunteers. Santos, a junior, has been involved with Temple Volunteers since his freshman year.
“Every year it really has increased,” Santos said. He recalled a time when the office for Temple Volunteers was in the Student Center. Today, the offices are located in a much larger location at 1509 Cecil B. Moore Ave.
There is a negative stigma associated with the younger generations. This negativity is unfair. More and more students are opting to spend their spring breaks helping others instead of going to the beach and partying. College students are much less self-involved than older generations believe. Being involved in a club activity on Temple’s campus requires that a student participate in a “service project” with his or her club. This recent spike in volunteerism among students is wonderful, but that spike can never be too dramatic.
We live in a society where the gap between
the rich and poor is only growing wider. Volunteerism is a way to bridge the divide and for people to learn that humanity isn’t dependent on one’s income level.
The spike seems to correlate with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which was when most present college students were in high school. Today, most high school curriculums include a community service requirement, as do many college classes and majors. So perhaps the concept of volunteering is being ingrained into high school students more so than in the past.
Freshman Jackie Hopkins learned the importance of volunteering in high school. She attended Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia, where she was a member of a volunteer group and went on service trips. When she came to Temple, she looked for the Temple Volunteers Web site.
Hopkins said she thinks that volunteering
in high school is more common today. Her older sister who attended the same high school and was not as active in volunteering.
“There seems to be more of an awareness now,” Hopkins said.
Santos said that volunteering in high school was forced for him. However, upon coming to Temple, he saw a definite need to volunteer and help others.
Santos’ experience is proof that Temple’s
campus lends itself to the community’s needs. Students walk to class and see homeless people begging, abandoned homes and streets that need cleaning. The need for student help is obvious.
What may have caused the increase in volunteering matters much less than the fact that the increase is occurring. More students are out there working for less fortunate people. This is a wonderful
thing and hopefully the upward trend will continue.
It’s time for people to stop imagining college students who don’t care about much.
It’s time to start imagining college students who tutor, build houses and help their community.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.