OPINION | Mandatory volunteering doesn’t help

Baby-sitting small children sounds like fun for some people. I am not one of those people.

I am all for helping the world. My version of helping the world though is not making sure that all the students at a community center have their afternoon snacks and play nicely on the playground.

Through the university’s Indianapolis Community Requirement, students are required to complete a course that would “involve active engagement with the Indianapolis community,” according to the Butler University Core Curriculum website.

I’ve taken two service-learning courses during my tenure at Butler.

In one course, I was required to complete 20 hours at the Martin Luther King Community Center.

If service learning is meant to show us life outside of the Butler Bubble, why do I remember nothing even though it’s only been three short semesters since then?

Even after completing my 20 hours and writing my research paper, I felt little connection to the semester of work I had just completed.

I started to think it was solely because I was an awful person—which could be true—but then I started to realize that the point of volunteering is to get you involved in something you care about.

While I think service learning is a fine idea in concept, making students participate in something takes away from the point.

Most students, when told to complete something off campus on their own time, will start to resent the idea of going, and that really ends up taking away from what they get out of it.

By the time midterms rolled around, I was tired of going to the center because I really had other homework to do; I had other things that I could have been doing.

It’s important to give back to your community. But it’s also important to want to give back to your community.

People should do something good because they have an urgency to do—not because the university tells them to.

We’re in a position that some people never even get to see. We’re attending a private university with tuition higher than the average income of Hoosiers. We’re lucky, so it’s only fair to help out.

But that idea of doing something for a noble cause gets lost in the mix of course requirements and volunteer hour logs.


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