Post Classifieds

A requirement to serve

By Matt Coniglio
On October 19, 2012

Over fall break, a friend of mine recalled a conversation that took place with Brother Burns over dinner. During the conversation, Brother Burns mentioned that, to his knowledge, every single Jesuit high school in the United States has a community service portion among their graduation requirements.
This is not unique to Jesuit high schools, as many other high schools across the country (including my own) also include a measure
of community
service in their core requirements for graduation.
Despite community
service being a tenant of the Jesuit education model, not a single college or university
in this country has any requirements
for a community service
component to supplement their written and spoken education.
What if Xavier University became
the first? What if Father Graham, our board of directors and anyone else in charge of coming
up with our curriculum decided
to implement a community service requirement to count as a core class?
Everyone, no matter the student's
major, would have to participate
in however many hours (let's say 30 for this article's purpose)
of community
service during the course of one semester.
Before I get any weird looks or reactions, let me first explain that every student who attends Xavier University decided to come to a first class Jesuit institution.
The Jesuits have been known for centuries for their emphasis
on education
of the whole person
(mind, body and soul) and their willingness to shy away from the everyday system of thought.
So the way I see things, it wouldn't be that ridiculous or out-of-the-blue if Xavier announced a new community service program,
supplementing a traditional classroom education and required for all students, effective for the Class of 2017.
Some might ask, "Why would Xavier require
such a thing and call it a 'class' when lots of students participate
in activities such as Community Action Day occasionally?"
Even the educational
purists would be up in arms. How dare we try and move the classroom out of the classroom.
You see, a college education is little more than a delusion.
For traditional college students, you now just eat and sleep on the campus of the school you attend. Sure the classes might be a little bit harder and there's more specialization,
but that's really it.
Your education doesn't come from the classroom. Your education,
while in college, comes from just about everything else.
If the essence of our education
is to make our entire person better (not just to make our brains a little sharper) then are we missing
our potential in this current state?
Would not a guided emphasis on serving the community for a single semester prove beneficial to everything that the Jesuits want us to achieve while we are gracing their campus?
For some, especially those who already serve (and have the time to do so), the idea of forcing community
service upon the students would seem to invalidate the purpose
of the community service itself.
We are, in fact, all adults at this point and can make our own decisions
on how we want to spend our time. That's a fair argument, but it's never stopped the Jesuits from implementing what they thought would be best for the students'
education.
If the community service requirement
is too much of a burden
when a prospective student is examining the university, then they have the free will to choose an alternative form of education. Xavier University isn't for everyone.
For a directive as to how the community
service
"class" would be classified, why not file it under theology?
It would make sense as community service is often more about how the act makes you feel as opposed to what it does for the someone that you serve.
If the university wants to experiment
with this in some trial runs, then why not offer it as a theology elective to see how it works out?
Students, send me (better yet, send the Newswire) some feedback. Let us know what you think. Do you agree with this concept or do you think it's the worst thing ever?
We can't know unless you share your opinions with us; your shyness is useless.


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