OPINION | Service learning should serve more

Butler University incorporates service learning—volunteer work—into several courses.

Frankly, Bulldogs should be even more involved in the community, and the university should incentivize them.

I’ve heard faculty and students complain about the confines of the Butler Bubble, of being trapped in a world unrelated to Indianapolis.

My advice? Go out and volunteer around the city.

Bulldogs should get active, and the university should encourage this by requiring volunteer work  even more classes.

It seems the university has latched onto this idea, and service learning appears to be a more frequent requirement in many classes.

“In service-learning courses, students are thinking about the work they are performing in the community, why they are doing it and how it connects to issues of diversity and social justice,” Donald Braid, director of the Center for Citizenship and Community, told The Collegian.

Normally, college students live in a very localized community where they live and learn all in a few-block radius.

Students live with strangers, listen to professors give sometimes-crazy, sometimes-crazy-boring lectures and pull all-nighters fueled by stress and energy drinks.

To me, it’s marvelous and unforgettable. At the same time, it’s easy to lose perspective.

After graduation, Bulldogs have to be a part of their community, and that means both applying what they’ve learned in college  and by helping their neighbors.

Volunteering achieves practice in both.

Butler already encourages a community perspective, one not just about making the job but about enacting change.

Bulldogs shouldn’t just hear about that from the administration.

If the university adopts a system where, for example, all students had to volunteer for a total of 80 hours a year, they’d get out into the community.

Undergraduates would help people across Indianapolis and bring to reality the liberal arts philosophy that Butler loves to publicize so much.

And there’s a practical aspect to it as well.

“It’s not just about sending people out to do charity work,” education professor Arthur Hochman told The Collegian. “There’s a reflective nature about it in which you’re learning through the work you’re doing out in the field. Students may like it because it’s a true sense of utilizing knowledge.”

Volunteering gives students ways to practice the skills they’re trained in and applications for the lectures they attend.

On top of that, they can build networks of support and even friendships with potential employers.

Butler would gain tons of positive public relations, too. There aren’t many things better than some 4,000 volunteer workers.

Students are busy. But I’m pretty sure most of us could find a few hours a week to get involved.

The university as a whole should give students a gentle push in the right direction.

Individual involvement is fantastic, but it’s not enough.

Bulldogs stand to gain a lot of real experience and personal development from this service, and the community needs the help and support.

Students sign up and get out of the Bubble.

Administrators, give us a stronger hint of motivation.


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