by Micah Wilkins, web editor
The proposal from the Service Learning Advisory Committee to change the current model of the student service requirement was approved by Student Caucus March 27.
The proposal entails a shift from the current 100-hour requirement to a more open, inclusive model, entitled the Community Engagement Commitment. According to Dean of Service Cathy Kramer, this new model will promote and encourage more meaningful service experiences for students.
“[Service hours] were becoming kind of like a check-off,” Kramer said. “When you’re talking to students who are finishing the requirements and they say things like ‘I don’t care what I do, I just need four hours,’ it’s clear that measuring hours is not the best way to motivate people.”
With this new model, Kramer hopes that service will become less of an encumbrance, and more of a fulfilling and meaningful experience.
“I think what’s going to happen is people will be more deeply engaged and they’ll spend more hours serving, because they’re into it and they’re excited about it,” Kramer said.
The new service model will entail four “PEGS” (Points of Engagement and Growth): self knowledge, understanding of complex issues, capacity for leadership and commitment to community engagement. These PEGS will mark students’ progress, to “build in some checkpoints” within the new model.
According to Kramer, the change in the service requirement model also reflects how the college should be engaging with the community.
“It used to be a model of the college going out with all of its resources and helping the community,” Kramer said. “But now it’s about both sides giving and gaining. We felt this model reflected that mutual relationship better.”
In order to effectively implement this new model, students may be given triad mentors, in addition to their academic advisors, to follow the student throughout their service experiences. Students may also have the opportunity to turn in a triad portfolio to their mentors, compiling a record of their holistic education and experiences at Wilson. These pieces of implementing the new model are still in the works, however.
The new service model will begin with new students next fall, and with everything in place for all students the following fall. The Service Learning Advisory Committee has been working on developing this new model since last spring, beginning with focus groups and feedback from students. Since then, the Committee has been formulating the proposal, with continuous feedback from students and student caucus. March 21, Staff Forum approved the proposal, and, with Caucus’ support, the proposal will now move to president Sandy Pfeiffer for his approval.
The new model will still include an hours-based component, however every student will not have a 100-hour minimum. Rather, service will be recorded in other, more abstract ways, like with projects, reflection activities and more.
“Under the new model, you could get by with doing a minimum of 80 hours, but our hope is that it will inspire people to do more, and have a richer experience,” Kramer said. “I’d rather have people do 50 hours doing something they’re really engaged in rather than 100 hours of cleaning kudzu from the river without engaging or talking to anyone or thinking about how it got there in the first place.”